Ivory inlay of Taweret
about 1700–1550 B.C.
Findspot: Nubia (Sudan), Kerma, K307
Height x width x depth: 8.6 x 4.5 x 0.3 cm (3 3/8 x 1 3/4 x 1/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
This ivory inlay, which would once have belonged to a wooden fixture such as a funerary bed, depicts the goddess Taweret, facing right and holding a knife in front of her, wearing a slightly flaring skirt with pleats. Irregularly incised lines and notches add detail to a somewhat schematic outline to indicate the mouth, paw, and one exaggerated and pendulous breast, and both pleats and tie of the skirt. The arm is broken and mended. The front portion of the mouth/snout is missing, likely originally having extended to the knife.
Taweret (literally: “the great one”) was an especially popular goddess in the domestic sphere throughout pharaonic times. She was conceived as having the body and head of a pregnant hippo, paws of a lion, and back/tail of a crocodile. She was considered a protective deity especially for expecting and birthing mothers as well as young children. Her images appear on many household fixtures such as beds, chairs, and headrests, all of which can also be found as funerary items. She became known outside of Egypt as well, appearing in Nubia (as with this object) and Crete.
From Kerma, tomb K307. December 1913: excavated by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA in the division of finds by the government of Sudan.
(Accession Date: March 1, 1920)
Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition