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17 Wooden headrest

Egypt
Old Kingdom (2707-2170 BC)

Petrie identified this type of headrest as one of the earliest forms. This wooden headrest, of the so-called branching-type, is carved out of a single piece of wood and supported by curved legs ending in two bovine feet. The platform, where the head would have rested, is carved on top of the legs and is undercut at the sides; the upper section is slightly curved in form and has a curved surface plane. The continuous grain of the wood would suggest that the headrest was carved from a branch that was trained artificially when young into the required form and left to grow until used and shaped as a headrest.

For proper use, the legs of this headrest must have been partly buried in the sand. Headrests with two legs are found in Uganda, Kenya and Sudan in the first half of the twentieth century and later (see number 21).

Given by R.G. Gayer-Anderson
The Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, E.GA.2667.1943

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