Tag Archives: egyptian artist

Hair in Egyptian Art for Expressing Respect.


Hair became in Ancient Egypt a resource for expressing things.

The bending hair was used in Ancient Egypt art for drawing body movements.

As some movements were related in ancient egyptian belief to some attitudes, hair was also used for expressing those attitudes. We are referring concretly to “respect”.

The gesture of bending the body forwards was utilised by artists of Ancient Egypt for expressing the respect in front of kings and deities. And the hair forwards became a resource of stressing this gesture of veneration.

Papyrus of Ani. The couple in front of the final judgment. XIX Dynasty. British Museum. Ancient Egypt

Papyrus of Ani. The couple in front of the final judgment. XIX Dynasty. Photo: British Museum.

One good example is the Papyrus of Ani (XIX Dynasty) in the Brisith Museum. In it  we can see the couple bended when coming in front of the final judgment. Ani’s wife appears with her hair slightly forwards, this way the Egyptyian artists emphasized her body movement.

Papyrus of Ani. Ani greeting the Ennead. XIX Dynasty. British Museum. Ancient Egypt

Papyrus of Ani. Ani greeting the Ennead. XIX Dynasty. Photo: British Museum.

This was exagerated in the same papyrus when, after passing the judgment, Ani gets into paradise and greets the gods. In this case Ani is represented with a front lock of hair forwards; the artist stressed the meaning of bending the body as a signof respect.

The papyrus of Ramose (XIX Dynasty) in the Fitzwilliam Museum of Cambridge is too damage, but we can guess the same scene as in the former one. Ramose’s body is greeting the gods, while his body is bended and a front black lock of hair can be discerned.

Book of the Dead (Papyrus of Ramose). Ramose seems to show his front lock of hair. Fitzwilliam Museum. Cambridge. Ancient Egypt.

Book of the Dead (Papyrus of Ramose). Ramose seems to show his front lock of hair. XIX Dynasty. Photo: Fitzwilliam Museum. Cambridge.

Although these examples all date from XIX Dyansty, next week we will see that it was not trendy just at that time,

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An Egyptian Ostracon with a Disheveled Mourner.


Funerals of Ancient Egypt are usually known thanks to funerary scenes from the tomb walls. However, small objects can also give a very useful information.

Ostracon with funerary scene. New Kingdom. Manchester Museum. Ancient Egypt

Ostracon with funerary scene. New Kingdom. Manchester Museum.

That is the case of a limestone ostracon from Thebes and in the Manchester Museum (Acc. no. 5886), which dates from the New Kingdom. An Egyptian artist drew on it an ink sketch with a scene of a funeral.

The scene represents an Egyptian burial (there is a post written by Campbell Price in the blog ofthe Manchester Museum). The plan of the tomb is seen from a bird’s-eye view, while the members of the funerary team and the coffin are shown from a front view (the combination of different visual plans was normal in Egyptian art).

Ostracon with funerary scene. Detail of common mourners. New Kingdom. Manchester Museum. Ancient Egypt.

Ostracon with funerary scene. Detail of the common mourners. New Kingdom. Manchester Museum.

Outside the tomb a group of mourners are standing while weeping and a priest is with them burning incense and pouring water. Although it is not too clear, it seems that the artist pretended to draw one of these women with a lock of hair falling in front of her face. It should be pointed out that, while the three others appear with her raised arms, the mourner with the hair falling on her face has her arms hanging down.

Why? Egyptian artists had several ways of representing the lament: tears droping on the face, raised arms, arms crossing on the chest, hands covering the face, hands over the head, hair falling forwards, hair covering the face…Probably the artist who drew this sketch chose to represent three common mourners with raised arms and another one with hair falling on her face.

Common Mourners in the tomb of Rekhmire. Ancient Egypt.

Common Mourners in the tomb of Rekhmire. Photo: Mª Rosa Valdesogo Martín.

In fact, a very similar solution found the Egyptian artist  in the tomb of Rekhmire (TT100), where some mourners are kneeling with their hands on their head, some others are standing with crossed arms on their chests and another one stands also with crossed arms but with the mane of hair covering her face.

Relief from the tomb of Amenemhat (TT 82)

Painting from the tomb of Amenemhat (TT 82)

Also in the tomb of Amenemhat (TT82) we can see a group pf common mourners among who, some raise their arms, some cover their faces with their hands and two make the nwn gesture of shaking hair forwards. With them a priests holds an incense burner and a purifying water vessel. The same scene as we can see in the ostracon of the Manchester Museum.

The scene of this ostracon could be considered as an schematic way (or an “ostracon version”) of the nwn gesture made by a common mourner.