Female Monkey Holding Its Baby

Middle Kingdom

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 111

The monkey sits holding her baby (head missing) close to her chest. The piece is exquisitely carved and a hole has been drilled just below the shoulders for suspension.

Monkeys, not native to Egypt, were imported as exotic pets and frequently appeared as decoration on cosmetic equipment. The pose of this pair is first seen in Old Kingdom cosmetic jars (see 30.8.134, 1992.338) that also depict mother monkeys with their young. This example probably dates to Dynasty 12 of the Middle Kingdom when amethyst was frequently used as a material for miniature representations of animals. The image of a mother and infant of any species is often interpreted as symbolizing rebirth. However, small chips and signs of wear around the edges of the suspension hole and the base suggests that the piece was used by a living owner and not designed specifically as an amulet for the dead.

Female Monkey Holding Its Baby, Amethyst

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.