Paddle Doll, Wood, mud, linen string, paint

Paddle Doll

Middle Kingdom
Dynasty 11, late-12
ca. 2030–1802 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Asasif, Tomb MMA 816, pit, MMA excavations, 1929–30
Wood, mud, linen string, paint
Body: H. 22.8 cm (9 in.); W. 7 cm (2 3/4 in.); Th. 0.9 cm (3/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1931
Accession Number:
31.3.35a, b
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 106
The so-called paddle doll consists of a flat piece of wood depicting the torso, rudimentary arms and neck of a woman, with a thick shock of "hair" made of beads strung on linen thread. The body is often painted with jewelry, textile patterns and/or tattoos. Contrary to their modern name, these "dolls" were not toys. The key-hole shape of the body is similar to the counterpoise of the menat necklaces that were used as percussion instruments during religious ceremonies (see 11.215.450) . When shaken, the beads of the menat necklace would have made a sound intended to appease a god or goddess. The paddle dolls, with their beaded hair, may have served the same purpose. It has been suggested that paddle dolls were an accoutrement of troops of singers and dancers who performed at religious ceremonies associated with the goddess Hathor.
Museum excavations, 1929-1930. Acquired by the Museum in the division of fiinds, 1931.

Hayes, William C. 1953. Scepter of Egypt I: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: From the Earliest Times to the End of the Middle Kingdom. Cambridge, Mass.: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 219, fig. 135.

Posener, Georges 1959. Dictionnaire de la civilisation égyptienne. Paris: F. Hazan, p. 106.

Patch, Diana Craig 2015. "Paddle Doll." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 106–7, no. 47.