Treasure from the Desert Sands

 

The custom of mummifying the bodies of the dead in ancient Egypt looked back on a tradition that reached far back into the past. The dead were often preserved in a shell made of papier mâché and their faces covered with a mummy mask. In Roman times, the mask was replaced by a wooden tablet showing a portrait of the deceased person, which was wrapped into the mummy cover .

Many mummy portraits that originated in the period from the 1st to the 3rd century AD are characterised by intensive colours and subtle shading and are vibrant and true to life. Sometimes the portrait looks like a real-life photograph of the depicted person. This is due in no small part to the brilliance of the wax pigments that are applied using an "encaustic" technique. The artist heated them before applying them to the picture surface.

In the dry Egyptian climate the painted wooden tablets with the mummy portraits often remained in very good condition. This is also the case with the example in the Munich Collections of Antiques, which was found in 1892 during excavations at Hawara in the Faiyum Oasis. It is one of the most beautiful and best-quality antique mummy portraits that exist. It originates from around 140 AD and depicts a young upper-class man of imperial Egypt. His undergarment, or tunic, has purple stripes, as worn by members of the Roman senatorial aristocracy as an indication of their rank.

If you look into the eyes of the young man in this portrait, you can understand why the first person to discover Egyptian mummy portraits, the Italian Pietro della Valle, spoke of them in a letter in the year 1615 as the "most delicate sight in the world".

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Glyptothek München

15. Juni 2013

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15. Juni 2013

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Pompejanum Aschaffenburg

15. Juni 2013

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.