Third Intermediate Period

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 125

Chalices in the form of the blue lily were familiar items among burial equipment beginning in early Dynasty 18 (ca. 1500 B.C.). The flower's association with life and rebirth made it a potent symbol in ritual contexts of all kinds. In Dynasty 21, such chalices were adorned with elaborately detailed relief decoration that amplifies this theme.

The principal scene on this example, in a band around the body of the cup, depicts three boats moving to viewer right on a narrow strip of water, all against a marshy background dominated by tall papyrus plants. In the stern of each boat is a female figure, who propels the craft by either pulling on a papyrus stem or using a pole. In the bow of the central boat is a calf; to the right of this, a man walks forward, holding a nest containing a chick. In front of him is a second boat, in this case with two plumed serpent deities in the bow. Behind the central boat is another man, this time carrying a large calf. Fluttering above the bow of the third boat, to the left of this man, is a bird. Above the main register is a narrow band filled with waterfowl and their nests, one of which shows an egg in the process of hatching. The base of the cup is decorated with four sepals and seven petals, enhancing the identification of the chalice with the lily. The stem and foot of the vessel are also adorned with additional plants.

Chalice, Faience

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view 1 - boat with calf