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Mirror with Papyrus Handle Featuring Two Ibex Heads

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Special Exhibitions, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
The Egyptians associated mirrors with female sexuality and rebirth. Women needed mirrors to apply cosmetics and style their hair. Mirrors were thereby intimately connected with the eroticism that led to rebirth.

Mirrors were also a symbol of cosmic creation. The disc of the mirror on a papyrus-plant handle symbolized the moment when the creator-god emerged from the primordial swamp in the form of the sun. Creation then subdued the chaos of the deserts, here represented by the two ibex heads. This symbolic depiction of the original creation served as an aid to the self’s re-creation in the tomb.
MEDIUM Bronze
  • Place Made: Africa
  • DATES ca. 1539-1292 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY XVIII Dynasty
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 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)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Special Exhibitions, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
    ACCESSION NUMBER 75.168a-b
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION 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)
    IMAGE front, 75.168a-b_front_PS4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2016
    "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 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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