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Figure of a Lion

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Pre-Dynastic, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
Early Sculpture

Almost all of the small figures in this case originally were placed in temples.

We do not know the significance of many of these early objects. The lion probably embodied divine or royal power, and frogs may have provided protection during childbirth, as in later times.

The figure of a squatting little boy in this case may have been offered to a god as the expression of a wish to bear children. The destructive powers of animals such as pigs, hippos, and scorpions could apparently be neutralized and even made useful through their images, as in the hippo-headed top of a mace (war club).

The ivory lioness was part of a common board game, of which partial sets have survived. The opposing side’s pieces were carved ivory figures of crouching lions or dogs.
MEDIUM Terracotta
  • Possible Place Collected: el-Mahasna, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 3100-2800 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 1 (probably)
    PERIOD Late Naqada III Period to early Dynastic Period
    DIMENSIONS 2 9/16 x 2 1/4 x 5 1/8 in. (6.5 x 5.7 x 13 cm)  (show scale)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Pre-Dynastic, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Figure of a Lion, ca. 3100-2800 B.C.E. Terracotta, 2 9/16 x 2 1/4 x 5 1/8 in. (6.5 x 5.7 x 13 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 58.128.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: , CUR.35.1273_58.128.1_erg3.jpg)
    IMAGE group, CUR.35.1273_58.128.1_erg3.jpg.
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Light brown terracotta statuette of a lion with a minimum of detail in modeling; couchant position with four legs pointing forward. Eyes barely indicated; thick mane cross-hatched with incised lines. Tail curved over right haunch. Testicles indicated. Condition: Perfect, except for small scratches on body.
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