Elephant-shaped palette. Predynastic period, IV Mill. B. C.

In Egyptology a palette is a flat stone plate used for grinding dry cosmetic paints for eyes. In Ancient
Egypt eye paint had both practical and magical properties – it not only made the eyes more attractive, but
also was believed to protect them from evil forces and eye diseases that were widely spread in Egypt due
to wind, dust, bright sunlight, and insects.
The collection of the State Museum of Fine Arts features palettes shaped as a fish, a bird (falcon), a turtle,
an elephant, a boat, and a shield all created in the silhouette technique. The internal details are poorly
developed or are laconically drafted with carved lines (as, for example, in the fish-shaped palette). Eyes
are often encrusted with shells or bone. Some palettes had a hole for hanging.