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Plaque with Sphinx and Duck
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Plaque with Sphinx and Duck

Description Provenance Credit
Description This steatite amulet is incised with sunk relief designs on both the front and back. The carvings on the front depict a sphinx, while those on the back show a duck. The figures fill most of the image field, and empty spaces above the backs display floral elements. Hatch and crossed line patterns define the inner structures. The workmanship is slightly rough and the piece is simply made. This amulet had divine kingship connotations, and was originally mounted or threaded. It could be a rotating element of a ring with two different focuses: It should ensure magical protection as well as regeneration for its owner. The representation of a duck with head bent back is typical for the early 18th Dynasty, and double-sided decorated oval plaques for the reign of Thutmosis III (1479-1425 BC)-Amenophis III (1388-1351/1350 BC). However, this plaque belongs not to the standard types. Most of the duck representations are scaraboids, and not incised figures on a plaque, and the figure of the jumping/running hawk-headed sphinx is very unusual, as are the attached elements. The only comparison to the jumping/running posture one can find is in images of running lions.
Provenance Henry Walters, New York [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Sadie Jones (Mrs. Henry Walters), New York, 1931, by inheritance; Mrs. Henry Walters Sale, Joseph Brummer, New York, 1942; Walters Art Museum, 1942, by purchase.
Credit Museum purchase [formerly part of the Walters Collection], 1942

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1550-1390 BCE (New Kingdom; Thumoside)
light brown steatite
(Precious Stones & Gems)
Accession Number
H: 3/16 x W: 1/2 x L: 5/8 in. (0.4 x 1.2 x 1.6 cm)
  • Palestine (Place of Origin)
  • Egypt (Place of Origin)
  • Syria (Place of Origin)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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