Art/ Collection/ Art Object
{{img.publicCaption}}

Nursing woman

Period:
Old Kingdom
Dynasty:
Dynasty 5
Reign:
reign of Niuserre or later
Date:
ca. 2420–2389 B.C. or later
Geography:
From Egypt; Probably from Memphite Region, Giza, Tomb of Nikauinpu
Medium:
Limestone, paint traces
Dimensions:
h. 10.5 cm (4 1/8 in)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926
Accession Number:
26.7.1405
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 103
This woman sits on the ground with one knee raised. Against the hammock of cloth formed by her skirt stretched over her knee she holds a child whose yellow skin indicates she is a girl. With one hand the woman holds the child's head, while with the other she offers her breast to the child. The child's head is tilted back, either to gaze at the woman as nursing children may do, or perhaps in frustration as she cannot reach the breast. Behind the woman a red-painted and therefore male child kneels and pulls her second breast beneath her arm so that he can nurse, too.

Among Old Kingdom serving statuettes, women with chldren are a non-standard subject; indeed this is the only example depicting nursing. Serving women with children are seen more often in reliefs: in one tomb a child clings to his mother's back while she grinds grain, and nearby another woman nurses a chlld while she tends baking bread. The fact that the woman in the statuette here wears a white kerchief as do so many of the women in food preparation tasks, presumably to keep flour and such from their hair, may imply that this woman was involved in such tasks when she takes a moment to care for the children.
Formerly Carnarvon Collection, purchased in Cairo from Nicolas Tano probably about 1920. Carnarvon Collection purchased by the Museum from Lady Carnarvon, 1926.

Arnold, Dorothea and Emilia Cortes 2010. "Updating Winlock: An Appendix of Recent Scholarship." In Tutankhamun's Funeral, edited by Herbert E. Winlock and Dorothea Arnold. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 70, fig. 70.

Related Objects

Figurine of a Seated Woman

Date: ca. 3450–3300 B.C. Medium: Limestone, organic material, paint, malachite Accession: 07.228.71 On view in:Gallery 101

The Royal Acquaintances Memi and Sabu

Date: ca. 2575–2465 B.C. Medium: Limestone, paint Accession: 48.111 On view in:Gallery 103

Nikare with his Wife and Daughter

Date: ca. 2420–2389 B.C. or later Medium: Limestone, paint Accession: 52.19 On view in:Gallery 103

Statue of Kneeling Captive

Date: ca. 2246–2152 B.C. Medium: Limestone, paint Accession: 47.2 On view in:Gallery 103

King Sahure and a Nome God

Date: ca. 2458–2446 B.C. Medium: Gneiss Accession: 18.2.4 On view in:Gallery 103