Jar Lid with Human Face
Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View: Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
The absence of any trace of shoulders indicates that this limestone head was never part of a complete sculpture. It probably served as the lid of a canopic jar, a vessel containing a corpse’s vital organs that were removed during mummification. The artist who carved this face followed the dominant style of mid-Twelfth Dynasty, including full, fleshy cheeks, wide open eyes with a high, arcing upper lid, and an overall sense of serenity.
ca. 1876-1837 B.C.E.
middle Dynasty 12
4 × 4 7/16 × 4 1/16 in. (10.2 × 11.2 × 10.3 cm) (show scale)
Purchased with funds given by Christos G. Bastis and Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
Limestone head, almost certainly the lid of a vessel, wearing vertically striated wig and plaited beard; square face with full fleshy cheeks, and large ears; thick, horizontal eyebrows descending obliquely across temples; rimmed eyes with deeply carved inner canthi and flaring cosmetic lines extending from outer canthi; upper lids rise in great arcs; lower lids are straight; straight nose (tip gone) with drilled rounded nostrils, shallow fold rising from each nasal ala and extending to a point parallel to bottom of nose; extremely shallow philtrum; mouth wide and straight; lips sharply modeled; end of beard gone.
Condition: Entire surface of head chipped and abraded; most severe damage on back; facial damage includes chips on both eyebrows and lids of both eyes; ears, right cheek, end of nose, and lower lip; left cheek abraded. Bottom of head flat.
Jar Lid with Human Face, ca. 1876-1837 B.C.E. Limestone, 4 × 4 7/16 × 4 1/16 in. (10.2 × 11.2 × 10.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased with funds given by Christos G. Bastis and Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 87.78. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 87.78_SL1.jpg)
overall, 87.78_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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any additional information you might have.
Did ancient Egyptians where head coverings = all the time? Are these people wearing head coverings? What are they made out of?
The quick answer is no. You'll see in our galleries a few sculptures that depict men with bald heads too. In the first sculpture you photographed, she is wearing a vulture headdress, which is a symbol of maternal protection and associated with goddesses and queens, over her hair.
The second sculpture simply wears a thick hairstyle. This may have been a wig made from hair (the finest examples, of course, were human), or his own hair with the addition of extensions.
Headdresses, in ancient Egyptian art can be a helpful indicator of rank or identity. Hairstyles can even help us date artworks based on when certain styles were in fashion.
Interesting -- thank you!