Paddle Doll

“Paddle dolls” got their nickname from their likeness to modern Ping-Pong paddles. They all include exaggerated images of female genitalia. Some are painted with crude representations of couples having sexual intercourse, while others have pictures of birth-gods. The motif of birth and reproduction shows that “paddle dolls” increased fertility for both the living and, most likely, the deceased.

Paddle Doll
Paddle Doll. Dimensions: 8 x 2 1/16 in. (20.3 x 5.2 cm)
Brooklyn Museum. 16.84

Painted wooden doll with hair of mud beads. The doll is of the traditional Middle Kingdom type, with square shoulders and a circular base. The embellishments on the front are red and black, with a huge triangle motif painted at the bottom. The back features a little demon-like creature painted in vivid crimson. The hair is mostly made of little tubular mud beads, but there are also a few small bright blue faïence beads. These type of figures are pretty common place, and are often associated with servant figurines (ushabti or other) and even representations of concubines to be placed in tombs.


Wooden “Paddle doll” with hair of mud beads
Middle Kingdom, 11th – Early 13th Dynasty, c. 2008–1630 B.C.
From Sheikh Abd el-Qurna
Now at the Brooklyn Museum, New York City. 16.84