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 nose and pursed lips in slight relief. The eyes and eyebrows drawn with faint traces of the applied ink.  Pierced ears to bear small earrings.

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

Drilled holes at the shoulder level to thread through a piece of string to attach separate arms. The preserved arm with notched arm bend and detailed hand.

Commonly referred as 'Coptic dolls', these figurines 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.

Lower body missing, otherwise nice example with yellow staining. Craze along the front.

H. 9.7 cm (3.8 in)
H. with arm 12.6 cm (5 in)

Ex Royal Athena Galleries, New York, sold as part of a group of Egyptian bone objects in 2014.

580 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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