A statuette, possibly an amulet, of exceptionally high quality, made of green faience. Depicted is the goddess Taweret (Thoeris), who was usually shown as a female and pregnant hippopotamus with elements of a lion and a crocodile, all three dangerous to humans. Nevertheless the goddess was considered to be a protectress of women in childbirth.
Although her legs are now missing, she is probably shown in a striding position, her left (hind) leg forward. She is holding her human arms, slightly bent and ending in lion's paws, to the sides of her pregnant belly. She has pendulous breasts and is wearing a beautifully worked, striated tripartite wig which leaves her ears visible. Her teeth are bared in her half open mouth, and especially the tusks are clearly visible. A crocodile tail with fishbone design is covering the back below the suspension loop.
Whereas the male hippopotamus was the embodiment of evil, the female was benevolent, in spite of her fearsome teeth and the crocodile's tail shown on amulets. It is not known when Taweret became associated with childbirth; however, in the upright posture she assumes, her pendulous breasts and swollen stomach resemble those of a pregnant woman.
Another goddess in the shape of a hippopotamus was Ipet, who provided heat and light for the dead; the two goddesses are so similar that there is always a possibility that she is the deity actually represented; the same applies to this amulet (cf. Andrews 1994, p. 40).
Carol Andrews, Amulets of Ancient Egypt (London, British Museum Press, 1994), p. 10, 36, 40-41; fig. 31b-c, 39; Christian Herrmann - Thomas Staubli, 1001 Amulett - Altägyptischer Zauber, monotheisierte Talismane, säkulare Magie (Freiburg, Bibel + Orient Museum, 2010); Hermann Alexander Schlögl, Le don du Nil. Art égyptien dans les collections suisses. Archäologische Sammlung der Universität Zürich, Historisches Museum Bern, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Musée d'art et d'histoire, Genève. Une exposition du Séminaire d'Egyptologie de l'Université de Bâle: Musée d'art et d'histoire, Genève, du 16 décembre 1978 au 11 mars 1978 (Bâle, Société de Banque suisse, 1978), nos. 304-306.
Late Period, 26th dynasty, 664-525 B.C.
Height 8 cm.
German private collection, Hamburg, acquired from Roswitha Eberwein Antike Kunst, Göttingen, Germany, in October 2011; before that German private collection of Dr. Appel.
Legs missing as shown, else intact and of an incredibly high quality.