Funerary model of cow giving birth - ROM2004_1039_12


Funerary model of cow giving birth

Geography: Probably from Meir, Egypt
Period: Early Middle Kingdom
Date: c. 2040-1985 BC
Medium:Wood, carved and painted
21.6 x 47.2 x 17.8 cm
Credit Line: No credit line
Object number: 910.18.16.2
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

This charming wooden tomb model dates to the Middle Kingdom (ca. 2055 -1650 BC). Models depicting various aspects of daily life, especially food production, were placed in tombs to ensure the deceased everlasting prosperity. In some magical way, the people and animals would work and provide for the tomb owner in the Afterlife.

Although such models are fairly common, the subject here is very rare.  The vignette of a cow giving birth was popular in tomb paintings, but the ROM model is one of only a handful of three-dimensional representations known.  This balanced grouping shows how animal husbandry was practiced in ancient Egypt;  one man calms the cow while the other stands ready to catch the healthy and energetic newborn calf. The calf emerges already licking the hand that will feed it.

Tomb models were often enhanced by use of textiles, for sails on boats in particular.  Here the two farmhands wear real linen kilts over painted ones, and the cow has a lovely braided fibre tail.

Browse Categories:Sacred & Ceremonial
Title: Ancient Egypt transformed: The Middle Kingdom
Place Published: New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Year Published: 2015
# Of Pages: 380
Oppenheim, Adela
Arnold, Dorothea
Arnold, Dieter
Yamamoto, Kei
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