Egypt, Late Dynastic Period, 26th to 31st Dynasty, ca. 664 to 332 BCE. A striking example of a sarcophagus mask, hand-carved from wheat-hued cedar, with painted details in white, red, and black hues that emphasize the remarkably human countenance. The expressive female visage is defined by huge almond-shaped eyes with elongated corners beneath thin brows, a prominent nose of naturalistic form with delineated nostrils, lightly-rounded cheeks, pouty lips with indented corners, and cupped ears, all set within the folds of the black-painted tripartite wig. The face is painted with pale-yellow pigment which accentuates the white eyes, black pupils and brows, and red lips, and a slender strip of red delineates the forehead from the wig. A few large dowel holes along the verso still contain remnants of the original dowels used to attach the mask to a larger sarcophagus. Custom museum-quality display stand included. Size: 12.5" W x 13.375" H (31.8 cm x 34 cm); 15.375" H (39.1 cm) on included custom stand.
Ancient Egyptians believed it was of the utmost importance to preserve a body of the deceased, because the soul needed a place to reside after the death. Preservation of the body was done via mummification - a process involving the removal of internal organs that were placed in canopic jars, wrapping body in linen, and then embalming. Death masks like this example were created so that the soul could recognize the body and return to it. For this reason, death masks were made in the relative likeness of the deceased.
This mask and others like it were traditionally carved from cedar. Interestingly, cedar wood was not native to Egypt. Egypt did not have verdant forests filled with tall trees, and unfortunately most of its native lumber was of relatively poor quality. Thus, they relied on importing to acquire hardwoods - ebony imported from Africa, cedar and pine from Lebanon. One fabulous obelisk inscription by Thutmose III attests to the luxury of treasured hardwoods. It reads as follows, "They brought to me the choicest products . . . consisting of cedar, juniper and of meru wood . . . all the good sweet woods of God's Land." The rarity of cedar meant that masks like this one were reserved for those who could afford them.
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-private Goldberg estate collection; ex-private Simonian collection, California, USA, collected in the 1960s and acquired by previous owner via descent
All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.
A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all winning bids.
We ship worldwide to most countries and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
Restoration to verso of wig flaps, small repair to bottom of verso, with overpainting along break lines as well as across face and wig. Minor nicks and abrasions to eyes, nose, mouth, and headdress, with fading to areas of original pigmentation, and light encrustations. Light earthen deposits and fabulous traces of original pigmentation throughout.