Birth Tusk



So-called "birth tusk" also known as a "wand", shaped like a boomerang. Carved from hippopotamus tooth ivory and incised on one side with seven carefully executed images of deities that may have protected mother and child. The procession begins at one end with a jackal’s head followed by the figure of a feline, holding a knife in its forepaw, with the rest of the body now missing. Behind the cat there is a gap with only the tail of a figure preserved. Then comes a hippopotamus walking on hind legs armed with a knife and holding a sa (‘protection’) hieroglyph. Then a lion walking on hind legs armed with a knife. The middle of the tusk is occupied by a long-necked creature walking on all four legs, also armed with a knife, with the hieroglyph for fire displayed above its back. Behind a turtle is with a griffin-like creature with a head emerging from between the wings. This is followed by feline with markings, walking on its back legs and holding a knife in its front paws.The procession is closed by a lion’s head (or mask?) shown frontally. Unfortunately the object is one of many left on display in the Second World War and destroyed by a fire on 3 May 1941. The tusk was in five pieces mended together with a small piece near the tip being missing, and having been replaced by plaster. Sold to Joseph Mayer in 1850 by Joseph Sams and said to be collected in Thebes.