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Reflections on Mirrors

Christine Lilyquist
Metropolitan Museum of Art

am happy to contribute to David OConnors festschrift by highlighting some interesting aspects

that have emerged from my long-standing study of Egyptian mirrors (LiLyquist 1979; 1982).1
Most of the items discussed here come from sites where David has worked.

Early Metal Casting

Cast metal handles of New Kingdom mirrors are remarkable for their relative profusion and quality: what precedes them? Metalworking prowess is apparent in the openwork stand inscribed for
Khetywhere technical features indicate casting2 and the inscription signals a Heracleopolitan
period date3and in round openwork parade axes which have been considered pre-Middle
Kingdom on the basis of paleography and titles but which may be a bit later.4
Related to the openwork stand in technological skill is a mirror which came to the Egyptian
Museum Cairo in 1859 from Quornah, 22.6 cm high (Fig. 1; Bndite 1907: CG 44018).5 The
handle is roughly shaped like a papyrus column but both umbel and shaft are openwork. The
capital is solid across the curved top surface, its edges cross-hatched above two cobras. The hoods
of the cobras are delineated and are backed by vertical strips forming the sides of the umbel.
Within the umbel is a casing which holds the tang of the mirror; that casing is roughly as wide
as the figures in front of it but does not run all the way to the base of the umbel. The shaft of
the papyrus column is open at the bottom.
Each side of the columns capital has two men kneeling on nb-signs, and each of the four men
holds a wAs-sign forward while resting a mace on the other shoulder. The hair of each person is
striated vertically and each has a belt suggesting a kilt. On the columns hollow shaft, five bands
represent ties holding papyrus stalks together while zigzags surround the base, and hatched vertical
strips create four separate zones in-between. The subjects in the four zones alternate horizontally
around the shaft and are, from top to bottom, falcon/vulture, man/falcon, vulture/man, and cobra/
vulture. Each of these subjects rests on a nb-sign, and each but the cobra holds a flail.



Fig. 1: Mirror with openwork

handle, Cairo CG 44018. Author

Fig. 2: Mirror with braided

handle (MFA 20.1791) and strip
of leatherwork (Su.711) from
Kerma. Author photo.

Fig. 3: Standing mirror of exceptional size with integrated stand,

Cleveland 1983.196. Museum

What is one to make of this unusual iconography and the summarily formed figures? I suggest that Egyptian iconography has been used by an artisan who does not understand it, and
to some degree am reminded of the dagger hilt from Byblos with kneeling figures amongst an
animal menagerie (JideJian 1968: fig. 79). The Gourna mirror handle also recalls the pierced effect
of early Dynasty 18 steatite kohl pots highlighted by cartoon-like flora and fauna (LiLyquist 1995:
112). Thus the mirrors date would be late Second Intermediate Period, with the Aniba standsalso
showing metal casting prowess but playful and poorly-drawn formsnot far away.6
Other early mirrors with cast handles include an example apparently from Buhen (a papyrus
column; LiLyquist 1979: fig. 76)7 and an example from Abydos (a papyrus column with braided
shaft).8 The latter type of handle is known from Kerma, where paired falcons, cobras, and Hathoric
faces are sometimes added as well.9 A small thin-gauge example with Hathor faces and cobras
is illustrated here (Fig. 2);10 that it and other mirrors with cast handles from Kerma were made
locally can be seen not only from their poor forms but from the braid motif that occurs on local
leather and ivory items.11 It should also be noted that mirror disks are not uncommon in Nubian
C-group graves, sometimes with motifs not found in Egypt.12

Mirrors with Figure Handles

While the papyrus column has the longest and most conspicuous history as a handle for Egyptian
mirrors, a surprising number of the 18th19th Dynasty handles known replace the columns shaft
with a nude female figure. The practice is notable from the fact that, in comparison with males,
only a few copper alloy figures of females are known before the New Kingdom in comparison with
males.13 I know of only one figure from Abydos,14 one from Tell Basta,15 and one of unknown
provenance.16 Claire Derriks has catalogued 85 of the metal caryatid mirrors (derriks 2001a;
2001b) and there are at least a dozen more (see note 1). The earliest example of the metal type


Reflections on Mirrors

Fig. 5: Robert Hay drawing

of mirror with stand in TT
161. British Library photo.

Fig. 4: Smaller mirror with integrated stand, private collection.

