Ebony spoon in the shape of a stylized bouquet

British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

A range of extremely attractive implements that resemble spoons has come down to us from the New Kingdom (1550-1070 BC). It has been suggested that the spoons were used for holding cosmetics. However, examination of the bowl does not usually show any evidence of it having been used for this purpose.For many years these objects were treated simply as elaborate decorative spoons, but in the later part of the twentieth century a religious significance was proposed. The 'spoons' are frequently composed of a number of elements that, when put together, can be interpreted as representing rebirth or other motifs associated with the Afterlife. Some decorative elements can also be associated with Hathor and others, such as the stylized flowers in this example, may have functioned as symbolic bouquets.Bouquets are sometimes seen in tomb decoration being presented to the tomb owner and his wife as a symbol of rebirth. The bouquet that decorates this spoon is composed of lotus flowers. The lotus is associated with creation and the sun - in one Egyptian creation myth the sun-god Re emerges as a lotus flower. The stylized bouquet seen here may have had much the same function as those depicted in tomb paintings and would have been a potent ritual object to take into the tomb.

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  • Title: Ebony spoon in the shape of a stylized bouquet
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 31.00cm; Depth: 7.00cm; Width: 1.50cm; Weight: 58.00g
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted; stained
  • Registration number: .5965
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Memphis
  • Period/culture: New Kingdom
  • Material: wood; ivory
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Salt, Henry. Purchased through Sotheby's