|Egyptian, Late period
|Late Period, 664 – 332 B.C
|205 mm x 130 mm
|Ex French private collection, acquired between 1970 – 1990
During the Egyptian Late Period, particularly from the 7th century BCE onward, the use of wooden sarcophagus masks became a distinctive feature in Egyptian funerary practices. These masks were crafted to cover the face of the deceased as an integral part of the outer coffin. The wooden sarcophagus mask served a dual purpose: it not only provided a lifelike visage for the deceased to facilitate the journey to the afterlife but also acted as a protective element, with the belief that the spirit of the deceased could recognize and inhabit the representation of their own face. The attention to detail in these masks was remarkable, with artisans carving intricate features, including eyes, nose, and mouth, often reflecting an idealized and serene expression.
Wooden sarcophagus masks were typically made from a variety of materials, such as sycamore, cedar, or acacia wood, and were often adorned with paint and gilding. The use of wooden materials allowed for a high degree of craftsmanship and customization, enabling artisans to tailor the mask to the individual’s likeness. These masks were an essential component of elite burials during the Late Period, emphasizing the Egyptian belief in the continuity of the soul and the importance of preserving the deceased’s identity for their journey into the afterlife.