ostracon ancient art



Coptic Bone Doll Fragment, Early Islamic Egypt, 7th to 9th Century AD

Highly stylized female figure carved from a piece of bone.

The prominent head with two deep vertical incisions that delimit the sides of the nose and of the pursed lips. Swiftly incised horizontal lines to delineate the brow and the chin.

The eyes and other details may have been painted.

Deep incisions across the chest, marked lines around the waist.

Drilled holes to the sides of the breasts, to thread through a piece of string to attach separate arms.

Commonly referred as 'Coptic dolls', these figurines seem to appear suddenly in Egypt and Palestine, coinciding with the Arab conquest. They may have served as inexpensive toys, and were placed in graves and may have also served as votive gifts in the cult of local female deities.

For a related semi-naturalistic example, cf. UC59359 in the Petrie Museum database.

Mounted on an acrylic stand with a description underneath mentioning the Kunst- und Antiquitätenmesse Basel, active from 1964-2008.

Lower part missing, otherwise nice example with yellow staining.

H. 8.3 cm (3.3 in)
H. with stand 10.3 cm (4.1 in)

Sold at the Kunst- und Antiquitätenmesse Basel to Swiss private collection P.S.

420 USD

Click above for larger pictures --------

Literature: Ariel Shatil, "Bone Figurines of the Early Islamic Period: The So Called 'Coptic Dolls' from Palestine and Egypt", pp. 296-314 in: Selena Vitezović (ed.) Close to the Bone: Current Studies in Bone Technologies. Belgrade 2016.

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