Object Study: A Wooden Mirror in the British Museum

Wooden toy-mirror painted yellow, black and white. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 ©Trustees of the British Museum.

The next task was to undertake an object study of an item in the British Museum that may be considered a child’s toy. 

3. EA26336 1890,0530.1
Dimensions: (LxWxH): 27.3cm x 16.1cm x 2.76cm.
Site: Thebes.
Context: Not known; purchased by Rev. Greville Chester in 1890.
Date: Archaic.
Material: Wood.
Description: The only image available for this object is of a line drawing of the mirror. It is described as a toy/mirror, and this is likely due to the material, as wood is a cheaper material and isn’t reflective. This could mean that it had another purpose, as a tool for children to with and to apply their own make up with using the parents more delicate metal mirror, O’Neill (2011) suggests that mirrors were also used as make up palettes, suggesting a learning through play aspect with a less destructible material. Some items categorised as toys might be smaller versions to practise with; but modern toys are often smaller versions of adult equipment often used to inspire children to learn (e.g. doctor’s sets, building bricks and make up kits). Perhaps this is the case with this wooden mirror.
Parallels: The form is common for mirrors of Egypt, and it is known that mirrors do use wood as the handle such as this example from the Manchester Museum. But I have struggled to find any other examples of wooden mirrors


O’Neill, B. (2011). Reflections of Eternity: An overview on Egyptian
mirrors from Prehistory to the New Kingdom. Egyptological Magazine.

Websites used



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