About this object

Flat cosmetic dish with circular depression on one side, and underside carved in the form of a tilapia fish, with a baby fish held in the mouth. Eye, gill, fins and scales are incised in detail. Dorsal fin is chipped. Tilapia fish were symbols of fertility and rebirth. This is due to the spawning habits of these fish, who take up the newly laid eggs into their mouth until they are hatched. The appearance of the young fish from the mother’s mouth must have suggested self-propagation to the Egyptians and hence the association with rebirth.

Object specifics

  • Type
    Personal Object
  • Culture
    New Kingdom
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt
  • Date made
    1550 BC - 1295 BC (Dynasty 18) about
  • Materials
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, Ancient Egypt Gallery
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Joseph Mayer
  • Collector
    Joseph Mayer
  • Place collected
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt
  • Date collected
    19th Century
  • Measurements
    11 mm x 46 mm x 74 mm
  • Related people
    Joseph Mayer ( Collector, previous owner)


Previous owners

  • Joseph Mayer

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: 1867
    Disposal method: Donation
Object view = Humanities
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