Beaded mummy masks abounded during the Late Period, covering both decorative and symbolic purposes in burial practices. 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; they seem to have 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 – himself also a dead being – frequently depicted in the tombs with an identical skin-colour. Their main function would have been the protection of the dead, and in our example, as the figure represented is wearing the beard of Osiris, it also could have shown his or her hope for reincarnation.
Egyptian Faience Mummy Mask
A very fine Ancient Egyptian beaded mummy mask composed of small, flattened disc-shaped faience beads of various shades. They have been restrung in their original arrangement and depict a highly stylised face, with a yellow triangular nose and bright, trapezoid eyes. The skin takes a green hue while the small mouth features red beads and the contours of the face are rendered in a vibrant yellow. This mask would have been placed over the face of the deceased at their burial, in a similar manner to the better-known cartonnage mummy masks, mostly for decorative or protective purposes.
Period: Late Dynastic Period
Provenance: From Mariaud de Serres collection, Paris 1980-90s.
Condition: Very fine condition. The beads have maintained their original shape and colour.