Fertility Figurine
Faience, 1 15/16 x 13/16 in. (5 x 2 cm)
Middle Kingdom, XII Dynasty-early XIII Dynasty, ca. 1938-1630 B.C.E.
Provenance not known
Brooklyn #44.226, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
Photo © Joan Lansberry, May 2008-2016

(from the info card, seen May 2008)
"Statuettes of naked women with incomplete legs, like this example, have been found in Middle Kingdom tombs and houses. Early Egyptologists mistakenly identified them as concubines intended to provide the spirits of men with an eternity of sexual pleasure.

"Recent studies show that both men and women used these figures to ensure fertility. In the home, they were believed to enhance a wife's fruitfulness and a husband's potency by invoking Hathor, the goddess of sexual love. As tomb offerings, they guaranteed the deceased's sexual power in the afterlife."

However, in "Paddle Dolls and Performance" (JARCE 47, 2011), Ellen Morris does note the connection with Hathor regarding these legless figurines, but presents the well supported theory they could have represented members of dancing troups:

"The commonly held notion that paddle dolls and their truncated descendants, should be considered 'generic images that related to the general notion of fertility, encompassing sexuality, conception and the successful bearing and rearing of children' must be reconsidered and their specific social persona acknowledged. These figurines were khener-dancers, whose exuberant, theatric, and ultimately regenerative dances performed for the benefit of kings and deities could also be harnessed for those that owned them." (page 103)

She presents several lines of evidence to support her 'dancer' conclusion: location, tattoos, exposure, costume, demographics, music, mirrors, and menat necklaces.