Cosmetic spoon depicting a swimming girl. New Kingdom, Dynasties 18–19, 1550–1185 B. C.

Ivory, ebony wood, painted
L. 19,4 cm; w. 4,5 cm; th. 4 cm
Purchased from Vladimir Golenischev
I.1.а 3627
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In Egyptology a cosmetic spoon means an ornately shaped vessel for cosmetic paints or aromatic
oils that were especially popular during the 18th and 19th dynasties. However, the scientists still
argue over the exact purpose of these objects. Some doubt, whether they were just beautiful
containers for incense, or had a religious meaning. If the last version is right, the spoons might
have contained some sacrificial substances or elements of religious rituals.

The iconography of the spoons is based on the images of women, Nile vegetation, or beautiful
gardens.

The vessel is shaped as a pink lotus flower and has a side-shifting lid. An ivory figurine of a
swimming girl serves as a handle. The girl's head is covered with a dark brown wig from ebony.
Rectangular ridges on it imitate locks. The neck is decorated with an engraved necklace from
lotus petals, and an ornate belt girds her waist. On the lower part of the thighs there is a
schematic image (possibly a tattoo) of the god Bes, the patron of homes and the protector of
women and children.

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