White cross-lined ware bowl illustrating a hippo hunt

Predynastic, late Naqada I–early Naqada II

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 101

A hippo hunt is underway on the exterior of this beautifully preserved bowl. The man wears hunting gear, that is, a penis-sheath and an animal’s tail, and holds two cords attached to harpoons now embedded in the face of the large hippo that faces him. A second smaller hippo, behind the first, shares the same fate. For the rest of Egyptian history, hippo hunts were incorporated into certain rituals and myths, most of which revolved around securing the king’s power.

Hippopotami are dangerous animals, and the Egyptians knew how easily a lightweight boat could be over turned and the occupants left to face a massive, angry animal. By 3700 B.C., the ancient Egyptians represented the hippo in scenes on ceramic vessels that show the animals being controlled by either humans or the environment.

White cross-lined ware bowl illustrating a hippo hunt, Pottery, paint

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.