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Paddle Doll

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

Paddle dolls were once thought to be children’s playthings: their abstract shape simplifies a woman’s body like a toy doll, and often the front is painted to represent a herringbone-patterned dress. On the back, however, the goddess Taweret, who protected pregnant women, is drawn. The image of the goddess, together with the explicit marking of the pubic triangle on the front, now leads scholars to think that these paddle figures magically encouraged fertility in the tomb, thus allowing rebirth into the afterlife.
MEDIUM Wood, pigment
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 2008–1630 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 11 to Dynasty 13
    PERIOD Middle Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 8 5/16 x 2 7/16 x 3/16 in. (21.1 x 6.2 x 0.5 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Flat wooden female figurine with details of anatomy, garment and jewelry painted on the front in red and black. A patch of dark adhesive on the back of the head was probably for the attachment of strings of mud beads representing hair. This type of figure, often referred to as a paddle doll, is always represented without legs and an emphasized pubic area. Condition: There is a long crack in the wood starting at the right shoulder. A piece was broken off at the right near the bottom. There is a hole through the right side near the bottom, and chipping along the right arm and both shoulders. The bottom front and the back of the figure are covered with diagonal score lines.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Paddle Doll, ca. 2008–1630 B.C.E. Wood, pigment, 8 5/16 x 2 7/16 x 3/16 in. (21.1 x 6.2 x 0.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.104E. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 37.104E_front_PS2.jpg)
    IMAGE front, 37.104E_front_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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