Lotiform Chalice

Period: Third Intermediate period

Dynasty: Dynasty 22-25

Date: ca. 945–664 B.C.

Geography: Said to be from Middle Egypt, Tuna el-Gebel region; From Egypt

Medium: Faience

Dimensions: h. 14.5 cm (5 11/16 in)

Credit Line: Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926

Accession Number: 26.7.971


This cup, made of brilliantly glazed Egyptian faience, imitates the slender form of the blue lotus flower and is decorated in relief with scenes depicting the marshy habitat.

The fragrant blossom of the blue lotus is a common motif in all forms of Egyptian art. The water lily was valued for more than its beauty and scent: because it opened its petals to the sun each morning, it became a symbol of creation and rebirth. During the Third Intermediate Period, chalices of this shape and other faience delicacies were decorated with relief scenes evoking a constellation of myths having to do with the birth of the king as child of the sun god out of the watery marsh environment, and thus the renewal of the world out of the flooded land of each midsummer New Year.