Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Palette Depicting a Pair of Mud Turtles

Predynastic, early Naqada II
ca. 3650–3500 B.C.
From Egypt
H. 15.3 x W. 16 x Th. 0.6 cm (6 x 6 5/16 x 1/4 in.)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1910
Accession Number:
Not on view
The large mud turtle, Trionyx triunguis, which inhabited the Nile River and its canals, is the subject of many palettes and this one is quite unusual in depicting a pair. The duo may represent a mating pair linking the palette’s imagery to the concept of fertility and therefore regeneration. In the Pharaonic Period, the turtle had a dual reputation, on one hand the animal was connected to chaos and disorder, and on the other, it could be a potent amulet when the turtle’s negative character was used as a protective force. Given the turtle is the subject of an implement for manufacturing pigment for eye paint, a protective interpretation seems fitting.
Purchased by the Museum from Mohammed Mohassib, Luxor, 1910.

Fay, Biri 1998. "Egyptian Duck Flasks of Blue Anhydrite." In Metropolitan Museum Journal, 33, p.23; p. 24, fig. 3.

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