Hair and Death in Ancient Egypt: Parts of the contents.

The work has four main parts:

1) The first one is dedicated to the gesture of shaking the hair made by mourners in Ancient Egypt.

Two women shaking their hairs. Relief from the Red Chapel of Hatshepsut in Karnak. Photo: Mª Rosa Valdesogo Martín

Two women shaking their hairs. Relief from the Red Chapel of Hatshepsut in Karnak. Photo: Mª Rosa Valdesogo Martín

Using the written documents and the iconography, this subject is treated from the practical and symbolic point of view, since I write about the symbology of hair for better understanding that gesture in the funerary context.

2) In the second part I tackle four different aspects of the hair:

  • the lock of hair swt
  • the braid Hnskt
  • the two curls wprty
  • the long hair (mane)  Samt

All speeches here are about these forms of hair from a symbolic perspective, which is always related to regeneration concept, so important in Ancient Egypt.

3) The third part of the work contemplates the relationship between the hair and the Udjat eye (Eye of Horus)Udyat Eye. At the end of the funerary ceremony the delivery of the Udjat eye means the resurrection of the deceased, assimilated to the god Osiris. In this last step the presence of the hair is very relevant, and to analyse it in third place is helpful for understanding much better the final of the funeral.

4) Once I have seen evidences in Ancient Egypt of a lamentation rite with the hair as the main element, I wanted to know in which moment of the funeral it took place. Reading between the lines the funerary texts and the iconography, we could think that the mourning rite was carry out in some moment during the “Opening of the Mouth” ceremony, a group of practices made in front of the mummy or the statue of the dead.

Women mourning beside the mummy. Tomb of Roy in Dra Abu el-Naga. Photo: Mª Rosa Valdesogo Martín.

Women mourning beside the mummy. Tomb of Roy in Dra Abu el-Naga. Photo: Mª Rosa Valdesogo Martín.

The two mourners representing the goddesses Isis and Neftis could be in charge of renewing gestures with their hairs for helping the deceased’s regeneration.

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