Author photo.

appears to be from Abydos, where the young woman holds her

arms at her sides and a spreading umbel crowns her head.17
From this humble beginning evolves the magnificent 38.9
cm-high, 3.87 lb/1.76 kg mirror in Cleveland with impressive
female figure on a cruciform base (Fig. 3).18 Her arms, at her
sides, are separately cast, and the chased detail and overlaid
blackened bronze of the pubic area are remarkable. At least
three other mirrors equipped with stands are known (see Fig.
4 for another, 26.6 cm h), and I believe such a mirror is represented in TT 161 as drawn by Robert Hay (Fig. 5).19
Who are the females? Some could be servants, as advocated
broadly by Joaquim Quack (2003); their hairstyle, tattoos, crossbands, or figure-type show foreignness and therefore lower
position.20 Some have the outer lips of the vulva delineated as
a sign of their sexuality. Some share all the iconographic features on wooden furniture supports from Buhen (Fig. 6).21
A number of wooden figures, similar to the metal caryatid
handles, may have been handles for mirrors. These females
stand on bases, often with one hand at the waist (empty or
holding a cat or bird), the other hand against the side or
pushing hair behind the shoulder.22 They differ from normal
statuettes only in having a hole in the top of the head. That
at least one such figure was a mirror handle has recently been
confirmed by the British Museum (Fig. 7).23 The young woman
depicted holds a cat (?) to her breast in her left hand and holds
her right [damaged] hand against her side. The hooded eyes, full
Fig. 6: Two furniture legs from Buhen, Univ. Mus. 103449a, b. From
Randall-Maciver and woolley: 1911.



Fig. 7: wooden igure

with remains of metal
disk and tang, BM
32732. Author photo.

Fig. 8: wooden igure from Gourob

group 4, Ashmolean 1890.936. Author

Fig. 9: Mirror with Bes handle,

Cleveland 1983.195 (now missing).
Museum photo.

mouth, and crease at the neck show post-Amarna style; both her wig and pubic hair are painted
black. She is not as elegant as the nude figure Biri Fay recently published as an unmarried woman
of high rank (2004);24 at the same time, she wears a modius, an item often worn by royal women
(LiLyquist 2002: 160f.; troy 1986: 122).
A figure in the Ashmolean museum from Gourob may be a mirror handle as well (Fig. 8).25
This wooden figure likewise wears a modius on a boucl wig, but has cross-ties, girdle, broad
collar, wristlet, and ball earrings, sometimes highlighted by Egyptian blue (pinkish plaster
makes the effect sumptuous). Remarkably, the figure has a back pillar on which convolvulus
vines are incised, and it allows both heels of the figure to be off the ground, as on the Buhen
furniture supports. The figures right leg is advanced and her right arm is bent to her waist.
Petrie identified the figure as a queen, but there is another possibility: it could have belonged
to a mirror disk in the tomb that fit the hole in the top of the head. While the figure is warped
and lightweight from dryness now, it may be that the two items went together to form a freestanding mirror like the metal examples of Figs. 34.

Symbolism of Figure Handles

Bruce Williams proposed that the female figure of a mirror found at Qustul was actually Hathor.26
There is some logic to Williams identification: Hathor faces appear on mirror umbels as early as
Dynasty 11 (LiLyquist 1979: fig. 35), Besa more minor deityappears as a mirror handle (Fig.
9),27 and, in the Kushite Period (c. 780660 BCE), several major deities stand against a papyriform column handle, once with a king.28 Nor is Williams the only scholar who has suggested an
element of the divine in the nude women depicted on Egyptian cosmetic items (HornBLower 1929:
42; kozLoff 1992; scHneider 1997). Certainly the elegant nude (the queen?) on the tinted ivory


