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Wig of human hair

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Height: 49.500 cm

Salt Collection

EA 2560

Ancient Egypt and Sudan

    Wig of human hair

    From Thebes, Egypt
    18th Dynasty, about 1550-1300 BC

    An ancient Egyptian's crowning glory

    This wig is made of human hair, and is supposed to have come from a tomb at Thebes. It was found in its original box. The wig is in two parts, a mass of naturally curly hair on top of several hundred thin plaits hanging around the neck of the main wig. The curls are impregnated with a mixture of beeswax and resin. Each hair in the wig was waxed at the end and attached to the wig by twisting and then pressing back into the wax on the hair stem. An examination by a modern wigmaker concluded that the standard of craftsmanship was as high as in a good modern wig.

    Wigs appear to have been commonly used in Egypt; Egyptologists normally refer to the majority of hairstyles shown in painting and sculpture as wigs. If this was indeed the case, and wigs were regularly worn for special occasions, then there must have been a considerable number in use. The hair is lighter than the almost pure black that is shown in Egyptian paintings.

    J. Stevens Cox, 'The construction of an Ancient Egyptian wig (c. 1400 B.C.) in the British Museum', Journal of Egyptian Archaeol-5, 63 (1977)

    S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)

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