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Headrest of Shemai

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egypt Reborn: Art for Eternity, Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor

This headrest—the Egyptian version of a pillow—was found in the tomb of a man named Shemai. Headrests were believed to have magical powers that protected the head from evil spirits. The inscription on this example invokes Osiris, god of the afterworld, suggesting that Shemai had it made specifically for his tomb.

MEDIUM Egyptian alabaster
DATES ca. 2288-2170 B.C.E.
PERIOD Old Kingdom
DIMENSIONS 7 5/8 in. (19.4 cm) Base: 6 3/16 x 2 3/4 in. (15.7 x 7 cm)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
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CAPTION Headrest of Shemai, ca. 2288-2170 B.C.E. Egyptian alabaster, 7 5/8 in. (19.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 59.3. Creative Commons-BY
IMAGE front, 59.3_front_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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