An Egyptian Amethyst Hippopotamus Head Amulet, Middle Kingdom, ca. 2017 - 1730 BCE


$7,500 USD

Masterfully carved from bright amethyst, the hippopotamus head featuring a large snout, incised mouth, bulging eyes, and protruding ears at the back of the head, characteristically flat-backed and pierced through the side for attachment.

Hippopotamus amulets were worn to protect their wearers from the notoriously bad-tempered animals. Common inhabitants of the Nile, hippos were aggressive and very large, posing serious danger for those on the river. While protection was imperative, the hippopotamus was also linked with regeneration; it lived in the renewing waters of the Nile and was believed to roar noisily at dawn and dusk, thus linking itself with the sun's passage and the symbolism of death and rebirth.

Ref: Carol Andrews, Amulets of Ancient Egypt, London: British Museum Press (1994) p. 64.

For a similar example, see: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, accession number 10.130.2310

Dimensions: Length: 6 mm (0.24 inches)

Condition: Intact and in excellent condition overall.

Provenance:   Ronald Parct collection, New York, acquired Sotheby Parke Bernet, 3/20/1968, lot #52 (part).  Sold with a copy of the original invoice.