Amulet of the goddess Taweret

Amulet of the hippopotamus goddess, Taweret, modeled in the round. Both legs broken at the thighs; left hand missing. She takes the form of a female hippopotamus standing upright on her hind legs. She has a rounded stomach and very pendulous breasts. She wears a tri-partite wig, the back portion of which ends in a crocodile tail. The suspension loop is attached in back at the point where the wig is transformed into a crocodile tail. She strides with her left leg forward, arms held at her sides.

Historical period(s)
Third Intermediate Period, ca. 1075-656 BCE
Medium
Faience (glazed composition)
Dimensions
H x W x D: 6 x 2 x 2.4 cm (2 3/8 x 13/16 x 15/16 in)
Geography
Egypt
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
F1907.21
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Faience
Type

Amulet

Keywords
Egypt, protection, Taweret, Third Intermediate Period (ca. 1075 - 656 BCE)
Provenance

To 1906-1907
Unidentified owner, Egypt, to 1906-1907 [1]

From 1906-1907 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased in Egypt from an unidentified owner in the winter of 1906-1907 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]

Notes:

[1] See Original Pottery List, L. 1841, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919

Description

Amulet of the hippopotamus goddess, Taweret, modeled in the round. Both legs broken at the thighs; left hand missing. She takes the form of a female hippopotamus standing upright on her hind legs. She has a rounded stomach and very pendulous breasts. She wears a tri-partite wig, the back portion of which ends in a crocodile tail. The suspension loop is attached in back at the point where the wig is transformed into a crocodile tail. She strides with her left leg forward, arms held at her sides.

Label

Small amulets of faience, stone, ceramic, metal, or glass, were common possessions in ancient Egypt. They were most often fashioned in the form of gods and goddesses or of animals sacred to those deities. Amulets gave their owners magical protection from a wide variety of ills and evil forces, including sickness, infertility, and death in childbirth. They were often provided with loops so they could be strung and worn like a necklace. Some amulets were made to place on the body of the deceased in order to protect the soul in the hereafter.

Taweret, the hippopotamus goddess, was the goddess of women and children and, most importantly, of the moment of childbirth. With her rounded belly and pendulous breasts indicating a pregnant female, Taweret was associated most specifically with childbirth, and she was often depicted watching over the birthing bed. Taweret amulets would have been worn during life by women and children. In the tomb, they were placed on the body of the deceased as a symbol of rebirth.

Published References
  • Carol Andrews. Amulets of Ancient Egypt. Austin. .
  • Ann C. Gunter. A Collector's Journey: Charles Lang Freer and Egypt. Washington and London, 2002. p. 130, fig. 5.5.
Collection Area(s)
Ancient Egyptian Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum