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Lioness Game Piece
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Lioness Game Piece

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description Ivory was used, from predynastic times forward, to create luxurious practical objects such as combs, hair pins, amulets, spoons, and knife handles (Drenkhahn 1986). Around 3000-2900 BCE, a distinctive class of ivory objects--gaming pieces in the form of animals--emerged. These small statuettes represent recumbent lions (both male and female) and hounds. The broad collar and absence of a mane indicate that the subject of the piece illustrated here is a female lion; the rectangular pectoral on the figure's breast is the result of modern recarving, and the high polish was not original to the figure. Such a figurine was probably used in the game of "Mehen" ("coiled one"), played on a round board in the form of a coiled serpent with a trapeziodal projection. The game was popular until the end of the Old Kingdom.
Date Description Narrative
11/16/1982Treatmentcleaned; examined for condition
  • Ivory: The Sumptuous Art. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1983-1984.
Provenance Arthur Sambon, Paris [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1926 [mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1926

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ca. 2850 BCE (Early Dynastic Period, late 1st-2nd dynasty)
hippopotamus ivory
(Ivory & Bone)
Accession Number
1 1/8 x 2 1/16 x 15/16 in. (2.9 x 5.24 x 2.35 cm)

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