Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Design Amulet, Back in the Form of a Woman Suckling a Child, Device showing Two Lizards Head-to-tail

Period:
First Intermediate Period
Dynasty:
Dynasty 9
Date:
ca. 2100–2080 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt
Medium:
Steatite, glazed
Dimensions:
H. 1.9 cm (3/4 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of Helen Miller Gould, 1910
Accession Number:
10.130.751
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 103
Design amulets from the late Old Kingdom and First Intermediate Period, also called button seals or figure seals according to their form, were at least in some instances used as seals. They seem overwhelmingly, however, to show devices (base decoration) and combinations of figural backs and base decoration that are clearly amuletic in nature; moreover, at least at Qau, they came mainly from the burials of women and children. Examples are preserved from tombs where they were buried with the dead, sometimes incorporated in strings of beads and amulets.

A recent study has cast considerable light on the motifs and their amuletic significance. A nursing mother (with perhaps allusions to Isis who nursed and protected Horus) is here associated with two lizards on the underside, which are emblems of a wish for progeny.
Formerly in the collection of the Reverend Chauncey Murch (died 1907). Collected between 1883 and 1906 while Murch was a missionary in Egypt. Collection purchased by the Museum from the Murch family with funds provided by Helen Miller Gould, 1910.

Mace, Arthur C. 1911. "The Murch Collection of Egyptian Antiquities." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 6, no. 1 (January, Supplement), p. 13, fig. 7.

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