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HOME : Egyptian Antiquities : Archive : Container for Cosmetic Pigments
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Container for Cosmetic Pigments - LO.927 (LSO)
Origin: Egypt
Circa: 1300 BC to 600 BC
Dimensions: 1.75" (4.4cm) high x 4.75" (12.1cm) depth
Collection: Egyptian
Medium: Faience, Gold

Additional Information: SOLD
Location: Great Britain
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This beautifully-finished bowl is a cosmetic container which once belonged to a female member of an elite family in ancient Egypt’s most influential period. It is an extremely sophisticated piece of design, with a fluted, shell-like exterior containing a partitioned interior with a star- shaped centre and six radiating compartments.

Makeup was a very necessary part of social behaviour in Egypt. Cosmetics were made from all manner of materials – even including mercury and white lead – to whiten the skin and add colour to the features. The most famous aspect of makeup in this period is of course kohl – a combination of lead, copper, almonds, grease and soot that was used to elongate the lateral aspect of the eyes. However, it was very unusual to have as many different makeups as are indicated by this piece, and its prestige nature is heightened by the expensive material from which it is constructed. The piece is made from faience, a form of early lead-glazed ceramic that was invented in the Middle East as early as 4000 BC, and which reached its most sophisticated expression in Egyptian luxury items such as this.

At this period in history – known as the New Kingdom and the Third Intermediate Period – Egypt was at the height of her power. Her influence extended across the Mediterranean, while her colonies included vast tracts of territory in what is now the Middle East and Subsaharan Africa. It is also the period of Tutankhamun, Seti and Ramses the Great, amongst many others. It was a Golden Age for Egypt, and her material culture was never more exuberant. At the same time, this is a very personal and charming item, which provides a very human link to the ancient past.

This is a striking and beautiful piece of ancient Egyptian art. - (LO.927 (LSO))


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