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The Book “Hair and Death in Ancient Egypt”…Coming soon!!!!


Book Hair and Death in Ancient Egypt

Book Hair and Death in Ancient Egypt

Mourners shake and pull their hair on reliefs and paintings from ancient Egypt. They took part in funerary ceremonies in ancient Egypt, contributing to the dead’s resurrection in the afterlife. Hair played a clear role in these rites. In this publication Mª Rosa Valdesogo Martín (Madrid, 1968) describes the relation between hair and these rites, and the role hair played in death in ancient Egypt. This book is the publication of her Phd research about the Hair in the Funerary Ceremony of Ancient Egypt.

 

 

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Requirements of Professional Mourners in Ancient Egypt.


Among the Ancient Egypt gods, Isis and Nephtys occupied a very important role.

It is an ancient Egypt fact, that the two professional mourners in the role of Isis and Nephtys did a mourning rite during the funeral for granting the dead’s resurrection.

All along our work we have been writing about those two women, who were essential in the funerary ceremony of Ancient Egypt, but what do we really know about them?

Two different ways of representing Isis and Nephtys assisting the deceased: as the two kites (tomb of Sennedjem) and as women (tomb of Nakhtamon). XIX Dynasty. Photos: www.osirisnet.net

Two different ways of representing Isis and Nephtys assisting the deceased: as the two kites (tomb of Sennedjem) and as women (tomb of Nakhtamon). XIX Dynasty. Photos: http://www.osirisnet.net

Ancient Egyptian art shows the two professional mourners always at both ends of the corpse in the cortege to the tomb; they are identified as Isis and Nephtys or as “kites” (according to the legend of Osiris Isis adopted the shape of a kite for giving him back the breath and his virility), but the inscriptions do not clarify much more about them.
There is an important ancient Egypt document, which could help us in understanding better the requirements of these two representatives of Isis and Nephtys for “working” as official mourners in ancient Egyptian funerals: The Songs of Isis and Nephtys (Brisith Museum Papyrus No. 10188)…

Continue reading in www.mariarosavaldesogo.com

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.

Hair and Death in Ancient Egypt: Foreword.


 

I started this research when Dr. Nadine Guilhou from the university of Montpellier told me about some images in Egyptian iconography where hair in funerary rites was treated in a very special way.

The first important document was a vignette in the chapter 168 of the Book of the Dead. Here mourning women in the funeral cortege of Re were shaking their hair and covering their faces with it.

Chapter 168 B of the Book of the Dead.

Chapter 168 B of the Book of the Dead.

I needed to be sure that it was not an isolated case, so I had to find out more similar examples. I found many similar scenes in Theban tombs from the New Kingdom where mourning women gesticulated in the same way: Amenemhat (TT82),  Minakht (TT87), Rekhmire (TT100) and Ineni (TT81), in the tomb of Renni at el-Kab (see the front of the blog). Out of the burials, but always in the funerary context, there is a scene from the funerary temple of Seti I in Dra Abu el-Naga.

Relief from the tomb of Amenemhat (TT 82)

Relief from the tomb of Amenemhat (TT 82)

Such a common attitude could not be just a coincidence, or a theatrical exposure of pain, but it had to arise from a deeper reason related to the funeral rite.

I still needed to look for more. Together with the iconography in Egyptology is necessary to have a look to the vocabulary. Among the words used by the Egyptian for “mourner” there was iakhbyt or hayt; I noticed that in many cases the writing did not include the determinative of a woman or a dishevelled woman, but the hieroglyph of the hair.

Determinatives of a woman and a dishevelled woman.

Determinatives of a woman and a dishevelled woman. Below the words in egyptian for “mourner“.

Jeroglíficos Foreword1


  This showed that the mourner’s hair was such an important part of them, that even it could identify them.

As we were in the funeral field, I had to consider all funerary texts and I found many allusions to the capillary element. Those ones were more frequent in the Coffin Texts of the Middle Kingdom and all of them with a « common denominator »: in all speeches mentioning the hair, mourner women were the main personages (and of course the mourning rite) and the Osiris myth was the backdrop.

For supporting the written document of the Middle Kingdom I found two images from the same period. One of them was a representation of a mourner beside the coffin leaning onwards and with her hair over her face; the other one was the Louvre stela C15, where the two mourners who assist the dead are doing this same gesture.

Mourning woman beside the coffin. Image in a coffin of the Middle Kingdom from Abydos.

Mourning woman beside the coffin. Image in a coffin of the Middle Kingdom from Abydos.

Given that the Coffin Texts is where more allusions to hair can be found, I decided to initiate the research with reading of this corpus, so the other texts I mention are just support documents.

HAIR AND DEATH IN ANCIENT EGYPT


In 2005 I published my book about Hair in Funerary Context in Ancient Egypt, which was my doctorate research. With the help of Nadine Guilhou from Université Paul Valéry (Montpellier) I came to important conclusions that helped to know much better some funerary rites in Ancient Egypt.  But, mainly, I noticed the importance of mourning women, whose presence was crucial for the dead’s resurrection.

Mourning women, one of them on the ground pulling her hair. Relief from the tomb of Mereruka in Saqqara. Photo: Mª Rosa Valdesogo Martín.

It was published in Spanish and my intention was to translate it into English or French for the international community.

Thanks to the new technologies, now we can share knowledge in an easy and quick way, so I have thought to use them  to transmit that content to everyone who could be interested.

I hope you enjoy.

María Rosa Valdesogo Martín