Religious Object ('Paddle Doll')



A female figure made from a single paddle-shaped piece of wood, with a separate wig composed of tightly coiled linen fibres, usually called "string". Marked on the front are two nipples and trace of a broad collar of beads in dark pigment. May once have had arms, now broken off. Paddle dolls such as this one are similar to fertility figurines but date mainly to the 11th Dynasty and the Middle Kingdom. They have been found in burials of men, women and children, as well as in houses and temples. In daily life, these figurines may have been magical guarantors of fertility both to mothers and to children who had reached the age of puberty. As burial equipment, they represented the potential for rebirth and procreation, thus assuring continuity and immortality in the afterlife for men and women. Marked on the back in black ink '511', although the object is not listed in the inventory for this tomb (maybe Institute of Archaeology collection no.?). It appears in the appendix of John Garstang’s ‘The Burial Customs of Ancient Egypt’ (1907) as being from tomb no. 09 “wooden doll with string hair”. Stuck to the surface on the back is a small label with the printed number 345, the accession number of the Institute of Archaeology.