Egypt, Late Dynastic period, 26th to 31st Dynasty, ca. 664 to 332 BCE. A gorgeous face section of a hand-carved wooden sarcophagus panel with a flat backing. Centered on the panel is a wooden mummy mask with a serene countenance defined by bulging ovoid eyes, a slender nose that flares lightly at the nostrils, tall cheeks flanking full lips above a rounded chin, and tab-shaped ears, all beneath a simple cap that sits low on the smooth forehead. Both wig lappets are draped to the sides of the head and bear traces of black-painted gesso, and the chest still retains the soft details of the red-painted broad pectoral collar. Traces of six wooden dowels are visible in their original holes across the front, with several more observable on the verso. An elegant and sophisticated example of ancient Egyptian funerary tradition! Size: 19" W x 16.875" H (48.3 cm x 42.9 cm); 19.4" H (49.3 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 the body in linen, and then embalming. Death masks and sarcophagus panels like this example were created so that the "ba" - the part of the soul that left the body each day - could recognize their old form body and become rejoined each evening with the "ka" - the part of the soul that permanently stayed with the body.
Provenance: private J.H. collection, Beaverton, Oregon, USA, acquired in 2002; ex-Tom Cederlind collection, Portland, Oregon, USA
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