Bowl decorated with hippopotami
Egypt, Mesaid, tomb 26, no. 6; Naqada I, 3850–3650 B.C.E.
Pottery (Nile silt ware), Height x diameter: 6.8 x 19.4 cm (2 11/16 x 7 5/8 in.)
Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition 1911, MFA #11.312
"This bowl shows stylized hippopotami in a landscape. The animals appear in profile, with clearly delineated eyes, ears, legs, and tails. The wavy, concentric lines at the center are meant to represent water, while the zigzag lines around the border suggest cliffs on the horizon. Scenes of wild creatures may have been intended to impart the animals' powers to the vessels' owners, granting them success in the hunt and protection from danger in the afterlife." (From the info card)
The info card from that exhibit describes it as "White Cross-lined Ware", and says further:
"The artist superbly executed the three animals within the confines of a well-defined circle, below zigzag lines meant to identify their watery home. Such organized placement brings to mind the orderly rows of animals on much later ritual objects--the Davis comb, for example--or on temple and tomb walls, where they indicate control over the wild or the dangerous."
Photos ©Joan Ann Lansberry, 2014