New Kingdom Alabaster Kohl Jar


An Egyptian kohl jar in fine alabaster. It has a tapering, pyriform body with a short neck and pronounced shoulder, as well as a wide rim and an off-set disk base. The alabaster is a pleasing yellow-cream shade, and has been carefully rendered by the craftsman.

Date: Circa 1500 - 1070 BC
Period: New Kingdom Period
Condition: Fine condition; complete and intact.

In stock

SKU: AS-1290 Category: Tag:

The New Kingdom Period was an especially prosperous period of Egypt’s history, and it marked the pinnacle of Egyptian power. Alabaster was a fairly precious and sought-after material, suggesting that this jar had a wealthy owner. A range of alabaster goods were produced during the New Kingdom, cosmetic jars in particular, which served to reflect the relative wealth of the era.

Jars of this kind were used to store kohl, before it was applied to the body with a glass rod or reed. Kohl comes from a lead sulphide called “galena”, which was considered to have disinfecting and fly-deterrent properties, and is found frequently prescribed for assorted eye complaints in medical papyri. The Ancient Egyptians (both men and women) wore kohl on their eyelids as protection against the glare of the sun. In addition to this practical use, outlining the eyes could also have been a way of drawing a protective amulet, such as the Wadjet Eye, right onto the skin. To make kohl, the galena was first ground up on a palette, with water or animal fat then added to create a paste. This paste would have adhered to the skin, with soot also added to produce a darker coloured kohl.


Weight 96.8 g
Dimensions H 4.0 cm




Reference: For similar, see The Metropolitan Museum, New York, Item 22.1.841

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