This wine bowl featuring a female lute player is a rare specimen made of deep blue glazed faience. Dishes like these forma separate, remarkable category within Egyptian ceramic art. A characteristic feature of faience is that the picture is applied before the object is fired. In this case the picture is that of a girl with a lute. She is sitting on a pillow, in a bower overgrown with vines. Her head is covered with a sumptuous wig topped with a cone of perfumed ointment and a lotus flower.
It is a lively representation featuring numerous details possessing an erotic significance. On the girl’s right thigh we find a tattoo of the dwarf god Bes. Bes is patron god of music, dance, eroticism and sexuality.Moreover, his animal companion, a little monkey, is busy divesting the girl of her girdle, the only item of clothing she is wearing. All this taken together, we are probably dealing with a courtesan here.
The little bowl is a typical wine dish, but was probably never used as such. It is too well-preserved for that. It seems to have been manufactured specially to form part of someone’s tomb inventory. According to most recent insights the dish should date back to the transition from the 18th to the 19th Dynasty, around 1300 B.C.