Reflections on Mirrors

mirror case of Henettawy, holding floral bouquets and surrounded by ducks and nests symbolizing vitality and birth,
appears to have a cultic role.29
Lawrence Berman has suggested that the females of
mirror handles are nfrwt, young women in the train of
Hathor.30 Maya Mller, in her work on the goddess in the
boat, analyzes the nude maidens of the Papyrus Westcar
thus (paraphrase from MLLer 2003: 82):
the woman is not herself a goddess, though in some cases
she comes close. She is at once both a woman and a child.
As a woman, she embodies the erotic attraction that underlines the continuous procreation of new life. As a child, she
embodies newborn life. She is thus in both cases the bearer
of an enormous rejuvenating potential.
Fertility is signaled both by a mirror handle in
Indianapolis where the femalewith tripartite wigholds
Fig. 10: Mirror from Saqqara having
a child, and on a mirror from Buhen where a servant holds
wooden handle inserted with four
a cat forward (derriks 2001a: nos. 32, 74). Several mirrors
nude female igures, Cairo JdE 50280.
been found in temple precincts (although without
Author photo.
meaningful contexts); Derriks noted two (2002a: 41), and
Gustav Jquier excavated one in the temple area of Pepy II (he believed it had originated in a
tomb). The latter has four nude females standing at cardinal points (Fig. 10; Cairo JdE 50280,
Jquier 1940: 43f., fig. 39). I suggest that mirrors standing on their own supports could have
been placed in a shrine (although they also had a more private use as seen in the tomb painting of TT 161, above). I also believe that certain mirror disks that seem to date Dynasties
2526 show representations of mirrors with stands presented to goddesses (Bndite 1907: CG
A related observation is that there is evidence of mirrors being used in pairs in earlier times
(LiLyquist 1979: 94). The two large mirrors from Cleveland are similar in size and history (Figs.
3, 9); two mirrors in Chicago share physical characteristics and were acquired at the same time
(derriks 2001a: nos. 10-11); and two mirrors from Abydos were found in the same tomb (loc. cit.,
nos. 28, 45; see MMA database and snape 1990: 360f.).
That holding a mirrors handle could actually put the owner in touch with the goddess is
suggested by a scene in the tomb of Rekhmira where young women extend sistra and menats to
the owner:31
May the daughter of Ra favor and cherish you! May she place her daily protection behind
you while she embraces you! Touch her majesty, while she, on her part, puts her arms around
your shoulders that you may enjoy a long and fortunate existence on earth, and that life,
happiness, and health may enfold you.

References within Mirrors to Other Cultures

Much of my work in the past 20 years has probed the relations of Egypt and her neighbors, looking in material culture for signs of change that could have been brought about through contact



with various people coming into the Nile valley.32 This article will end with reports on two recent
Among the female statuettes that have been called mirror handles are ivory women with a
hole in the top of the head (Fig. 11).33 Virtually each wears a voluminous wig and a modius,
holding one hand at the side and the other empty but open at the breast. Occasionally the eyes
are drilled and there is a monkey at the feet. Unfortunately, no figure that I am aware of has been
excavated with a disk,34 and one such figure has kohl in it (Ashmolean 1923.621). Provenanced
figures come from large deposits of hippo bone and ivory at Matmar35 and Qau36from granaries in houses within the temple area and a pit near a cemetery. They were broadly dated by
Guy Brunton to the Ramesside period (c. 12951070 BCE). A double kohl tube in the Egyptian
section of the British Museumwith two nude figures standing on cats and flanking a free-standing figure whose head and body accommodated a kohl stick - were thought by Richard Barnett
to be of Syrian workmanship (1935: 193). A free-standing figure of the type has been found in
Crete (BHM 2003: fig. 6) and a kohl tube with figure in relief has been found at Samos (freyerscHauenBurg 1966: 11 no. 29, 15 pl. 32, context c. 670 BCE). Bhm has categorized the latter two
figures as Egyptian, but in my view, all of these ivories have a connection with the Near East.
One item from Qau, for example, shows two nude females side by side, recalling the handle of
a spoon from Nimrud.37 Mirrors with figure handles themselves were known in the Near East,
according to the Amarna correspondence.38 Lenore Congdon suggests that the Greek caryatid
mirror, particularly those with nude handles, can be traced to Egypt (1981: 712). If it could be
established that the ivory figures from Qau and Matmar surveyed here were in fact used as mirror
handles, it would add to evidence from Egypt relevant to the caryatid mirrors of archaic Greece
(c. 660480 BCE):39 standing metal and wood figure handles of Dynasties 1819 (c. 15501070
BCE), Kushite mirror handles with deities (c. 780660 BCE), and representations of mirrors with
stands (Bndite 1907: CG 44080) shown on mirror disks c. Dynasties 25-26 (c. 780525 BCE).
The gesture of holding a bird to the waist, so often seen on New Kingdom metal mirror handles,
occurs on three unusual figure vases (Fig. 12, for the front of one from Abydos40 and the back of
one of unknown origin;41 the third is in Copenhagen, Jorgensen 1998: no. 133). In all three the
woman is clothed in a long shapeless sheath that leaves her ankles free. The left leg is forward, the
right hand cradles a bird, and the left arm is bent, merging with a vessel that it cradles (missing
on the Manchester example). There is a simple necklace, large ball earrings, and an exceptionally
long black echeloned wig; the face is full, the features crude; the navel is indicated except on
the Copenhagen example. The overall impression is graceless. Despite the sheath that the Abydos
example wears, the figure has a boldly painted black pubic triangle as well as sloppily painted red
bands on the upper part of the body, as if a belt with suspenders were worn. Ayrton judged the body
found with this vessel to have belonged to a girl not more than fourteen year of age, thus the
unusual objects buried with her raise the question of her origin and role in Egyptian society: 42
1) an elegant pottery vase shaped as a kneeling female, often illustrated (Bourriau 1987: 90,
pl. 29: 1);
2) a pottery bottle with post-firing decoration (Hope 1987: 43; painted with green, blue, yellow, red, white, pale and dark copper blue);
3) a pottery bottle of cream-colored ware decorated on the upper part with buff wash where
black vertical lines intersect with horizontal bands of blue, red, and light blue;
4) a pottery ring vase of orange clay with dark red hatching, having pomegranate, lotus, and
bud shapes attached;


