Palette Depicting a Pair of Mud Turtles

Predynastic, early Naqada II

Not on view

The large mud turtle, Trionyx triunguis, which inhabited the Nile River and its canals, is the subject of many palettes and this one is quite unusual in depicting a pair. The duo may represent a mating pair linking the palette’s imagery to the concept of fertility and therefore regeneration. In the Pharaonic Period, the turtle had a dual reputation, on one hand the animal was connected to chaos and disorder, and on the other, it could be a potent amulet when the turtle’s negative character was used as a protective force. Given the turtle is the subject of an implement for manufacturing pigment for eye paint, a protective interpretation seems fitting.

Palette Depicting a Pair of Mud Turtles, Greywacke

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