The Duck Vase

Vase in the Shape of a Duck, 300-200 BC, Faience with Polychrome Glaze,    8.5 x 18 x 7.9 Centimeters, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Egyptian faience is a composite material composed of ground quartz and natron (sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate). Most faience is glazed in a vivid blue or green color; the polychrome faience seen here is much more complicated to produce.

The duck was mold-made together with the remains of its ring handle on the bird’s left side. The surface of the body displays a raised dot pattern, while the end of the wings have a feather pattern. The form may have been inspired by the red-figure duck vases of Etruria and south Italy. The duck is depicted with such detailed naturalism that the underside even has delicately modeled webbed feet.

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