Reflections on Mirrors

Fig. 11: Hippo ivory female from Qau 7260, Bolton

1924.31.60. Author photos.

Fig. 12: Pottery igure vases: left, Ashmolean E2431

from Abydos; right, The Manchester Museum/The
University of Manchester II c 259. Museum photos.

5) a pair of appliqud green leather shoes with curled, pointed toes (van drieL-Murray 2000:
6) a quantity of beads made of faience (blue, red, yellow, black), glass (yellow, green, gold,
light and dark blue), travertine, carnelian, copper, and shell;
7) a carnelian uraeus pendant.
Colin Hope dates the two painted oval jars to Tuthmosis III-Tuthmosis IV (personal communication 12 October 2006), while Janine Bourriau dates them to the time of Amenhotep III or a little
later (1987: 90 7.3). Figure vases have been connected both with Egypt and the Aegean; and
while they have no close parallel outside Egyptas has been pointed out by othersanthropomorphic and zoomorphic features on vessels are known in the Levant and Aegean throughout history.43 Certainly the shoes from the Abydos grave are of foreign type: van Driel-Murray mentions
Hittite characteristics, but one might also cite the lists of shoes sent by Mitanni king Tushratta
to Egypt (Moran 1992: 53 [EA 22 ii 2336]). Shoes similar in feature and date to those found in
Abydos w1 were found at Deir el Medineh in the East Cemetery (MonteMBauLt 2000: 19, 204f.),
where Pierrat-Bonnefois (2003) has seen evidence of non-Egyptian traits among the occupants.
However, it is the pottery ring vase that is the most unusual object in Abydos w1. Other examples
have been found in Egypt from the early Middle Kingdom to the Dynasty 18-Abydos example;
Bignasca (2000) has catalogued an example at Sedment (O28),44 Beni Hassan (O28a), Tell elMaskuta (loc. cit. note 1231), Deir el-Bahari (O39),45 and Diospolis Parva (O37; this example has
legs). The vessel type is not native to Egypt, its first occurrence being in the late 4th millennium near the Dead Sea (loc. cit. 250258). In the 3rd millennium it has been found in northern



Mesopotamia, Syria, Byblos, and Cyprus; in the 2nd millennium on Crete, in Western Anatolia,
Syria, Palestine, and Cyprus; and in the 1st millennium in Iran, Etruria, Cyprus, Palestine, and
Greece. Over time, the typewith and without legsis most plentiful in Cyprus. Einwag and Otto
(1996: 42f.) thought it especially popular in Syria during the Late Bronze Age, and several examples at Gezer (Bignasca O51) and Megiddo (O60O61) have red line decoration. Of special interest
are Bignascas findings that ring vases have been found in contexts with magicians specializing
in divination and persons who had died prematurely, and his conclusion that the vessels use was
aimed at the promotion of fertility and the re-establishment of [cosmic order], an interpretation
that could fit examples at a Hathor shrine like that at Deir el-Bahari.
Of course a bird at the waistas we see on the standing figure vase from Abydos w1seems
entirely Egyptian when considering the depiction in Nakhts tomb (TT 52) where the family is
fowling in the marshes. Nevertheless it is interesting to observe the motif in the context of an
unusual and puzzling figure vase. Perhaps eventually the gesture could tell us something new
about mirrors as well as ancient Egypt.


