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  • Description

    A hollow terracotta standing figure of a female saint or beneficent demon, with her hands raised in blessing and protection. She has a triangular hairstyle, the hair indicated by raised pellets, round and oval, and by paint. Holes are pierced through the hair at ear level and near the top. She may wear a long sleeved tunic with clavi indicated by painted verticals. The breasts are widely spaced and she wears a garland or necklace. Her toes are indicated above a flaring plinth, hollow underneath. The back is rough and spalled: it may have had decoration in relief but this is uncertain. Two-piece mould. Pink Aswan kaolinite clay, with mica; overall worn buff slip. There are traces of yellow colour on hair, back and front, probably fired on. There are also details in black fired-on ceramic colour: the edges of the hair, with radiating lines on the front; the eyes and nose; patches on each side of the neck; cross-hatching on the throat; lines along the forearms, a double cross-band below the breasts and extending onto the upper arms; vertical lines on the garment below the breasts, reaching to the base.


  • Culture/period

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 15.2 centimetres
    • Width: 6.5 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Terracotta IV
    Donated: British School of Archaeology in Egypt. Excavation No. 23/621. From the western part of the South Cemetery at Qau/ Antaiopolis (Cemetery 600, Grave 621); the position of this grave is shown on Brunton 1927 et al.: pl. iii; see also bibliog. below.

    Late Roman, sixth to seventh century AD.

    Close: Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, E.P.444 (head only).
    Near: Adams 2000: 92: fig. 30f, pl. 20c:5 and 7 (both Nile silt), from Meinarti in Nubia, from a context between about the late fifth and the mid-seventh century AD; Alliot 1933: pl. xv:6, from Edfu; Ballet and Mahmoud 1987: pl. xiv:13, a mould from Elephantine, dated first third of seventh century AD = Ballet 1991: 501 and Ballet 1996: pl. iv, fig. 13; Bisson de la Roque 1930: 55, fig. 50:2, from Medamud; Doetsch-Amberger 1987: 123, no. 251; Duncan 1906: pl. xlii:19, from a late Roman grave at Gheyta, north-east of Tell el-Yahudiya in the eastern Delta (head only); Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, e.7.1924 (head only); Friedman 1989: 225, no. 138, dated possibly sixth to seventh century AD; Mond and Myers 1940: pl. lxix:10, from Armant; Polaczek-Zdanowicz 1974: 196, no. 1, from Edfu, context of sixth to seventh century AD; Polaczek-Zdanowicz 1975: 146, fig. 7, from Edfu, dated seventh century AD; Strzygowski 1904: 245, no. 7131, from Kom Ishgau (Aphrodito, south of Asyut = Quibell 1902: 85-8, pl. ii, with suggested date of c. ad 600); Wendrich 1995: 31, fig. 12, from Berenike, dated fifth to sixth century AD.
    Not unlike: Loat 1905: pl. xviii:5, from a tomb at Gurob, probably sixth or seventh century AD = Petrie 1927: pl. lv :603.

    Bibliog: Brunton 1930: 25, 621: 'Child of about 12 years: two rough dolls of pottery and wood were at the head, and a third, of wood, at the feet'; see also ibid.: 29 and pl. xxxix:621. The distribution list on p. 36 states that the grave-group 621 was sent to the V&A Museum: two carved wooden figures, A.87 and A.88-1923 in the Department of Sculpture, seem likely to be the 'dolls' concerned: these were transferred to the British Museum in 1977.


  • Bibliography

    • Terracotta 3391 bibliographic details
  • Location


  • Condition


  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    2 March 1992

    Treatment proposal



    The object has been previously conserved. The pigmented surface is stable but slightly dirty.

    Treatment details

    Surface cleaned gently using Rowney kneadable putty rubber applied on a cocktail stick.

    About these records 

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Ancient Egypt & Sudan

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • V&A.C673-1923
Terracotta female figure; arms raised; purple painted decoration.

Terracotta female figure; arms raised; purple painted decoration.

Image description



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Object reference number: YCA64681

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