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HOME : Egyptian Antiquities : Archive : Globular Flask with Zoomorphic Loop Handles
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Globular Flask with Zoomorphic Loop Handles - LO.612
Origin: Egypt
Circa: 664 BC to 404 BC
Dimensions: 6.2" (15.7cm) high x 4.8" (12.2cm) wide
Collection: Egyptian Collection
Medium: Faience

Additional Information: SOLD

Location: Great Britain
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This faience flask is lentoid in shape. It is decorated in relief at the shoulder with a floral pattern designed as a broad collar. Its thick neck is decorated with three torus-like moldings above which is an incised, triangular pattern. The neck widens toward the top and flares out so that the mouth of the flask is set within a broad, everted lip. The form of the neck, with its decoration, and of the mouth and lip are intentionally designed to evoke a papyrus umbel. There is a head of an ibex affixed to the each side of the shoulder, connected to the neck by means of struts.

Each vertical band on the side of the flask is inscribed in hieroglyphs which may be translated into English as (side 1), “May the god Ptah of Memphis bestow his protection upon the owner of this vessel;” and (side 2), “May the God Re grant a prosperous New Year for the owner of this vessel.”

The New Year began in ancient Egypt in late summer when the Nile River rose in flood. These fructifying waters marked the beginning of a new agricultural season which symbolized the beginning of another cosmic cycle, and insured renewal, rebirth, and resurrection. It is for these reasons that this flask was created in green- colour faience, which has been effected by the passing of so many centuries. The colour green symbolized rebirth and reinforced the floral imagery in the broad collar around this vessel’s shoulder. It is for these same reasons as well that the neck and mouth of this flask were intentionally designed as a papyrus umbel because the universe as the Egyptians understood it was created when the sun’s rays at dawn first struck the watery abyss, occasionally symbolized by a papyrus marsh. The annual flooding of the Nile and its papyrus marshes were constant reminders of the creation. Water from the Nile’s flood was collected in this flask which was then dedicated on behalf of its owner in a sanctuary at Memphis so that he or she might enjoy the protection of Ptah and reap Re’s prosperity.

The ibex is an animal traditionally associated with Persia. One can, therefore, assume that this New Year’s flask was created at the end of Dynasty XXVI, when the Persian presence in Egypt began to increase, or during Dynasty XXVII when Egypt was incorporated as a satrapy, or province within the Persian Empire.

- (LO.612)


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