Statuette of a Hippopotamus

Egyptian faience statuette of a hippopotamus decorated with lily plants, symbolic of regeneration in the hereafter. These statuettes were popular grave goods that were placed close to the mummy in the coffin.

Plants and animals characteristic of the marshes where the hippo lived are depicted on its body. The king’s ritual hippopotamus hunt symbolized his victory over the forces of chaos with which the animal had been associated since primeval times.

Statuette of a Hippopotamus
Statuette of a Hippopotamus

In ancient Egypt, faience Hippopotamus statuettes held significant symbolism. These statuettes, commonly known as “hippopotamus figurines,” were crafted from faience, a type of ceramic material. The symbolism associated with these figurines is primarily linked to the protective and apotropaic (warding off evil) qualities attributed to the hippopotamus in Egyptian culture.

The hippopotamus was considered a dangerous and unpredictable creature due to its aggressive nature and its association with the Nile River, which was vital for agriculture and daily life in ancient Egypt.

As a result, the ancient Egyptians believed that wearing or possessing hippopotamus figurines made from faience would provide protection against malevolent forces, particularly in the realm of childbirth and fertility.

Statuette of a Hippopotamus
Statuette of a Hippopotamus

These statuettes were often placed in tombs, specifically in the context of protecting the deceased in the afterlife. They were also commonly found in households, where they were believed to safeguard the family and their possessions from harm.

The faience Hippopotamus statuettes in ancient Egypt thus served as powerful amulets, symbolizing protection, fertility, and the ability to ward off evil spirits. Their presence in various contexts highlights the importance of these beliefs in Egyptian society and their desire for protection and well-being.

Middle Kingdom, 11th to 12th Dynasty, around ca. 2000 BC. Dimensions: H 10,5 cm, L 20,7 cm, B 7,5 cm, G 1138 g. Made of Egyptian faience, greenish-blue glaze. Now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. INV 4211

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