Polychrome wood mummy mask, wearing a broad beaded collar and striped tripartite wig surmounted by a scarab. The brownish-red face with black eyebrows and cosmetic lines. Two plank reverse construction, with gesso covered linen surface, polychrome painted.
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.
Mostly stable surface cracks with some areas of small losses.
H: 51cm (20 inch)
Sothebys, NYC, Sale 5788, lot 341, Dec. 2nd, 1988.
For additional information please contact S.A. Gallery.