Marsh bowl fragment - 907.18.219_3


Marsh bowl fragment

Medium:Glazed composition (faience)
Geography: Excavated at Deir el-Bahri, Egypt
Date: c. 1550-1295 BC
Period: 18th Dynasty, New Kingdom
3.4 cm
Object number: 907.18.219
Not on view

Due to their decorative elements, small shallow bowls made of turquoise faience with black decoration are known as "marsh bowls" (Pinch 1993 p 309f.). These decorative elements include aquatic and floral motifs on both the interior and exterior of the vessel, indicative of the regnerative power of the Nile's waters. This example was excavated by the Egypt Exploration Society at the site of Deir el-Bahri. It is likely that it was used as an offering vessel in some kind of ritual, possibly involving the offering of milk to the cow goddess, Hathor.

The back or exterior of the vessel is decorated with a pattern of triangular lotus leaves. The interior scene depicts a small tree with six leafy branches, one of which is being nibbled on by a gazelle. Preserved is the gazelle head to the left of the tree, drawn in profile facing right. The gazelle’s head is complete with a large frontal eye, small nose, black ear and two knobbly horns. The upper part of the gazelle’s neck is preserved with a black horizontal band. It seems odd that a desert animal, such as the gazelle, would be depicted in a marsh scene; the explanation is that these gazelles are shown nursing their young and thus are images of fertility, just like the aquatic flora and fauna. Behind the gazelle’s head is an open lotus blossom decorated with criss-cross lines. Below the gazelle’s head are three long-stemmed lotus buds. To the right of the tree are the edge of what appear to be two bulti-fish

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