Egyptian Antiquities :
Late Dynastic Period : Egyptian polychrome wooden mask
Egyptian polychrome wooden mask - FF.086
10" (25.4cm) high
x 8.8" (22.4cm) wide
Collection: Egyptian Antiquities
Additional Information: Korea
Location: Great Britain
In ancient Egypt, masks were primarily used for
funerary purposes as death masks.
Ancient Egyptians believed that it was extremely
important to preserve the body of a dead person
because the soul must have a place where to
dwell upon death. Preservation of the dead body
was achieved by mummification but it was also
considered equally important for the soul to be
able to recognize the body, so it can return to it.
For such reason death masks were abundantly
used, made in the likeness of the deceased.
Early masks were made from wood, followed by
masks in cartonnage, a material made from
papyrus or linen and soaked in plaster and then
molded on a wooden mold, a cheap variant
intended for lower class. Royal death masks were
made from precious metals, mostly gold or gold
leaves on bronze.
All death masks were made to resemble the
deceased but with slightly enlarged eyes and a
faint smile. They also showed the fashion of the
moment with painted jewellery and makeup.
These death masks later evolved into full-body
coffins in the human shape, preserving the same
decorations and ornaments.
Extracted from the lid of an anthropomorphic
coffin and finely sculpted, this perfectly modeled
naturalistic and very expressive face was
originally framed by a smooth wig, the lappets of
which are not preserved. The broad mouth with
full lips is pursed into a faint smile with indented
corners, the slender nose is well-defined,
especially on the outer edges of the nostrils, the
eyes are almond-shaped with large, dark irises.
The reddish preserved stucco reveals that the
person depicted is a male.