Art/ Collection/ Art Object


Third Intermediate Period
Dynasty 22
ca. 945–712 B.C.
From Egypt
h. 14 cm (5 1/2 in); diam. 9.3 cm (3 11/16 in)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1913
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 125
Chalices in the form of the blue lily were familiar items among burial equipment beginning in early Dynasty 18 (ca. 1500 B.C.). The flower's association with life and rebirth made it a potent symbol in ritual contexts of all kinds. In Dynasty 21, such chalices were adorned with elaborately detailed relief decoration. The principal scene on this example, in a band around the body of the cup, depicts three boats moving to viewer right on a narrow strip of water, all against a marshy background dominated by tall papyrus plants. In the stern of each boat is a female figure, who propels the craft by either pulling on a papyrus stem or using a pole. In the bow of the central boat is a calf; to the right of this, a man walks forward, holding a nest containing a chick. In front of him is a second boat, in this case with two plumed serpent deities in the bow. Behind the central boat is another man, this time carrying a large calf. Fluttering above the bow of the third boat, to the left of this man, is a bird. Above the main register is a narrow band filled with waterfowl and their nests, one of which shows an egg in the process of hatching. The base of the cup is decorated with four sepals and seven petals, enhacing the identification of the chalice with the lily. The stem and foot of the vessel are also adorned with additional plants.
Purchased from Nicolas Tano in Cairo, 1913.

Tait, G. A. D. 1963. "The Egyptian Relief Chalice." In Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 49, p. 104, pl. XIV.

Scott, Nora E. and Christine Lilyquist 1971. "Origin and Influence: Cultural Contacts: Egypt, the Ancient Near East, and the Classical World." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, new ser., vol. 29, no. 7 (March), pp. 318–19.

Lilyquist, Christine 2012. "Treasures from Tell Basta: Goddesses, Officials, and Artists in an International Age." In Metropolitan Museum Journal, 47, p. 45, n. 188.

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