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As blue is also the colour of water and hence the colour of the Nile and the primeval waters of chaos (known as Nun). As a result the colour blue was associated with fertility, rebirth and the power of creation. Blue glass or faience hippopotami were a popular symbols of the Nile and the creator god Amun was often depicted with a blue face. According to myth, the hair of the gods was made of precious Lapis Lazuli (khesbedj). A number of Pharaohs imitated the god and were depicted in art with blue faces or hair.
The seemingly benign appearance that this figurine presents is deceptive. To the ancient Egyptians, the hippopotamus was one of the most dangerous animals in their world. The huge creatures were a hazard for small fishing boats and other rivercraft. The beast might also be encountered on the waterways in the journey to the afterlife. As such, the hippopotamus was a force of nature that needed to be propitiated and controlled, both in this life and the next.
since its arrival at the Museum in 1917 the Egyptian faience sculpture has been a favorite with visitors, and for many years has been known as "William"—the Metropolitan's unofficial mascot. Like the original, our figurine is decorated with drawings of lotus blossoms and marsh plants which remind us of his favorite habitat, the shallow banks of the Nile River.
Glazed earthenware. 8''L x 3''W x 4 1/4''H.