Pregnant Hippopotamus with Crocodiles
Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View: Egypt Reborn: Art for Eternity, Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
The subject of this relief is uncertain. The image of a pregnant hippopotamus with a lion’s mane is similar to the goddess Taweret. This goddess, with the addition of a crocodile on her back and another nipping her paw, is often found in Egyptian astronomical texts in connection with the northern constellations.
However, the inscription at the left names Hapi, the god of the Nile’s inundation, who has nothing to do with the stars. Perhaps the strong denotations of fertility of both Taweret and Hapi hold a clue to the meaning of the scene.
ca. 664-30 B.C.E.
Late Period to Ptolemaic Period (possibly)
14 5/16 x 13 1/2 x 2 3/4 in., 23 lb. (36.4 x 34.3 x 7 cm, 23 lb.) (show scale)
Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
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Pregnant Hippopotamus with Crocodiles, ca. 664-30 B.C.E. Limestone, 14 5/16 x 13 1/2 x 2 3/4 in., 23 lb. (36.4 x 34.3 x 7 cm, 23 lb.). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 70.2. Creative Commons-BY
overall, 70.2_version1_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2013
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Portion of a limestone relief. Represented is the goddess Taweret shown in her normal guise of a pregnant hippopotamus with lion's feet and a crocodile upon her back. The goddess is shown striding left with outstretched arms. Before the goddess, and touching one of her hands, is a small crocodile. Behind Taweret is a partially preserved column of text. In front of her-above and below her arms- are preserved portions of smaller inscriptions. Traces of original red pigment appear to be preserved upon her tongue.
Condition: Back and sides rough; numerous chips, scratches and encrusted dirt; long surface cracks running from top to bottom through the crocodile upon the back of the goddess.
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