Masks of this type rose to popularity in the Late Period of Ancient Egypt. They likely had both a decorative and symbolic role, as the burial of the dead in Ancient Egypt was an elaborate and ritualised process. Their un-naturalistic style and the similarities between beaded mummy masks in general make it unlikely that they were modelled after the face of the deceased individual, but more likely been generic images of a dead human face as the absence of expression and the blue-greenish skin complexion could indicate. However, such masks have also been interpreted as visual representations of the god Osiris, who was himself a dead being, was frequently depicted in the tombs with an identical skin-colour. Winged scarabs were usually modelled in faience and placed as pectoral embellishment on the chest of the mummy. In this case, the scarabs, symbol of rebirth and regeneration, has been sewed together with the mummy mask. According to mythology, the Four Sons of Horus each were attributed a different organ to protect. For Imesty, the liver; for Duamutef, the stomach; for Hapi, the lungs; and for Qebehsenuef, the intestines. As the heart was believed to be the resting place of the soul, it was not removed from the deceased. The brain, on the other hand, was thought to be inconsequential, so was scrambled to liquid, removed with metal hooks and then discarded. The four protected organs were removed from the body, embalmed, and then stored in their corresponding Canopic jar.
Beaded Mummy Mask with Funerary Face, Four Sons of Horus and Winged Scarab
A fine Egyptian mummy mask made of small faience beads, restrung in their original arrangement. Blue, black, turquoise blue, red and yellow tones have been used to render a stylised human face with a neutral expression. The large trapezoid eyes, long thing eyebrows, broad nose and small mouth are arranged in a symmetrical manner. The mask is enriched by a tripartite panel under the chin of the mask, which display a beaded composition of winged scarab, rendered in blue faience beads with red faience outlining the shape of the central scarab. Under the beaded scarab are the Four Sons of Horus; Imsety, Duamutef, Hapi, Qebehsenuef. It is very rare to have this enlarged group rather than just the face. Elongated faience beads frame the entire composition. Such masks would have been placed over the face of the deceased at their burial, as part of a shroud.
Period: Late Dynastic Period
Condition: Extremely fine, restrung.