Art/ Collection/ Art Object

A Tusk Figurine of a Man

Predynastic, Late Naqada l– Early Naqada II
ca. 3900–3500 B.C.
From Egypt
Ivory (hippopotamus), organic material
h. 22.4 cm (8 13/16 in); w. 3 cm (13/16 in); d. 3.2 cm (1 1/4 in)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1923
Accession Number:
Not on view
Tusk figures belong to a group of abbreviated figurines made in the Predynastic Period. Such figurines emphasize only facial features and sexuality, while eliminating or schematizing limbs. Tusk figurines exploit a natural form –the tusk of a hippo– creating a male figure that radiates sexuality. This figurine is a superbly finished version of the type with the tusk’s tip carved into ring and a face and shoulders fashioned below. Although the eyes are only indicated by incised outlines with dots for pupils, the nose and mouth are well modeled.
Formerly collection of the Rev. Randolph Humphrey Berens (d. 1922). Berens Collection sold at Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, London [June-July 1923]; purchased at this sale by Howard Carter and sold to the Museum, 1923.

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: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 20.

Patch, Diana Craig 2011. "The Human Figure." In Dawn of Egyptian Art, edited by Diana Craig Patch. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 103, 132–33, no. 111.

Allen, Susan J. 2011. "Works in the Exhibition." In Dawn of Egyptian Art, edited by Diana Craig Patch. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 254, no. 111.

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