Bowl with design of fish and lotus

Dish: deep, round; small concave base. Broken and repaired. Clay: soft, gray. Glaze: deep green-blue with areas of discoloration and partial disintegration. Decoration: drawn in manganese, over glaze.

Historical period(s)
New Kingdom, ca. 1539-1075 BCE
Medium
Faience (glazed composition) with paint
Dimensions
H x W x D: 7.7 x 20.9 x 20.9 cm (3 1/16 x 8 1/4 x 8 1/4 in)
Geography
Egypt
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1909.71
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Faience, Vessel
Type

Bowl

Keywords
Egypt, fish, Hathor, lotus, New Kingdom (ca. 1539 - 1075 BCE)
Provenance

To 1909
Maurice Nahman (1868-1948), Cairo, Egypt, to 1909 [1]

From 1909 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Maurice Nahman in 1909 [2]

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

Notes:

[1] See Original Pottery List, L. 1985, 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
Maurice Nahman (C.L. Freer source) 1868-1948

Description

Dish: deep, round; small concave base. Broken and repaired. Clay: soft, gray. Glaze: deep green-blue with areas of discoloration and partial disintegration. Decoration: drawn in manganese, over glaze.

Label

This type of bowl, decorated with painted fish and lotus flowers, was a ritual object in New Kingdom Egypt (ca. 1539–1075 B.C.E.) and is often found in tombs. The lotus symbolized rebirth because the blue lotus sinks below the surface of the water each evening at sunset and re-emerges each morning at sunrise. The Tilapia fish, which also symbolized rebirth, is often included in the designs. This type of fish holds its eggs in its mouth until they hatch, thus appearing to regenerate spontaneously when live fish swim out of the parent's mouth. The design at the center symbolizes a pool, or water in general, and the entire work comes to represent the marsh and the symbols of rebirth found therein.
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These bowls are particularly associated with the goddess Hathor, and many are decorated with her symbols. While the function of the bowls is unclear, many show signs of wear and have been found in tombs. They may have been ritual containers for water, wine, or even milk. The symbolism of rebirth also implies their use as funerary objects or at least as votive objects to a deity like Hathor, who was connected to the necropolis and thus linked to the protection and rebirth of the dead.

Published References
  • Elizabeth T. Riefstahl. Ancient Egyptian Glass and Glazes in the Brooklyn Museum. Wilbour monographs, 1 Brooklyn. .
  • Alexander Kaczmarczyk, Robert E. M. Hedges. Ancient Egyptian Faience: An Analytical Survey of Egyptian Faience from Predynastic to Roman Times. Warminster, England. .
  • 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. .
  • Ann C. Gunter. A Collector's Journey: Charles Lang Freer and Egypt. Washington and London, 2002. p. 49, fig. 2.18.
Collection Area(s)
Ancient Egyptian Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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