Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Magic Wand

Middle Kingdom–Early New Kingdom
Dynasty 12, late–13
ca. 1850–1640 B.C.
From Egypt, Egyptian Antiquities Service/Maspero excavations, 1885–86
L. 26.6 × W. 3.6 × H. 9.5 × Th. 1.5 cm (10 1/2 × 1 7/16 × 3 3/4 × 9/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Funds from various donors, 1886
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 109
This curved object made from a hippopotamus tusk is incised with the figures of a frog, the goddess Taweret, a crocodile, a winged feline, the daimon Bes, a jackal head, an upright lion and a baboon. It belongs to a group of such objects, all of late Middle Kingdom date, which have a similar shape: curved with one end slightly rounded, the other flat. Based on the presence of the goddess Taweret, who was in charge of birth, and the daimon Bes, who was a protector of the newly born, as well as inscriptions on some of these objects mentioning children, the group is usually understood as having been associated with magical practices concerning the birth and early life of infants. The deposition of such objects in tombs could be explained by the idea that a deceased Egyptian wished for rebirth in the afterlife.
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