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Lotus-shaped Cup (Egypt)

This is a Lotus-shaped cup. It is dated ca. 1100 BC and we acquired it in 1960. Its medium is colored faience (ceramic frit). It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

The oldest object in the museum's collection, this vessel still shows its striking blue color, created by adding copper to its quartz-based medium. Both its color and form imitate the petals of the Egyptian lotus flower seen in black outline. A symbol of life, death, and rebirth in ancient Egyptian culture, the lotus opens its petals every morning as if being born. Each evening it closes, symbolizing death, followed by rebirth the next morning.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled A Toast to Life, Death, and Rebirth.

It is credited Museum purchase through gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt.

Our curators have highlighted 8 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

  • Tile (USA)
  • glazed earthenware.
  • Gift of Marcia and William Goodman.
  • 1983-88-13
  • Bowl (USA)
  • thrown and glazed earthenware.
  • 1991-142-5

Its dimensions are

H x diam.: 8 x 5 cm (3 1/8 x 1 15/16 in.)

Cite this object as

Lotus-shaped Cup (Egypt); colored faience (ceramic frit); H x diam.: 8 x 5 cm (3 1/8 x 1 15/16 in.); Museum purchase through gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt; 1960-29-1

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Making Design.

This image is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Lotus-shaped Cup (Egypt) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=21 March 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>