Palette Depicting a Pair of Mud Turtles

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

About the work

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Makeup palettes are used to mix and grind materials into the desired pigments. In Ancient Egypt, palettes were made from polished stones. The natural minerals they used included malachite, red ochre, and kohl. Ground pigments were applied as eyeshadow, lipstick, blush, and eyeliner.In the Naqada periods, many everyday objects often took the form of animals native to the Nile Valley. This palette, dated to Naqada II, depicts a pair of mud turtles. Mud turtles represented both chaos and a potent protective force. If the turtles were mates, the palette would have invoked fecund properties in its user.

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