Egyptian Beaded Funerary Mask


Late Period, c. 663-323 BC. Egyptian. Mummy mask made of restrung glazed faience beads. The face is highly stylised with a yellow nose and with green skin like Osiris, and this mask includes a pectoral element below the face with a winged scarab and the four sons of Horus. The face, scarab, and gods are made of tightly strung green, yellow, red, blue, and black beads, and these elements are connected by loosely strung ‘webs’ of longer blue beads. This would have been made to be placed on the face of a mummy, and had a simiar function to the earlier cartonnage and wooden masks. The face gave the body both idenitity and senses; regaining the senses was an important mission of the recently deceased, and many rituals and chapters in the Book of the Dead were devoted to this. Coffins and bodies from many periods of Egyptian history depicted eyes in some form to allow the body within to ‘see’, and here they are enlarged and exaggerated for this purpose. The skin is coloured green just like Osiris’, as the hope of the deceased was to merge with Osiris to gain the perfect afterlife. The scarab was a symbol of rebirth, stemming from the observation that the real life scarab beetle would build a dung ball, then disappear, before a baby scarab would emerge from the ball as if self-regenerating. The four sons of Horus are mostly associated with Canopic jars, their heads appear on the lids, and they are charged with protecting the body.

Size: L:255mm / W:15080mm ; 94g

Provenance: From an old British collection of Ancient Art formed in the 1990 on the UK and European art market.

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