Probably written and illustrated by a painter from the Dair-El-Medina
village, the papyrus is divided in two sections: the satiric one and the
It goes back to the XX Dynasty (1186-1069 BC) it has in the satiric part,
humanized animals, the comicality is based upon the overturn of the
the hawk tries to clib with a ladder, on a tree, where there is a hippopotamus;
a for presided by cats is attacked by mice guided by a leader-mouse. The
protagonist of the erotic part is a bearded man, with the peasants’ short
skirt, during the encounter with a courtesan, which is described with many
details and a surprising sense of humor.
Very famous, because one of its kind, it has always been kept in the Egyptian
Museum in Torino. Discovered in the first years of 1800 it amazed a lot,
giving an image of ancient Egypt, that loved life and pleasures. This papyrus
tells about a moment of royal life: the Egyptian woman is preparing herself
for an erotic encounter, adding various elements such as the wig, flowers in
her hair and putting on make-up.
The Egyptian woman's body was one of natural beauty and grace, never
aspiring to enhance in anyway such as anti-aging or breast
implants that so many women today feel the need to do.
The lotus flower on the head had a particular symbol: the one of beauty and of
desire. The jar on which she was sitting, probably held ointments for hair and
for intimate parts.
Jean-François Champollion who saw it in Torino, in 1824, commented in his
notes: “There were an image of monstrous obscenity that gave me a really
strange impression about Egyptian wisdom and composure…”.
Egypt was in that time very open, with a sane erotic sense, love songs and
lyrics, of course more refined, nevertheless had a sexual background and the
women of could inherit, divorce, the had guarantees and rights.