Cowrie Shell Girdle of Sithathoryunet

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

About the work

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This cowrie shell girdle belonged to the princess Sithathoryunet, believed to be the daughter of Senwosret, a Dynasty 12 ruler. His burial pyramid at El-Lahun was excavated in the early 1900s, and Sithathoryunet’s tomb was found beside it, filled with elaborate jewelry and beauty products.Oppenheim, Adela. “Egypt in the Middle Kingdom (Ca. 2030–1650 B.C.).” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Feb. 2019, Cowrie shells are a symbol of fertility and these shells were filled with beads and likely used in dance. The small beads were designed to represent the seeds of an acacia tree, regarded as the Tree of Life. This ornament has appeared in depictions of feminine Egyptian figures associated with fertility over time.

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