Hedgehog Cosmetic Pot



Hedgehog Cosmetic Pot


vessel, container


664-180 BC


Late Period, Dynasty 26 - early Ptolemaic Period


2 x 2 1/2 x 1 1/4 in. (5.1 x 6.4 x 3.2 cm)

Object Number



This small faience vessel in the shape of a hedgehog was most likely a perfume or cosmetic vessel. Texts and images tell us that both men and women wore eye makeup and applied perfume. Perfume was associated with the divine in ancient Egypt and the presence of a deity is sometimes signaled by a sweet smell in Egyptian texts. This charming vessel is one of many in different shapes and sizes representing the hedgehog, a creature that lived in the deserts of Egypt. Hedgehogs were eaten in ancient Egypt but it seems they may have had a greater significance as their images are often included in Old Kingdom tomb scenes. Some small sculptures are found in the Middle Kingdom, and their form is exploited in the New Kingdom for cosmetic vessels, pottery, and jewelry. It has been suggested that the hedgehog has an apotropaic character because of its ability to curl up in a ball and protect the vulnerable parts of its body when danger approached. Also, due to their sharp needles, hedgehogs were largely immune to the bites of venomous creatures such as snakes or scorpions. While this vessel may draw on the aforementioned associations of the creature it is also likely that the Egyptians simply enjoyed the decorative possibilities of the hedgehog form and therefore incorporated it into their vessel design.

Credit Line

Gift of Mohamed Farid Khamis and Oriental Weavers


From Pharaohs to Emperors: New Egyptian and Classical Antiquities at Emory, Michael C. Carlos Museum, January 14 - April 2, 2006|
MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, 2008 - Present
Mark A. Brandes, Vom Euphrat zum Nil: Kunst aus dem alten Aegypten und Vorderasien (Bern: Die Gesellschaft, 1985), 55, figure 28.|
Pharaoh's Creatures: Animals from Ancient Egypt (London: Rupert Wace Ancient Art Ltd., 2004), number 70.


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2006.
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On View



“Hedgehog Cosmetic Pot,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed July 11, 2020, http://carlos.digitalscholarship.emory.edu/items/show/7801.

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