Monkey group statuette - ROM2018_16310_36


Monkey group statuette

Geography: Probably from Amarna, Egypt
Date: c. 1352-1327 BC
Period: Late 18th Dynasty, Amarna Period, New Kingdom
6 x 6.3 x 2 cm
Object number: 948.34.156
Credit Line: Gift of Sir Robert Mond
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

A lively depiction of larger monkeys holding smaller monkeys, this statuette seems to serve no purpose other than to amuse its owner.  Monkeys were common pets in New Kingdom Egypt and a number of small limestone statuettes such as this have been uncovered by Petrie at the site of Amarna in Middle Egypt.  The group of monkeys can be appreciated on its own as a family grouping perhaps grooming each other.  It may also possibly be interpreted as a parody of the Egyptian royal family of Akhenaten, Nefertiti and their daughters who are frequently shown in intimate poses.

This statuette of a group of six monkeys forms a roughly triangular shape on a flat irregular oval base.  One side of the triangle is formed by a large monkey hunched over sitting on his haunches with his knees bent upward.  His arms are extended forward and his hands are clasped on top of the head of a medium sized monkey sitting in front of him. This medium sized monkey faces forward and holds a smaller monkey on his left side. Under the right elbow of the larger monkey is a medium sized monkey clasping a small monkey in its arms. On the left side a medium sized monkey is seated facing the larger monkey’s left leg.  The facial features of the smaller monkeys are less distinct, but all seem to have large outlined eyes, a prominent snout with slanted nostrils and a line indicating a mouth. The statuette seems to have been washed clean, but traces of paint remain on the figure, some black around the eyes and some brown in the body creases. Overall the style is lively and naturalistic reminiscent of Amarna art.

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