Caryatid Mirror - ROM2005_4034_2


Caryatid Mirror

Medium:Bronze, cast
Geography: Excavated at Abydos, Egypt
Date: c. 1550-1295 BC
Period: 18th Dynasty, New Kingdom
25.3 x 13.6 cm
Object number: 910.100.4
Credit Line: Gift of Sir Robert Mond
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

This lovely mirror has an oval disk and a handle in the form of a naked young girl who lifts her arms gracefully to touch the papyrus umbral above her head.  Mirrors like this were in fashion among the upper class during the Eighteenth Dynasty.

The disk is reminiscent of the slightly flattened shape of the rising and setting sun, a symbol of regeneration.  The papyrus umbral is likewise an image of fertility, and the young girl speaks of grace, pleasure, and procreation.  Such mirrors were not simply or entirely household objects, but also carried connotations of the goddess Hathor, and associated the owner with that goddess of beauty and love. 

Images of mirrors are often found in tombs, and pictures of the mirrors appear under the seats of women, or in their hands.  The name for mirror shared the sound 'ankh' with the word for life, perhaps because a living image appears in it.

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