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Collection Highlights

A Woman’s Mask

A Woman’s Mask
© BA Antiquities Museum/M. Aly and R. Ali

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Registration Number(s)
BAAM Serial Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum Number T0031

Inv.Inventory
 (Greco-Roman Museum) 7391

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Greco-Roman Antiquities

A Woman’s Mask

Category:
Masks, funerary masks
Date:
Graeco-Roman Period, reign of Claudius (41–54 CE)
Provenance:
Unknown
Material(s):
Man made material, plaster
Height:
20.5 cm
Hall:
Greco-Roman Antiquities


Description

 A mask of colored gypsum  for a woman probably in her twenties with chubby face and neck. The mouth follows the Egyptian tradition, and the ears are relatively large with an earring in the shape of a ring with three pearls. She also wears a garland on her head.

Hairstyles

Hairstyles are distinct in every age, offering an effective element in chronicling such masks. In the earliest masks that come from Claudius’ era, women’s hair was done into tight spiral curls around the face with three other curls on both sides of the neck (some of them were lost as in our model) and tied into one bun at the back. 

Making the Eyes

There are four techniques to make the eyes; the earliest goes back to the first century CE where they used to paint them as they do now. The second has the iris painted on the eye on a base of gypsum and coated by a fine layer of glass while the eyelids and eyelashes are painted in black. This technique began in Hadrian’s era (117–138 CE) and remained until the beginning of the third century. In the third technique the eyes are made of white opaque glass or probably crystalline limestone, the iris of black glass, and the eyelids of white or blue glass while the eyelashes were often painted. The third technique was used simultaneously with the second. In the fourth technique, the eyes were not inlaid, but the pupil was demarcated by a pressed spot. This last technique was first used in the third century. 

 


The information given here is subject to modification/update as a result of ongoing research.

References
  • Giuseppe Botti, Catalogue des monuments exposés au Musée Gréco-Romain d’Alexandrie (Alexandria: Imprimerie Générale A. Mourès, 1901): 136, no. 2359.
  • Günther Grimm, Die Römischen Mumienmasken aus Ägypten (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1974).
  • Fekri Hassan et al., eds., Alexandria Graeco-Roman Museum: A Thematic Guide (Cairo: National Center for Documentation of Cultural and Natural Heritage; The Supreme Council of Antiquities, 2002): 187.
  • Mary McCrimmon, “Graeco-Egyptian Masks and Portraits in the Royal Ontario Museum”, American Journal of Archaeology 49, no. 1 (1945): 52-61.
  • W. M. Flinders Petrie, Roman Portraits and Memphis (IV), Publications of the Egyptian Research Account. British School of Archaeology in Egypt 20 (London: School of Archaeology in Egypt. University College, 1911).
  • عزيزة سعيد محمود، الأقنعة الجصية الملونة من مصر الرومانية، سلسلة الدراسات بالمتحف اليوناني الروماني‎ (القاهرة: مطابع الهيئة المصرية العامة للكتاب، 1981): 12-22، 25.
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