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Unknown artist, Egyptian
Hippopotamus, 2040-1638 BCE
Faience
7.8 x 5.2 x 20.3 cm (3 1/16 x 2 1/16 x 8 inches)
Museum Appropriation Fund 29.119

On View

Egyptian

Hippopotamus

Unknown artist, Egyptian
Hippopotamus, 2040-1638 BCE
Faience
7.8 x 5.2 x 20.3 cm (3 1/16 x 2 1/16 x 8 inches)
Museum Appropriation Fund 29.119

Faience hippos made for nonroyal use, like this one, have blue-green glazed bodies painted with Nile plants and animals that recall their marshy habitat. Hippos were fearsome beasts, and early kings are sometimes shown spearing roaring hippos in a scene that became a metaphor for imposing order on chaos. Centuries later, non-royal individuals included broken-legged hippos in their coffins. The breakage was intended symbolically to subjugate the creatures, who might otherwise harm the deceased. The hippopotamus was also a power for good. Tawaret, a hippo goddess, protected women in pregnancy and childbirth.


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