Egyptian bronze mirror
Period: Middle Kingdom, circa 1938-1758 B.C.
Material: Bronze and Calcite
Dimensions: Height: 30.3 cm
Price: CHF 67200
Ex-N. Koutoulakis Collection, Geneva-Paris; R. Bigler, Zurich
This is a beautiful example of an Egyptian mirror that also presents some interesting characteristics. The mirror is a well-known object from as far back as the Middle Kingdom with its round shape referring to the solar disc. The handles are generally Hathor-shaped or, like here, papyriform. Some think that the representation of the goddess Hathor (goddess of love, among others) confers an erotic value to this mirror. On the other hand, the papyriform column can be related to the hieroglyph’s meaning, i.e. ‘green’, as a reference to rebirth. Nevertheless, other connections can be brought out: the goddess Hathor herself refers to vegetation and to the papyrus stalk, elements that can be linked to rebirth of the deceased. Mirrors appeared in sarcophagi during the Middle Kingdom and were placed in the funeral trousseau for the afterlife. The handle is in calcite (Egyptian alabaster), which is surprising, because the most precious examples are usually in ivory; it may therefore not be the original handle, especially if this artifact was the possession of one of Sesostris’s royal daughters, as a fragmentary inscription in ink on the side of the disc would suggest. Only a few parallels are known from this period, and in a royal sphere, the only reference is the trousseau of one of Amenemhat III’s daughters, excavated by D. Arnold in the early ’80s. Still, this handle was finely crafted, as seen in the rendering of the capital. The whole piece may be compared to other examples and is certainly worthy of interest.
LILYQUIST C., Ancient Egyptian Mirrors from the Earliest Times through the Middle Kingdom, 1979, n. 31, 55.