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Creator Nationality: African; North African; Egyptian
Creator Name-CRT: Egyptian
Title: Comb
Title Type: Object name
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: -329
Creation End Date: -320
Creation Date: ca. 3200 B.C.E.
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Combs
Materials and Techniques: ivory
Dimensions: H. 2 1/4 in. (5.7 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 30.8.224
Credit Line: Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915

Finely carved ivory combs and knife handles produced towards the end of Egypt's prehistory demonstrate the high standards Egyptian artists had achieved, even before the Old Kingdom. This comb may have been part of the funeral equipment of an elite person who lived about 5,200 years ago. Parts of the comb's teeth, now missing, can be seen along the bottom edge. The detailed decoration suggests that it was a ceremonial object, not just an instrument for arranging the hair. On both sides are figures of animals in horizontal rows, a spatial organization familiar from later Egyptian art. The animals include Elephants and snakes; wading birds and a giraffe; hyenas; cattle; and perhaps boars, similar arrangements of these creatures on other carved ivory implements suggest that the arrangement and choice of animals were not haphazard. Elephants treading on snakes suggest that this part of the scene was symbolic. The mythologies of many African peoples associate elephants and serpents with the creation of the universe. The uppermost row of this comb may symbolize a creative deity to whom the rest of the animals owe their existence.

AMICA ID: MMA_.30.8.224
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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