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Circular Cosmetic Container with Lid

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egypt Reborn: Art for Eternity, Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
Cosmetic Dishes

Like spoons, cosmetic dishes may have been used for mixing ointments in the home, or for ritual purposes in a temple, or both.


Many of the dishes have images that seem to refer to beliefs about life after death. Both the lotus and the fish, for example, were associated with rebirth. Other subjects, such as the oryx (a type of antelope), may allude to the desire to maintain universal order. Because the oryx lived in the mysterious desert—beyond the ordered realm of Egyptian civilization—a bound oryx represented victory over chaos.
MEDIUM Ivory, wood, frit
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1539-1292 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY XVIII Dynasty
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 3 3/16 x 1 5/16 in. (8.1 x 3.3 cm)  (show scale)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 37.597Ea-b
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Circular Cosmetic Container with Lid, ca. 1539-1292 B.C.E. Ivory, wood, frit, 3 3/16 x 1 5/16 in. (8.1 x 3.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.597Ea-b. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE overall, 37.597Ea-b_view1_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 A circular, convex shaped toilet dish with lid. The dish is probably hippopotamus ivory and has square projections to receive the lid pegs. The upper edge of the bowl curves inward and then flattens at the upper edge. The wooden lid opens on a swivel. The top surface of the lid is decorated with an incised rosette representing a lotus. Two incised lines circle the rosette. A hole in the side of one projection seems to have the purpose of keeping one of the lid pegs in. This would be accomplished by inserting a peg in the hole, it would then press against the lid peg. There is slight evidence of blue frit in the incised area. The lid does not fit the bowl since the holes for the pegs do not correspond between the two parts of the dish. Condition: Complete except for an area gouged on the underside of bowl.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (84%)
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