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Ram in the Thicket [Object of the Day #125]

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Statuette of a goat standing upright against the branches of a flowering plant. The goat has been identified as a markhor (Capra falconeri), a wild species native to the mountains of Central and South Asia, by its large corkscrew-shaped horns. The statuette is a quintessential example of early Mesopotamian (Sumerian) composite art, with its rich […]

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Bagobo Shield [Object of the Day #123]

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A dress shield, carried at festivals by Bagobo men of southern Mindanao, in the Philippines.  At the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904 men from the Bagobo village staged daily “shield dances” in which they carried shields like this one.  Among the visitors to the fair who saw the dances were two sisters […]

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Family Statue [Object of the Day #122]

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  Dating to the Middle Kingdom, this basalt statuette depicts a family group, with the mother (Sneferu) and father (Hetep-Sekhmet) on the left, and two son (Ankhu and Pepi) on the right. The left arm of each of the three males is placed across the chest, and each of the left hands grasps a bolt […]

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Food Dish [Object of the Day #121]

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Bowls of this unique, elegant form come from the islands of Wuvulu and Aua, in the Bismarck Archipelago (Papua New Guinea). The culture of these two islands is actually Micronesian rather than Melanesian, and the minimalist feel of these bowls is typical of the Micronesian aesthetic.  Although an early visitor reported seeing them used to […]

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Lime Container [Object of the Day #120]

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  Small wooden container used to carry powdered lime. In many parts of the world lime, chopped areca nut and betel leaf are combined and formed into a quid which is sucked and chewed as a mild stimulant.  The practice is called betel chewing. This lime container, with a lid carved in the form of […]

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Ceremonial Object [Object of the Day #115]

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Pearl shell disc with incised geometric patterns filled with red ochre. Such discs were worn by Australian Aboriginal men, suspended from belts, as pubic ornaments.  They were also highly valued objects of exchange, traded hundreds of miles into the interior of Australia from the northwest coast, where they were made.  The incised patterns are typical […]

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Forehead Ornament [Object of the Day #111]

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Chief’s forehead ornament from the Marquesas Islands, consisting of a headband of woven coconut fiber, with a large disk of pearl shell overlaid with a carved sheet of sea turtle shell.  The openwork carving includes six human faces and, at the top, two curved elements resembling the points of the large ceremonial fishhooks used to […]

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Mummy Mask [Object of the Day #109]

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This Egyptian funerary mask from the late Ptolemaic or Roman Period (after 300 BCE) has a gilded face to suggest that the deceased had joined the gods in the afterlife.  It meant that now, the owner had skin and bones of gold, just like the gods. On the headdress, alternating stripes of gold and blue […]

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Bone Awl [Object of the Day #107]

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This awl was made in Switzerland during the Neolithic Period. Both the awl and the haft are made entirely out of bone. The haft is perforated at the very end and decorated by small incised dots. Penn Museum Object #EU2615. See this and other objects like it on Penn Museum’s Online Collection Database

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Women’s Blouse [Object of the Day #104]

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This colorful blouse is part of a traditional women’s costume in the province of Bukidnon in  northern Mindanao (Philippine Islands).  It is made up of strips of dark blue and red cotton cloth, with appliqued and embroidered zigzag and chain designs in red, blue and white. It slips over the head, and is very short, […]

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