Kohl container in the form of a hippopotamus

Historical period(s)
New Kingdom or later, ca. 1539-1075 BCE or later
Faience (glazed composition)
H x W x D: 3 x 5.8 x 4 cm (1 3/16 x 2 5/16 x 1 9/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Faience, Vessel


Egypt, fish, hippopotamus, New Kingdom (ca. 1539 - 1075 BCE), Taweret, water

To 1907
Unidentified owner, Egypt, to 1907 [1]

From 1907 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased in Egypt from an unidentified owner in 1907 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Pottery List, L. 1849, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


The anthropomorphic female hippopotamus goddess Taweret was a particularly important deity for women, especially pregnant women, and children. This image therefore suits a cosmetic vessel.

The little hippopotamus pot combines elements of both the statuettes and votive bowls. Although it is a vessel and not a true statuette, the pot has the form of the hippopotamus carved in relief in such a way that the image stretches over the surface image of a tilapia fish, an image commonly found on both statuettes and bowls.

Published References
  • Patrick F. Houlihan. The Animal World of the Pharaohs. London and New York. .
  • Sue D'Auria, Peter Lacovara, Catharine H. Roehrig. Mummies and Magic: The Funerary Arts of Ancient Egypt. Exh. cat. Boston, September 14 - December 11, 1988. cat. 58, p. 127.
  • Ann C. Gunter. A Collector's Journey: Charles Lang Freer and Egypt. Washington and London, 2002. p. 130, fig. 5.6.
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Dr. Pamela Vandiver, Angela J. Milward. Egypt's Golden Age: The Art of Living in the New Kingdom, 1558-1085 B.C. Exh. cat. Boston, February 3, 1982 - January 2, 1983. pp. 140-141.
Collection Area(s)
Ancient Egyptian Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum