Tag Archives: ancient egypt mourner

Young Girls with Common Mourners in Ancient Egypt.

Tha artist in Ancient Egypt followed the rule of depicting children with the side lock of hair.

However, this archetype so common in the Old and Middle Kingdom, had some changes from the New Kingdom on.

Common mourners from the tomb of Ramose. XVIII Dynasty. Ancient Egypt. photo wikimedia

Common mourners from the tomb of Ramose. XVIII Dynasty. Photo: wikipedia

It is specially evident in the mourning scenes. Among the mourners usually some young girls can be seen taking part in the mourning performance, crying and rising arms as their adult companions. These young girls could be depicted in a smaller scale or nudes, showing this way their lower status. Also, according to the canon of Ancient Egypt, they should be represented with the side lock of hair. But from the New Kingdom it did not always follow the rule and some variations were introduced in the way of drawing the chiildhoodin Ancient Egypt.

For instance already in the tomb of Ramose, dating from the XVIII Dynasty, there is a group of common mourners in the funerary cortège. Some of them could be young girls due to their smaller size in the depiction, although they appear with the same long hair and the same clothes as the adults. One of them, however, was really a very young girl, due to the samller scale, her nudity and her different hairstyle: a middlelong hair, fringe and sidelock of hair.

Common mourners from the tomb of Ameneminet. XIX Dynasty. Ancient Egypt. Photo www.osirisnet.net

Common mourners from the tomb of Ameneminet. XIX Dynasty. Photo www.osirisnet.net

In the tomb of Ameneminet (TT277) from the XIX Dynasty…

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Offering the Make-up in Ancient Egypt. Funerary rites get into Egyptian Art.

We usually think that the decoration from the Egyptian tombs does not change in the whole history of Ancient Egypt. But in fact, there are  some images, which appear in some periods and become usual during some time.

Mourner offering make-up in the tomb of Rekhmire. XVIII Dynasty. Ancient Egypt.

Mourner offering the make-up. Detail from the south wall in the tomb of Rekhmire. XVIII Dynasty.

That is the case of a typical Egyptian scene of the professional mourner in some tombs of the New Kingdom: the tomb of Rekhmire (TT 100), the tomb of Sobekhotep (TT 63) or the tomb of Sennefer (TT 96). The mourner appears with no mane of hair kneeling in front of an altar and offering globular vases. According to the inscription in Rekhmire’s tomb, she if offering green make-up for the eyes (Hodel-Hoenes, S., Leben und Tod im Alten Ägypten. Thebanische Privatgräber des Neuen Reiches. Darmstadt, 1991, p. 130).

Offering make-up in the tomb of Sennefer. Ancient Egypt.

Offering make-up in the tomb of Sennefer.It is similar to the scene in the tomb of Rekhmire. Gourna. XVIII Dynasty. Photo: www.osirisnet.net

We could think that, if the scene appears now it is becuase it refers to something belonging to the Egyptian funerals of the New Kigndom,  but in fact it is not so.

This action happens just after the Opening of the Mouth ceremony; ; a group of Ancient Egypt sacred practices 8And also secret) for giving back the life to the deceased. We have already seen that, according to the documents, it seems that in these ceremony the mourners were shaven just after the official mourning rite. It was the moment of offering the Udjat eye to the mummy and reviving this way the myth of Osiris, in which the god received the Udjat eye as a sign if his final resurrection. And in the rite it happens when the ox (as a sethian victim) has already been sacrificed.

Offering make-up in the tomb of Sennefer. Gourna. Ancient Egypt.

Detailof the offering make-up in the tomb of Sennefer. Gourna. XVIII Dynasty. Photo: http://www.osirisnet.net

At the end of Ancient Egypt funerals the dead had to receive the Udjat eye. The funeral staff symbolized it shaving the mourners and giving make-up for the eyes. The fact of presenting make-up is already documented in the Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom (Pyr. 54b-55; Pyr. 609) and the Coffin Texts of the Middle Kingdom (CT VII, 934; 936) as a gesture which symbolizes “to fit the eye in the face” (Wb, IV, 370, 12).

In many cases the mourners offered green make-up for the left eye and black make-up for the right one. This was a way of representing the whole lunar cycle, and therefore the victory of Horus over Seth. A belief, which was very rooted to Egyptian though from immemorial times. So, to give the make-up at the end of the Opening of the Mouth ceremony would be much older than the XVIII Dynasty.

For some reason, the practice of offering the make-up could be during the XVIII Dynasty represented. As it happens with some other gestures of funerary rites, the artists of the New Kingdom were more aware than before of what happened during the Egyptian funerals. The secret funerary rites of Ancient Egypt, got into the Egyptian art.






Shaven Mouners in an Ancient Egypt Funerary Boat.

Ancient Egypt wooden models were frequent during the Middle Kingdom and thanks to them we know much today about everyday life of ancient Egyptians: butchery, bread production, granaries… Among them there were also many dedicated to the funerary boats which Egyptians utilized for transporting the mummy on the Nile to the necropolis.

These funeral barges show the body lying on the bier and being flanked at both ends by the two professional Egyptian mourners in the role of Isis and Nephtys and sometimes accompanied by one priest. The attitude of that two women depicted by the artist is quite static and not too much can be deduced from it, except that they accompany the deceased.

wood model of a boat with mummy and mourners. British Museum EA9524. XII Dynasty. Ancient Egypt

Wooden model of a funerary boat with the mummy and the two professional mourners. Their scalp is well visible in pink color and with black spots. XII Dynasty. Photo: British Museum.

However, piece EA9524 in the British Museum, dating from the XII Dynasty, represents the funerary boat with the corpse and the two mourning women and both extremes; in this case there is no priest, but a helmsman. And the image of both women gives some interesting information about them.

The two professional Egyptian mourners are not in such a static posture as usual. They appear with their left arms raised and the hand on the head, while the right arms are extended towards the mummy. So, they are not just standing, but making the typical gesture of mourning in Ancient Egypt.

But the most important point in this piece is in the head of those two professional Egyptian mourners. They are not with long hair, and their hair is not covered by a scarf. In both women (and also in the helmsman) the scalp can be seen. Their heads were painted in pink color with small black spots. So, the Egyptian artist indicated that their hair was very short or that their head had just been shaved.

The two Drty (two kites), offering nw vases to the four pools. Relief from the tomb of Pahery in el-Kab. XVIII Dynasty. Ancient Egypt

The two professional mourners with short hair at the end of the funeral. Relief from the tomb of Pahery in el-Kab. XVIII Dynasty. Photo: www.osirisnet.net

That links perfectly with one of our affirmations: the hair of two professional Egyptian mourners in the role of Isis and Nephtys was cut and that short hair was a distinctive of the professional mourner in Ancient Egypt. The short hair became a resource for the artists of Ancient Egypt for depicting these two professional mourners and differentiate them from the common mourners.