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Funerary Mask

A wooden sculpture of the head and neck of a person, the skin painted gold, a geometrically decorated long wig, and many painted symbols.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A wooden sculpture of the head and neck of a person, the skin painted gold, a geometrically decorated long wig, and many painted symbols.

Date:

Late Ptolemaic Period-early Roman Period, 1st century BCE

Artist:

Egyptian

About this artwork

Funerary masks protected the head and chest of a mummified body. They present an idealized version of the wearer, ensuring that they would continue to breathe, eat, hear, see, and speak in the next life. Preserving the body and its individual parts through mummification or depiction was essential to life after death in ancient Egypt. Potent symbols, such as the amulets shaped like anatomical hearts strung around the neck of the mask here, provided an extra layer of protection. For ancient Egyptians the heart—not the brain—was the center of thought and emotion. In the final judgment, a tribunal of gods weighed the deceased’s heart against the feather of Maat (truth) to determine whether they had led a just life, which included providing for the poor, widows, and orphans and avoiding misdeeds such as theft and murder. A balanced scale granted entrance to the afterlife, while a heavy heart doomed its owner to an eternity of nonexistence.

Status

On View, Gallery 50

Department

Arts of Africa

Culture

Ancient Egyptian

Title

Funerary Mask

Place

Egypt (Object made in)

Date

100 BCE–1 BCE

Medium

Cartonnage, gold leaf, and pigment

Dimensions

46 × 33.3 × 28 cm (18 1/8 × 13 1/8 × 11 in.)

Credit Line

W. Moses Willner Fund

Reference Number

1910.221

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https://api.artic.edu/api/v1/artworks/64312/manifest.json

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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