"a child someone had put in a bulrush basket"

First reference to Tereza as having come to Tomas as an unforeseen and almost accidental gift, like the infant Moses discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter in the Bible (Exodus1-2). Moses was laid in an ark of bulrushes, a paper reed made from a tall sedge. This marshland plant grows commonly along the Nile, and its thick buoyant stems can be tied together to make a small boat.

This 1638 oil painting of “Baby Moses rescued from the Nile” is by the French painter Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), the founder and greatest practitioner of 17th century French classical painting.

The narrator of Unbearable Lightness mentions the simile again on the next page, and refers to Pharoah’s daughter and Moses by name 3 or 4 pages later, in section 4 of Part One.