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Cosmetic Dish in the Form of a Fish

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Pre-Dynastic, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
A container for cosmetics or possibly medical ointment, this covered dish represents a tilapia fish. The tilapia symbolized fertility and was believed to promote abundance on earth and a renewed life after death. This container’s lid swivels open at the tail.
MEDIUM Graywacke, inlay of shell and black paste
  • Reportedly From: Saqqara, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 3000–2800 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 1
    PERIOD early Dynastic Period
    DIMENSIONS 3 1/4 x 1 3/4 in. (8.3 x 4.4 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Slate toilet dish in the form of a fish; eyes inlaid with shell and dark paste. Separate lid attached by pivot at tail. Detail of fins and gills incised. Condition: Inlay missing from one eye.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Pre-Dynastic, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
    CAPTION Cosmetic Dish in the Form of a Fish, ca. 3000–2800 B.C.E. Graywacke, inlay of shell and black paste, 3 1/4 x 1 3/4 in. (8.3 x 4.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.629Ea-b. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.37.629Ea-b_erg3.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, CUR.37.629Ea-b_erg3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 9/21/2007
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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