Carved wood mummy mask with angular features, the ears, eyes and mouth painted in black over a pink ground. A few traces of polychrome ornament on the wig.
Masks were a very important aspect of Ancient Egyptian burials. Together with the anthropoid coffin they provided the dead with a face in the afterlife. In addition they also enabled the spirit to recognize the body.
Mummy masks had more than one purpose. They were a part of the elaborate precautions taken by the ancient Egyptians to preserve the body after death. The protection of the head was of primary concern during this process. Thus, a face covering helped preserve the head, as well as providing a permanent substitute, in an idealized form presenting the deceased in the likeness of an immortal being. Specific features of a mask, including the eyes, eyebrows, forehead and other features, were directly identified with individual divinities, as explained in the Book of the Dead, Spell 151b. This allowed the deceased to arrive safely in the hereafter, and gain acceptance among the other divine immortals in the council of the great god of the dead, Osiris. Though such masks were initially made for only the royalty, later such masks were manufactured for the elite class for both males and females.
The masks of both men and women had over-exaggerated eyes and often enigmatic half smiles. These objects were then framed by long, narrow, tripartite wigs held securely by a decorated headband.
Normal stable age splits and some minor losses. Black lucite plaque mount.
H: 22 cm (8-3/4inch)
Ex. Sothebys, NYC, sale 5788, lot 342, Dec. 2nd, 1988.