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Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

Although this snake goddess is not named in an inscription, her human face and the two finger-shaped feathers on her crown identify her as Meretseger (She Who Loves Silence), a patroness of fertility and the harvest. Like this statue, most images of Meretseger are modest in quality and were placed in small chapels or shrines to be visited by local farmers.

MEDIUM Sandstone, pigment
  • Reportedly From: Saqqara, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1479–1400 B.C.E., or later
    DYNASTY XVIII Dynasty, or later
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 14 x 4 5/8 x 8 7/8 in. (35.6 x 11.7 x 22.5 cm)  (show scale)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Meretseger, ca. 1479–1400 B.C.E., or later. Sandstone, pigment, 14 x 4 5/8 x 8 7/8 in. (35.6 x 11.7 x 22.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1749E. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum (Gavin Ashworth,er), 37.1749E_Gavin_Ashworth_photograph.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 37.1749E_Gavin_Ashworth_photograph.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012
    "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 One sandstone votive figure of the goddess Meretseger. Meretseger is here represented as a human headed cobra. Sculpted in the round, the figure is fairly rectangular-- there being no smooth transitions from side to front view, or at least totally so. From the side we see the coiled body on the snake; two coils being indicated on each side, forced up into loops. From the front the human face (much rubbed down) is shown wearing a tripartite wig capped by a crown composed of a ka sign embracing a solar disc, a vertical line above the disc divides the apex of the roughly triangular crown. The area behind the crown and when viewed from the side, above the coils is left uncarved, save for a smoothing down which has left the piece of untouched stone. The figure sits on a rectangular plinth. Condition: The whole of the body is superficially pitted--a small chip is noted above the sun disc on the crown. Traces of red paint exist on the front of the cobra body and on the rim of the crown as well as the solar discs. CRW mentions traces of paint on the flanks. These are not evident today.
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