Mask of a woman
Roman Period, about AD 100-120
Painted plaster cartonnage mask of a woman
Funerary images in ancient Egypt were not restricted to the painted wooden panels, known as 'mummy portraits'. Plaster masks, often extending to cover the upper body, were also used, and seem to have been particularly popular in Middle Egypt.
The face of this
mask was made separately in a mould and subsequently attached to
the head-dress and torso. The woman wears a yellow tunic, leaving
the breasts exposed, a collar and a winged scarab beetle, and has a
garland of rosebuds in her hair. On her sleeves are the protective
The style of the earrings, bracelets and finger rings suggests a date in the early second century AD; around that time this hairstyle, based on a traditional Egyptian one, became popular for funerary portraits. This mask shows that elements of traditional Egyptian funerary iconography were still to be found well into the Roman era.
S. Walker and M. Bierbrier, Ancient faces: mummy portrai-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)