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Limestone figurine in the form of a woman and her baby lying on a bed

 

Length: 23.500 cm
Width: 9.500 cm
Height: 6.300 cm

Salt collection

EA 2371

Room 62-63: Egyptian mummies

    Limestone figurine in the form of a woman and her baby lying on a bed

    From Thebes
    19th Dynasty, 1300-1200 BC

    Magical or fertility figurine

    One of the most important objectives of marriage in ancient Egypt was to have children, especially a son. This was partly to continue the family line and business, but also ensure proper burial - the 'classic' burial was always carried out by the eldest son. Women who failed to conceive could find a second wife replacing them, or even be divorced.

    Most houses had a shrine at which deities associated with the home, such as Bes and Taweret, were venerated. Figures such as that of the woman and child lying on a bed were placed around the shrine as amulets to promote fertility and ensure a safe birth. Similar offerings were also left at the shrines of Hathor, for example at Deir el-Bahari where she is prominently associated with the birth of Hatshepsut.

    The woman on the bed is usually represented in a large wig, sometimes with a perfume cone on the top. She wears jewellery such as a collar and necklace, but no clothes. The hips, pubic area and breasts are often emphasized. This combines the aspects of the woman as the 'lady of the house', and as a sexual individual. The child is usually shown as a baby, but sometimes as an older child, perhaps to ensure its continued health through infancy.

    M. Stead, Egyptian life (London, The British Museum Press, 1986)

    E. Strouhal, Life in Ancient Egypt (Cambridge University Press, 1992)

    G. Pinch, Votive Offerings to Hathor (Oxford, Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum, 1993)

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    On display: Room 62-63: Egyptian mummies

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