|Mummy mask painted over gesso
|Egyptian, Late period
|664 – 332 B.C
|130 mm x 110 mm
|Ex U.S.A Gallery
Ex New York private collection, acquired before 1948
Wooden mummy masks from ancient Egypt, particularly during the Greco-Roman period, were remarkable artifacts that played a multifaceted role in the funerary customs of the time. These masks were not merely functional but also held deep religious significance. Crafted with meticulous detail, they depicted the likeness of the deceased and served as a visual representation of the individual’s identity in the afterlife. Their placement over the mummy’s head was believed to help the soul recognize and reunite with its body in the realm of the dead. Furthermore, these masks were designed to protect the deceased on their perilous journey through the afterlife, guarding against malevolent forces and ensuring a safe passage.
The wooden mummy masks were not only religious objects but also works of art. They showcased the skills of ancient Egyptian artisans who created these masks using a combination of wood, linen, and plaster. The masks were often painted with vibrant colors and adorned with symbolic imagery from Egyptian mythology and religious texts. This artistic element served to honor the deceased and underscore the cultural importance of the individual’s transition to the afterlife.