Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Figurine of a Pygmy Dance Leader

Period:
Middle Kingdom
Dynasty:
Dynasty 12, early-mid
Date:
ca. 1950–1885 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht South, mastaba west of Senwosretankh, Pit 3, Burial of Hepy, in front of blocking wall, MMA excavations, 1933–34
Medium:
Ivory
Dimensions:
H. 6.5 cm (2 9/16 in.); W. 2.9 cm (1 1/8 in.); D. 2.4 cm (15/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1934
Accession Number:
34.1.130
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 111
Pygmies, small in stature but naturally proportioned, lived in Central Africa, and ancient Egyptians contacted them through intermediaries on the Upper Nile. Egyptians believed the pygmies possessed divine qualities and called their performances "dances of the gods." A young Egyptian woman named Hepy was given an automaton consisting of a board with pygmy figures that could be turned by pulling strings fastened around their bases. This piece may represent their leader.
Excavated by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds.

Arnold, Dorothea 2015. "Figurine of a Pygmy Dance Leader." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 174–75, no. 110.

Oppenheim, Adela 2015. "Introduction: What Was the Middle Kingdom?." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 7.

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