The horse was a relative latecomer to Egypt. It was introduced in the Second Intermediate period during the Hyksos domination of northern Egypt (ca. 1667–1570 B.C.E.), when new elements of warfare, notably the horse and chariot, were brought from the Near East. During the New Kingdom, this animal became a familiar sight, and there were many depictions of horses in art, particularly during the Amarna period.
This small ivory handle of a light whip or fly whisk is carved in the form of a prancing or running horse stained reddish brown with a black mane. The eyes, one of which has fallen out, were inlaid with garnet. The lively carving of this piece, especially the gracefully arched back, typifies the ability of Egyptian artists to evoke the essential qualities of animals. It also exemplifies the fine quality attained in the decorative arts during the reign of Amenhotep III.
Acquired by Lord Carnarvon (d. 1923). Carnarvon Collection. Collection acquired by the Museum from Lady Carnarvon 1926.
Lythgoe, Albert M. 1927. "The Carnarvon Egyptian Collection." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 22, no. 2 (February), p. 36 (photo).
Breasted, James H. Jr. 1936. Geschichte Ägyptens. Zürich, 294.
Phillips, Dorothy W. 1942. Ancient Egyptian Animals, Picture Books (Metropolitan Museum of Art), New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, fig. 39.
Winlock, Herbert E. 1947. Rise and Fall of the Middle Kingdom in Thebes. New York: Macmillan Co., pl. 23.
Capart, Jean 1949. Pour faire aimer l'art égyptien. Brussels, 67.
Pijoán, José 1950. Summa Artis: Historia general del arte, Vol. III. 1950. Madrid, 360, fig. 491.
White, J. E. Manchip 1952. Ancient Egypt. London: A. Wingate, pl. 7.
Hayes, William C. 1959. Scepter of Egypt II: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Part II: The Hyksos Period and the New Kingdom (1675-1080 B.C.). Cambridge, Mass.: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 315, fig. 197.
Arnold, Dieter, Emma Brunner Traut, Henry G. Fischer, Matthias Seidel, Wilfried Seipel, C. Vandersleyen, and Erika Feucht 1975. Das alte Ägypten, Propyläen Kunstgeschichte, 15. Berlin, p. 376, fig. 373a.
Arnold, Dorothea 1995. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, new ser., vol. 52, no. 4 (Spring), New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 55, no. 71.
Roehrig, Catharine H. 2008. "Handle in the Shape of a Horse." In Beyond Babylon: art, trade, and diplomacy in the second millennium B.C., edited by Joan Aruz, Kim Benzel, and Jean M. Evans. New York; New Haven and London: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 156, no. 94.