Two Vases in the Shape of a Mother Monkey with her Young

Period: Old Kingdom

Dynasty: Dynasty 6

Reign: reigns of Pepi I and Merenre

Date: ca. 2289–2246 BC

Geography: From Egypt

Medium: Travertine (Egyptian alabaster), paint, resin and pigment

Dimensions: 30.8.134: h. 18.6 cm (7 5/16 in.)
1992.338: h. 13.7 cm (5 3/8 in.)

Credit Line: Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915 (30.8.134); Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, Fletcher Fund, and Lila Acheson Wallace, Russell and Judy Carson, William Kelly Simpson, and Vaughn Foundation Gifts, in honor of Henry George Fischer, 1992 (1992.338)

Accession Number: 30.8.134, 1992.338-related


These charming vases are carved in the shape of mother monkeys each holding a baby clinging tightly to her chest. Alluding to motherhood and fertility, and also to the exotic lands that provided rare ingredients for the rejuvenating oils and unguents stored inside, they are inscribed wtih references to the kings' jubilee. It is likely that the vessels were given by Sixth Dynasty kings to favored courtiers, particularly women.

See also 30.8.134 and 1992.338