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Egyptian Wood Sarcophagus Mask w/ Bronze & Stone Eyes

Egypt, 3rd Intermediate Period, 25-21 Dynasty, ca. 1069 to 732 BCE. A dramatic sarcophagus mask with a turquoise and black striped headdress, bronze eyebrow and eyelid inlays (oxidized to blue-green hues), large stone eye inlays, heart-shaped lips, a straight noble nose, and delicate feminine contours, all on a russet red face. This mask exudes a lifelike air not often seen in Egyptian art. Masterfully carved from imported wood, layered with gesso, impressively detailed with paint and inlays. Size: 9.5" W x 12.75" H (24.1 cm x 32.4 cm); 19.75" H (50.2 cm) on 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 likeness of the deceased. Artisans used different materials. Earlier masks were carved from wood. Later, cartonnage, a material made from papyrus or linen and soaked in plaster which was then applied to a wooden mold, was used. Royal death masks, perhaps the most famous being that of Tutankhamen, were made from precious metals. All death masks were intended to resemble the deceased subject; however, eyes were always slightly enlarged and lips presented in a subtle smile as we see in this example.

Condition: Expected surface wear and losses to peripheries as shown, but visage is remarkably well preserved. Bronze inlays have oxidized to present beautiful blue-green coloration. A few old bronze pegs are visible on the eyebrows. Wood mounting pegs visible on verso.

Provenance: Ex-Private East Coast, USA Collection

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