Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Reconstructed lotiform chalice

Third Intermediate Period or later
Dynasty 21–25
ca. 1070–664 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes
As reconstructed: H. 9.9 cm (3 7/8 in.); Diam. 9.3 cm (3 11/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926 (26.7.979); Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915 (30.8.153); Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1985 (1985.163.5-.7); Purchase, Nathaniel Spear, Jr. Gift, 1986 (1986.18.2-.4)
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 130
Made of faience glazed a rich turquoise, this goblet takes the shape of the fragrant blue lotus. Reconstructed from eight fragments, it would originally have stood on a slender column imitating the flower's stalk. (For a complete example, see 13.182.53.) This type of chalice, which is seen first in the New Kingdom, appears to have been used primarily as a cult vessel.

Both the shape and the imagery of this chalice are closely linked with the themes of creation and rejuvenation. As the lotus blossom closes at night and opens at dawn to greet the rising sun, it became associated with the daily cycle of death and rebirth. The relief decoration is set in the marshes where the lotus bloomed, echoing the watery landscape of creation. The principal scene, repeated three times around the cup's circumference, shows a youthful king in the blue crown and festal collar seated on a throne, evoking myths of the king reborn as a child of the sun god. Below, the Nile god, Hapy, presents the king with palm ribs with "ankh" signs and "was" scepters, symbolizing many years of life and power; to either side are figures of Bes, a household deity, who offers "ankh" signs and "wedjat" eyes (emblems of healing and rejuvenation). A frieze of ducks in a papyrus marsh and a band of rosettes adorn the rim. Below are alternating images of tilapia fish and a cow suckling her calf, both potent icons of rebirth.
Acquired by Lord Carnarvon for his collection before 1923. Carnarvon Collection purchased by the Museum from Lady Carnarvon, 1926 (26.7.979); Theodore M. Davis Collection, bequeathed to the Museum by Theodore Davis in 1915 (30.8.153); Purchased at auction, Sotheby's London, July 1985. Previously possibly Macgregor sale, Sotheby's London, 1922 (1985.163.5-.7); Sold with the Macgregor collection, Sotheby's, London 1922. Acquired at that sale by the dealer Birtles, who sold it with a few others to de Pass, a resident of Cornwall, England. Donated by de Pass to the Cornwall Museum, Truro, England. Sold by the latter to the Museum, 1986 (1986.18.2-.4).

Tait, G. A. D. 1963. "The Egyptian Relief Chalice." In Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 49, pp. 115-117, pl. XVII.3.

Related Objects

Fragment of a lotiform chalice, with the figure of a king

Date: ca. 1070–664 B.C. Medium: Faience Accession: 30.8.153 On view in:Gallery 130

Chalice wall fragment with personification of Lower Egypt - see 26.7.979

Date: ca. 1070–664 B.C. Medium: Faience Accession: 1985.163.7 On view in:Not on view

Chalice wall fragment with rosette band and seated king - see 26.7.979

Date: ca. 1070–664 B.C. Medium: Faience Accession: 1985.163.6 On view in:Not on view

Chalice fragment with "infinity" figure and watery zone - see 26.7.979

Date: ca. 1070–664 B.C. Medium: Faience Accession: 1986.18.4 On view in:Not on view

Rim fragment with frieze of birds and papyri - see 26.7.979

Date: ca. 1070–664 B.C. Medium: Faience Accession: 1985.163.5 On view in:Not on view