Mirror with Papyrus Handle Featuring Two Ibex Heads
Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View: Special Exhibitions, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
Although commonplace objects to us, mirrors held great meaning to the ancient Egyptians.
The Egyptians first used mirrors in the Old Kingdom (Third through Sixth Dynasties; circa 2675–2170 B.C.E.) if not earlier. The design—elliptical disks supported by handles shaped like papyrus plants—symbolized the moment when the creator-god emerged from the primordial swamp in the form of the sun. The Egyptians believed that all life began in this so-called First Moment. When they picked up their mirrors each morning they were thus reminded of creation.
The shape of mirrors changed over time. In the Eighteenth Dynasty, the traditional oval disk was replaced by a circular form. Handles appeared in a wide variety of shapes, including images of animals, adolescent girls, and papyrus flowers.
ca. 1539-1292 B.C.E.
Other (handle): 4 3/16 x 3 9/16 x 13/16 in. (10.7 x 9 x 2 cm)
Other (disk): 4 1/8 x 3 3/4 x 5/16 in. (10.5 x 9.5 x 0.8 cm) (show scale)
Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
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Mirror with Papyrus Handle Featuring Two Ibex Heads, ca. 1539-1292 B.C.E. Bronze, Other (handle): 4 3/16 x 3 9/16 x 13/16 in. (10.7 x 9 x 2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 75.168a-b. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 75.168a-b_front_PS4.jpg)
front, 75.168a-b_front_PS4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2016
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Bronze mirror in two parts; papyriform handle ends in an umbel topped with two ibex heads, facing out; their horns meet in the center. A rectangular socket in the handle received the trapezoidal tenon from the disk itself which is ellipsoid in shape.
Condition: Scratched and in several areas on both handle and disk with bronze disease.
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