Faience Hedgehog Figurine
Blue-green faience hedgehog figurine with black spots on elliptical base, both left legs slightly advanced and modeled freely in the round. Back is scored in grid pattern and bumpy to simulate quills.
When food is scarce, hedgehogs retreat into underground dens for long periods, to re-emerge only in times of abundance. The Egyptians associated this behavior with rebirth and thus wore amulets in the form of hedgehogs or left figures such as this one in tombs.
Also, according to the Ebers Medical Papyrus of the early Eighteenth Dynasty, hedgehog spines, when ground up and mixed with fat or oil, cured baldness.
The Egyptians were impressed by this small mammal since the Predynastic Period because of its ability to live in extreme environmental conditions.
The hedgehog is mainly active at night, and is endowed with particularly acute eyesight; protected by its quills, the animal lives in semi-desert areas, bordering on inhospitable lands, considered to be places of death; it also hunts snakes and scorpions, whose poison it is able to resist.
Its nocturnal activity meant that it was associated with the nocturnal race of the sun before its rebirth, and it was therefore seen as triumphant over dangers and death and therefore a symbol of rebirth.
In ancient Egypt, animals were symbolic of human virtues. The frog symbolizes fertility and safe childbirth, while the monkey represents status and wealth. A hedgehog stands for resurrection.
Middle Kingdom. 12th to 13th Dynasty, ca. 1938-1700 BC. Made of Egyptian faience. Dimenstions: 1 5/8 x 1 5/8 x 2 13/16 in. (4.2 x 4.1 x 7.1 cm). From Deir el Nawahid. Now in the Brooklyn Museum. 65.2.1