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Cosmetic Container in Form of Trussed Duck

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
Cosmetic Containers

Like us, the ancient Egyptians used cosmetics, and often for the same purposes.

Archaeologists use the term “cosmetic container” to describe a variety of Egyptian boxes that once held scented, oil-based ointments. The salves in these boxes were used by women and men to heighten sexual allure and to camouflage body odor. Orange or yellow stains seen on ancient representations of clothing and on actual surviving linen garments show how liberally such ointments were applied.
MEDIUM Wood, paste, pigment
  • Reportedly From: Saqqara, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1539–1292 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 18
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 1 3/4 × 2 1/4 × 6 3/4 in. (4.4 × 5.7 × 17.1 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Wooden toilet box in the shape of a trussed duck. The body of the duck is hollowed-out and topped with a cover which pivots at the head end. The outer edges of the cover are decorated with incised triangles inlaid with a blue paste. The whole is outlined with two finely incised lines also inlaid with blue paste. The same motif surrounds the opening of the body. The head and neck are carved in the round, the head curved back so that the beak lies flat, joined to the side of the body. The eyes, the line where beak and head join, and three narrow triangular bands on top of the head were once inlaid with blue paste, traces of which still remain. On the underside of the body, the legs, webbed feet and wings are indicated in raised relief. Condition: Excellent workmanship. The paste inlay is intact for the most part. The knobs which fasten the cover to the body at the tail ends are now missing. The tail end of the body has a crack as does the cover at the same end. There are traces of white pigmentation on the underside of the body.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
    CAPTION Cosmetic Container in Form of Trussed Duck, ca. 1539–1292 B.C.E. Wood, paste, pigment, 1 3/4 × 2 1/4 × 6 3/4 in. (4.4 × 5.7 × 17.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.613E. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.37.613E_erg456.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, CUR.37.613E_erg456.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 9/6/2007
    "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.
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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