My MS volume was completed in 1971 but not published until 1979. It contained only pre-New Kingdom
mirrors and representations that had been found in Egypt, the Middle Kingdom forts, Kerma, and Byblos.
The data on C-Group mirrors and on mirrors and representations from Dynasty 18 to the Coptic period
in Egypt and the Sudan (with detailed archaeological information and dating) have recently been entered
into a database at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and will be available to colleagues in the near future.
I thank Marta Ameri for checking references in the current paper.
As discussed with Lawrence Fane, an experienced sculptor in New York. The voids would have been impossible to remove with a saw, and the rounded edges of some signs would have been impossible to form
with a ile. The object is often referred to as a brazier but its shape is unique.
Louvre E 10501: Maspero 1903: 298 (before restoration) and petrie 1916: ig. 66. Hieroglyphic signs form
the openwork walls of the object, while the base has an openwork diamond pattern. There are eight holes
around the upper edge, made from outside to inside, and four legs below; the measurements are 13 16
4.7 cm h. A metallurgical analysis of June 1967 yielded quite high percentages of tin and lead (J-L. de
cenivaL, personal communication).
Henry Fischers study of paleography and title on MMA 26.7.834 led him to date this axe to the First
Intermediate period (letter of 25 August, 1992; 1968: 26f.; 1978: 53 note 7; 1981: 60). However, any
presumed archaeological support from Dendera for a precise date of such axesas implied in Hayes 1959:
213should be withheld. Charles Roshers plan in the University Archives at the University of Pennsylvaniaas kindly made available by David OConnorshows two pits with Beba (Bronzes, pottery) written
next to them. The ledger of the American Exploration Society (which funded Rosher) identiies Univ. Mus.
E3618 (AES number 395) as Axe head; Bronze, open work; Cynocephalus; Tomb of Bebat; and E3620
(AES 397) as Axe head; Bronze, open work. Among the pottery from Roshers excavations are two vessels and a rim fragment that might be imagined to come from the same tomb as the axes. The pottery is of
marl clay, Dynasty XI/early XII. Each item is marked with a female sign to indicate the sex of the burial.
The jar E3455 (AES 160) is identiied as Roman pottery. Ptolemaic period; the carinated bowl E3542
(AES 314) is linked to Bebat pit tomb; the rim of a similar carinated bowl E3543 (AES 315) is described
as Inscribed, Part of bowl similar to E3542. (Alex Pezatti kindly clariied this information.) Each of the


