Male "Tag" Figure - ROM2018_16147_11


Male "Tag" Figure

Geography: Undetermined site, Upper Egypt
Date: c. 3500-3100 BC
Period: Naqada II, Predynastic Period
5.7 × 3.2 × 0.3 cm
Object number: 909.80.76
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

"Tag" figurines have prominant grooves at the lower end for the attachment of leather thongs. It is not certain how they were used, but there are examples of several tags found in graves lying along the forearm of the body. The suggestion is that they may have served an amuletic function protecting the deceased. During life they may have been hung from worn garments, as hunting trophies. The ancient artisan would choose a small flat piece of ivory (such as from a hippopotamus incisor), bone or stone and carve a head at one end, a rectangular body and then two deep notches at the junction of the body and feet. 

This object represents a human figure with a flat, thin, rectangular body, surmounted by a triangular head. The pointed chin would seem to indicate a beard, hence the figure is identified as male. The top of the head is curved with a projecting ear on each side. There are two deeply drilled circular eyes with pupils filled with a black paste. The nose and mouth of the figure are lightly incised.  On both the front and back of the body three incised diagonal lines come from the edge at the shoulders and meet in the lower center. Although on the front these incisions suggest folded arms, the incisions on the back suggest some sort of garment may be indicated. Othewise, the back is flat and smooth. The base is flat, separated from the body by a notch on either side to indicate the feet of the figure.

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