Cosmetic Dish in the Shape of a Bolti Fish

New Kingdom

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 118

The bolti fish, or tilapia, common in the Nile valley since ancient times, is easily recognized by its long dorsal fin. The fish, which hatches its eggs in its mouth, was a symbol of regeneration and was also associated with the goddess Hathor and the sun god, Re. While carved in the round, this object is actually a fish-shaped dish, with a depression in one side that would have been used for the preparation of cosmetics. The cartouche just behind the gill contains the throne name of Thutmose III, Menkheperre. The dish may have been given by the king to a temple.

Cosmetic Dish in the Shape of a Bolti Fish, Glazed steatite

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left side (back)