Reflections on Mirrors







pottery pieces has the hieratic inscription imAx bbi nDs/t. David Silverman and Jennifer Wegner studied
the inscriptions of these pots and posed a date of end of First Intermediate Period, closer to Hekanakht
than the end of the Old Kingdom (letter 22 July 1993).
I am grateful to colleagues of the Egyptian Museum Cairo over the years who have allowed me access to
and publication permission for many objects, including this mirror: Henri Riad, Abdl-Qadr Selim, Mohammed Saleh, Mohammed Mohsen, and Galal Sherawi.
See dreyfus 2005, and the differences in the Field Museum Chicago stand inscribed for Pa-am, the Asiatic.
University Museum E.14210, 14 cm h; probably originally E. 10814.
Philadelphia E.9211 from E.145, 18.35 cm h: garstang 1901:10, 44, pl. 14. It is not clear whether small
lightweight lotus pads from Abydos were mirrors and of this date: BM 57900, 11.2 cm h (LiLyquist 1979:
ig. 21); CG 44051, 16.7 cm h (Bndite: 1907).
For these mirrors, which can be as high as 23.2 cm, see reisner 1923: 17880, pl. 48. All of them were
in Tumulus KIII, the latest dated group burial. I mistakenly published them in LiLyquist: 1979 as pre-New
Kingdom; the terminus of Kerma is now set in Dynasty 18 (davies 2005: 52f.).
The mirror is Museum of Fine Arts Boston 20.1791, 18.8 cm h, from the K III corridor, and is dated by the
Museum late Dynasty 13early Dynasty 18, c 1700-1550 BCE. The leather strap Su.711 pictured here is 13
cm long, from K 1031, and is dated by the Museum to the Classic Kerma Period, c 1700-1550 BCE. Both
were excavated by the Harvard University-Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition and are reproduced
here by the kind permission of the Museum.
See also eMery 1961: 84 and Bonnet 1986. Items with the braided pattern were also found in burials with
Pan-Grave material at Rifeh (petrie 1907: 20 6061).
See for example the interesting mirror from Faras with face applied to front and back surfaces where disk
meets tang: Ashmolean 1912.224, Grifith 1921: 76, 103, pl. 14. The face has a cap of striated hair and
large lat eyes and lips, thus is not Hathor.
See MaLek 1999: 273, 36771, HiLL 2004: 716, and Mendoza 2004 for males from approximately Dynasty 6 into the Tuthmoside period. The Cairo numbers for two of the Tell Basta igures excavated by
Labib Habachi are JdE 86147 and /8. An unusual igure mentioned by Hill as female and of uncertain
date and function (2004: 10 n. 13) is from Garstangs tomb 385 at Abydos (1907 excavations; snape
1990: 231, 465, 619). The igure wears an echeloned wig, a kilt, and one strand of lentoid beads. Its left
arm is forward as if for a staff, while the right is pendant at the side with the hand holding what appears
to be an ankh. The chest is bony, and there are pierced ears. Hill gives the Cairo number 12/11/16/2 and
Snape, JdE 45372.
Ashmolean E.2208 from E 107, c. 9.5 cm h excluding the tang; garstang 1901: 7, 44, pl. 9.
Dated by style: eL-sawi 1979: 20, burial 22; 38, igs. 3536. The height given is 8.8 cm but the drawing
in the scale shows the igure to be c 16 cm h without tangs.
Louvre E 16267, 11 cm h, deLange 1987: 176f. There are also two nursing women: roMano 1992.
Philadelphia University Museum E.9306 from E 166-2, 17.1 h: garstang 1901: 30, 44, pl. 14.
Cleveland 1983.196: BerMan 1999: no. 235. Derriks understood the base to be modern (2001a: no. 39), but
it is certainly not. I thank Drs. Michael Bennett and David Smart for assistance with examining this mirror
and making radiographs and photographs available in October 2005. The Museums photograph has this
credit line: Dynasty 18, 1540-1296 BC; bronze with black copper(?) inlay; 38.9 20 cm, The Cleveland,
Museum of Art, Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. 1983.196.
British Library Add.29851a f70, copyright The British Library, all rights reserved. See werBrouck and van
de waLLe 1929: pl. opposite p. 9. Hay made notations of black, yellow, and brown for the kohl tube and
stick, and wrote all y[ellow] highly varnished on the mirrors disk. That the mirror was meant to be












