Weekly Auctions of Exceptional Items
0 selections
Log In
0 selections
lots of lots
Lot 0002A
Ancient Egypt, New Kingdom / Third Intermediate Period, ca. 1550 to 712 BCE. A handsome steatite cosmetic dish in the form of a fish, a remarkably long-lived style of dish favored by the ancient Egyptians. The stone it is carved from is a beautiful mottled dark and light brown with a hint of red from iron content; thin, almost translucent ivory-colored bands pass across the face of the vessel. Unusually, this example has two dishes - a smaller one in the form of a Bolti fish (Nile tilapia), with the distinctive gills and lower fins of that species, and a larger in a more abstract fish-body or leaf-form. They are joined by a curved piece of stone that mirrors the incised form of the fish's fins. Size: 3.95" L x 5.55" W x 0.7" H (10 cm x 14.1 cm x 1.8 cm)

This type of vessel was used to hold cosmetics - the Egyptians are famous for the cosmetics worn by both men and women, like black kohl painted around the eyes. Fish were an important motif in ancient Egypt, and we even have evidence of mummified fish (you can see one in the Louvre!). The tilapia - known as the bolti fish or the nekhau - symbolized regeneration to the ancient Egyptians.

See an example made from a similar material at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/547764

Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-Dr. Sid Port collection, California, USA, acquired in the 1970s

All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all winning bids.

We ship worldwide to most countries and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.

#143609

Condition

Tip of larger dish has been repaired. A few tiny chips from the rim; otherwise in very good condition with a nice smooth surface and finely preserved carving.

Buyer's Premium

  • 24.5%

Egyptian Steatite Cosmetic Dish - Double Fish

Estimate $3,500 - $5,000Feb 21, 2019