Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Libation Dish Depicting Ka-Arms Presenting an Ankh-Sign

Period:
Early Dynastic Period
Dynasty:
Dynasty 1
Date:
ca. 3100–2900 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt
Medium:
Greywacke
Dimensions:
w. 14.5 x h. (depth) 3.5 x l. 17.6 cm (5 11/16 x 1 3/8 x 6 15/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1919
Accession Number:
19.2.16
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 101
This masterpiece of Early Dynastic stone carving has the shape of two intricately linked hieroglyphs. The two bent arms that frame three sides of the dish are read "ka," the word for "spirit" in ancient Egyptian. The loop and knot are read "ankh," meaning "life," or "to live." The combination could be interpreted as the phrase "life to thy spirit" or as the name of a person, Ankh-ka. The dish was undoubtedly used to pour a purifying liquid, probably water, that would take on the magical significance of the hieroglyphs.
#3230. Libation Dish Depicting Ka-Arms Presenting an Ankh-Sign
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For Audio Guide tours and information, visit metmuseum.org/audioguide.
Purchased in Cairo from Maurice Nahman, 1919.

Hayes, William C. 1953. Scepter of Egypt I: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Part I: From the Earliest Times to the End of the Middle Kingdom. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 42-43, fig. 31.

Patch, Diana Craig 2011. "From Land to Landscape." In Dawn of Egyptian Art, edited by Diana Craig Patch. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 80.

Patch, Diana Craig 2011. "Early Dynastic Art." In Dawn of Egyptian Art, edited by Diana Craig Patch. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 169, 179, n. 124.

Silverman, David P. 2011. "Text and Image and the Origin of Writing in Ancient Egypt." In Dawn of Egyptian Art, edited by Diana Craig Patch. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 207, 209, no. 182.

Allen, Susan J. 2011. "Works in the Exhibition." In Dawn of Egyptian Art, edited by Diana Craig Patch. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 262, no. 182.

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