understood as a mirror on a stand is indicated by the frontal pose of the females feet pointing outward
and the similarity of her base to that for the kohl tube.
derriks 2001a: nos. 59, 63, 74, perhaps also nos. 12, 30, 78, 81. See however the nude children of Inherkha: they wear jewelry and hold birds (Bruyre 1933: pl. 17) but their hairstyle is often used for foreigners
(davies 1917: 239).
University Museum 10349a and b, c 29 cm h: Randall-MacIver and Woolley 1911: 131, 149f., 225, pl. 64.
Each igure had a tenon at top and bottom, a back pillar, palm fronds rising above a boucl wig, jewelry, and
Bes-tattoos. On each, both legs are bent, the left hand is open at the waist, the left foot is forward. Drawing
reproduced courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
A good example is Bologna 1859, aLdred 1961: nos. 166167. On the other hand, the function of a small
igure with a base and a loop on top of the head is puzzling, loc. cit. nos. 164165.
BM 32732, 14.3 h; the bottom of a disk and the tang itself are still preserved, the latter reaching practically
to the waist. I am grateful to Marcel Mare for asking the Department of Conservation, Documentation
and Science to examine and radiograph the object in 2005, and to its director David Saunders for allowing
me to cite sHearMan and siMpson 2006. My photograph is published courtesy of The British Museum.
Fay explores the complexities of identiication; igures with holes in their heads present a further challenge if they have not been found with a disk or lack traces of metal in the head. For a study of pre-New
Kingdom concubine igures from tomb contexts see tooLey 1991: 305368. She concludes that there are
four main types of such igures, each of which have at least two functions: as fertility talisman by virtue
of associations with Hathor, Thoueris, Bes, Isis and Horus the child; and as religious acrobat, dancer, and
musician, which may be better called members of the xnr.
Ashmolean 1890.936, 19 cm h, from Gourob group 4: petrie 1891: 1618, 36, pl. 18: 2762. I thank Helen
Whitehouse for the opportunity to study this igure and the igure vase cited in note 40.
Oriental Institute Museum 21694, wiLLiaMs 1992: 9799. Williams suggests a close association of the
feminiform mirror with C-group female clay igures with minimal heads, and follows Steindorff (1935:
11113, pl. 75) in identifying two wooden C-group objects as mirror handles. Note a pottery stand at Beni
Hassan that presents even fewer attributes to signal its female character (tooLey 1991: pl. 103).
Cleveland 1983.195, 32.3 cm h, tragically stolen in 1990 en route to an exhibition and still missing. The
Museums photograph has this credit line: Dynasty 18, 1540-1296 BC; bronze, The Cleveland, Museum
of Art, Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. 1983.195. Cleveland Museum of Art 1992: 16. The igure exudes power as
the hands push the umbel tips outward, the modeling is muscular and spare, the feet are planted square
on a small base, and the separately formed tail wraps around the right ankle.
dunHaM 1950: 57, pl. 62; dunHaM 1955: p. 155, pl. 91 and p. 249, pl. 92.
Centre franais de culture et de Coopration 2001: 19. See also a wooden kohl tube with nude female
wearing a loral headdress and holding a pot of unguent in one hand and a leash for a gazelle in the other:
MMA 00.4.37 from Abydos D33.
BerMan 1999: no. 235; see also troy 1986: 78f.
The text paraphrased from davies 1943: 60, pl. 63.
I take exception to the viewpoints of Diamantis Panagiotopoulos and Barry Kemp as put forward in Panagiotopoulos 2005:371, 412 n. 17: that foreigners visiting or living in Egypt left virtually no trace in the archaeological record, and over the entire pharaonic period (with the exception of the Second Intermediate Period),
the many foreign groups in the Nile Valley and Delta do not show up in the archaeological record.
Bolton 1924.31.60, 16.8 cm h, Qau 7260, see note 36. Author photos published courtesy Bolton Council.
Occasionally there is green residue in the hole in top of the head, but this could come from placing a disk
in the hole in modern times.


Reflections on Mirrors
35 Grave 755, houses and temple 1000, bone pit 894: Brunton 1948: 65, 67 119.
36 For bone pits 562 and 7260: Brunton 1927: 12, Brunton 1930: 18-20 4243.
37 Petrie Museum 26244, (
&accesscheck=%2Fdetail%2Fdetails%2Findex.php on 27 August 2006).
38 Moran 1992: 76 [EA 25, ii, 5659]. Gifts sent by Tushrattaa list 1 mirror of silver, 40 shekels in weight, its
handle a igure of a woman, of ivory, 1-3/4 shekels of silver have been overlaid on them and 1 mirror,
of silver; 40 shekels in weight, its handle a igure of a woman, of ebony, 1-3/4 shekels of silver have been
overlaid on them.
39 Concerning Kushite/Egyptian and /Assyrian contact, see recently kaHn 2004.
40 Ashmolean E2431: ayrton 1904: 49f. 84, pl. 16: 35. The photograph is reproduced courtesy of The
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
41 The Manchester Museum/The University of Manchester II c 259. I thank Christina Riggs for permission to
publish the photographs, and for supplying information.
42 The skull with its jaw are preserved in the Ashmolean Museum, along with the objects listed here.
43 See Late Bronze igure vases from Cyprus in karageorgHis 1993: 15f. For other types of Egypt-found
igure vases with non-Egyptian features see LiLyquist 2005: 64f.
44 I am grateful to Stephen Quirke for help in analyzing the register (petrie and Brunton 1924: pl. 37) with
the tomb card and notebook record as published in Petrie Museum n.d.
45 It is not clear whether there was more than one ring vase with attached vessels found at this site. Hall
(naviLLe and HaLL 1913: 2f.) uses the term kernos for bowls with attachments on the rim as well as for
ring vases with attachments, while pincH (1993: 317f.) discusses fragments of the two types at several sites
under one rubric.

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