A woman’s hands

Fragment of a painted mummy shroud, Roman Egypt, late 2nd–3rd century A.D.

This fragment once belonged to a portrait of a woman painted in tempera on a linen shroud that was wrapped around her body before burial. All that remains is a view of her hands, which are ornamented with jewels, including a ring on every finger of her left hand. These rings find parallels in actual objects from this period and offer a poignant reminder that early rings often survive because their owners were sent into the next world with the jewelry they cherished in life. The pinky finger of the left hand wears a key ring, a type first developed in Roman antiquity.

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art (X.390)

These seated ancient Egyptian statues depict the divine Isis and her husband Osiris. They were found together in the tomb of an official from the time of the reign of king Amasis (570–526 BC). Isis wears a sheath dress and a crown in the form of the emblem of Hathor – a solar disc set between cow’s horns. In her right hand she holds the ankh, the sign of life. Osiris, carved in the same beautiful style of the 26th Dynasty, is wrapped in fine cloth, as he holds symbols of sovereignty – the flail and crook. 

The inscriptions around the bases of the statues were intended to invoke ‘Isis, mother of the god, great in magic, mistress of the Two Lands’, and ‘Osiris who presides in the west, great god, lord of Ro-Setaou’. Following his judgment of the deceased, Osiris could grant wishes for a peaceful arrival in the netherworld, while Isis gives life – the carved life symbol reveals her to be a magician stronger than death. This divine couple belonged to a sumptuous burial and would have ensured perpetual protection for the person with whom they were interred. 

You can see these statues in the BP exhibition Sunken cities: Egypt’s lost worlds, opening 19 May 2016.

Supported by BP

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Repost from “Mohamed Abozeid” @mhamedabozeid for the #everydayegypt #followfriday #ff

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