Statuette of a Hippopotamus

Statuette of a Hippopotamus, ca. 19911783 B.C.E.; Dynasty 12; Middle Kingdom
Egyptian; Middle Egypt, Meir
Faience; H. 4 3/8 in. (11.2 cm), L. 7 7/8 in. (20 cm)
Gift of Edward S. Harkness, 1917 (17.9.1)


Description

"This well-formed statuette of a hippopotamus demonstrates the Egyptian artist's appreciation for the natural world. It was molded in faience, a ceramic material made of ground quartz. Beneath the blue-green glaze, the body was painted with the outlines of river plants, symbolizing the marshes in which the animal lived.

The seemingly benign appearance that this figurine presents is deceptive. To the ancient Egyptians, the hippopotamus was one of the most dangerous animals in their world. The huge creatures were a hazard for small fishing boats and other rivercraft. The beast might also be encountered on the waterways in the journey to the afterlife. As such, the hippopotamus was a force of nature that needed to be propitiated and controlled, both in this life and the next. This example was one of a pair found in a shaft associated with the tomb chapel of the steward Senbi II at Meir, an Upper Egyptian site about thirty miles south of modern Asyut. Three of its legs have been restored because they were purposely broken to prevent the creature from harming the deceased. The hippo was part of Senbi's burial equipment, which included a canopic box (also in the Metropolitan Museum), a coffin, and numerous models of boats and food production."  - MET 

Copyright 2001 The Metropolitan Museum of Art - MET

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The Art of Ancient Egypt, Revised by Robins, 272 Pages, Pub. 2008
 

 

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Table of Contents

Ancient Near East Art

Female Worshipper- Uruk
Funerary Head of an Elamite
Stele of Mesha, King of Moab
Sarcophagus of Eshmunazor II, king of Sidon
Stele Showing the Storm-God Baal
Fertility Goddess - Ugarit
Oskoron I - Byblos
The Spinner Relief
The Archers of Darius
Bull Capital From Darius I Palace
Sargon II and a High Official
Tablet of Sargon's 8th Campaign
Winged Assyrian Bulls
Law-Codex of Hammurabi
Hero Choking a Small Lion
Kudurru of Melishihu
Hittite God - Gold Figurine
Seated Statue of Gudea, prince of Lagash
Foundation Nail of Ur Ba'u
Cylinder-Seal Of Sharkalisharri
Victory Stele of Naram-Sin
Urnanshe (King of Lagash) Relief
Ebih-II, the Superintendent of Mari
Tablet Of Pre-Cuneiform Script
King and Eunuch Attendant Relief
Human-Headed Winged Bull
Bearded Man Holding Tendrils
Nubian With Animals and Skins
Head of a Roaring Lion
Cylinder Seal With Impression
Orthostat Relief - Hunting Scene
Sphinx Plaques
Throne With Bull Deity

Ancient Egypt

Model of a Riverboat
Ritual Figure of the 12th Dynasty
Stela of Mentuwoser
Coffin of Khnum-nakht
Sphinx of Senwosret III
Face of Senwosret III
Pectoral with the Name of Senwosret II
Cat
Statuette of a Hippopotamus
Seated Statue of Hatshepsut
Ostracon of Senenmut
Chair of Renyseneb
Heart Scarab of Hatnofer
Kneeling Statue of Tuthmosis III
Arm Panel from a Ceremonial Chair
Sphinx of Amenhotep III

Mediterranean

Pendant in the form of a man's head - Carthage