Egyptian Painted Cartonnage Mummy Mask

SKU: MS.0039

Origin: Egypt
Circa: Late New Kingdom to Third Intermediate Period, c. 1186-945 BC
Dimensions: 8.5 Height (22 cms)
Medium: Cartonnage

Cartonnage masks such as this were used to protect and idealize the facial features of the deceased in burial. The oversized eyes outlined with extending cosmetic lines and conforming brows are typical of the type. This endearing portrait also features a slender nose, gentle smiling lips, and an elegant floral patterned headdress with headband over an elaborately echeloned wig.  The striking pigment that still remains over much of the painted surface is in unusually good condition, and provides a palpable sense of vitality to the piece.

The Thétis Collection, Geneva, Switzerland; acquired prior to 1970

Broken away with jagged edges all the way around the mask. Break line coming into the mask at a v-shape over the top of the wig with a crack running from this down through the wig, forehead, proper left brow and inside of eye socket where it disappears. Nose chipped, as visible in illustration. Other chips overall including to wig, brows and over face with some flaking to the painted decoration as visible in illustration particularly to the painted brows and eyeline. Painted surface overall with light crazing. Some dirt staining to proper right cheek and some yellow dirt staining to proper right eye. Interior with layer of white stucco. Two modern nails and wire for hanging.

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 fitted to a wooden mold. 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

For a similar see Penn Museum, The Eckley B. Coxe Jr. Expedition to Drah abu el Naga (Thebes), Egypt, acc #29-86-379. Museum of Fine Arts Budapest, Coffin Mask, Basement Floor, Ancient Egypt, 51.2129.

J.H. Taylor and N.C. Strudwick, Mummies: Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt. Treasures from The British Museum, Santa Ana and London 2005, pp. 70-1, pl. on p. 70.

M.A. Stadler, Ägyptische Mumienmasken, pp. 35 and 40.


New Kingdom

Egyptian Painted Cartonnage Mummy Mask

New Kingdom

Receive newsletters *

You may also like

Recently viewed