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MUMMY MASK

Egypt: Fayum
Early Roman Period, ca. 30 B.C.-25 A.D.
Cartonnage, gilded and painted
50.4 cm H, 32.7 cm W
Gift of the Egypt Exploration Fund, 1901-2
OIM 7177

Mummy masks were a traditional part of the funerary equipment with which ancient Egyptians supplied their burials for the life they believed would continue after death. This example is a stylized portrait of the deceased, evidently a woman. It originally covered the head and shoulders of her mummified body.

The medium is cartonnage, a kind of ancient Egyptian papier- mache made from used linen and papyrus. The cartonnage was coated with gesso before the paint and gilding were applied.

The deceased is shown wearing a necklace at the throat with a heart amulet as a pendant. Below is a broad collar necklace fringed with drop pendants.

A representation of funerary shrines with double doors appears on each shoulder. The god Osiris sits on top of each shrine. These divine figures were intended to represent the deceased after death, for it was believed that all were reborn as Osiris. The feather which the god holds is an allusion to the deceased successfully being reborn after passing a judgement before the tribunal of the gods.


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Revised: November 12, 1997
Copyright 2006 Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
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