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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 1/8 x 2 5/16 x 1/4 in. (20.6 x 5.8 x 0.6 cm)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 37.105E
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Flat wooden female figurine, without legs, with details of anatomy, garment and jewelry painted on both sides in red, black, and white. On the reverse side is a painted figure of Ta-Weret. Condition: The left arm is missing. There is a large jagged crack in the wood in the middle of the figure. An ancient repair with plaster was made of a large hole in the bottom half of the figure and then painted over. There are two smaller holes, unrepaired, in the center front and back.
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