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Paddle Doll

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
So-called paddle dolls are flat, schematic representations of naked, legless female figures on which jewelry, belts, and other details have been painted or drawn. Made as fertility figures, they were dedicated to goddesses by women or couples hoping to have children. Some are adorned with strings of mud pellets, apparently imitating hair. Many also have painted images— possibly representing tattoos—of deities such as Bes and Taweret or of human couples in sexual embrace.
MEDIUM Wood, mud, pigment
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 2081–1700 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 11 to early Dynasty 13
    PERIOD Middle Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 9 x 2 5/8 x 3/16 in. (22.8 x 6.7 x 0.5 cm)Measurements: Ht. 22.8 cm.; greatest width c. 6.7 cm.; thickness 0.5 cm.  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    PROVENANCE Archaeological provenance not yet documented; by 1852, acquired in Egypt by Henry Abbott; 1859, purchased from Henry Abbott by the New-York Historical Society, New York, NY; September 1948, purchased from the New-York Historical Society by the Brooklyn Museum.
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    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Flat wooden female figurine with details of anatomy and garment painted in red and black on the front. Tied around the neck are five strings of gray mud pellets, probably representing hair, and the knots and ends of the strings are glued to the back of the head with a dark adhesive. The figures of Ta-weret and a crocodile are painted on the front. Condition: The ends of the arms are broken off, and there are two holes through the left center. The right lower edge is broken away and has been gnawed by rodents. The back is covered with grayish dirt, and there are diagonal score lines across the front.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
    CAPTION Paddle Doll, ca. 2081–1700 B.C.E. Wood, mud, pigment, 9 x 2 5/8 x 3/16 in. (22.8 x 6.7 x 0.5 cm)Measurements: Ht. 22.8 cm.; greatest width c. 6.7 cm.; thickness 0.5 cm. Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.102E. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.37.102E_NegA_print_bw.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, CUR.37.102E_NegA_print_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2010
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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