Mummy Mask



Extraordinary rishi-style mummy mask of cartonnage with gilding. The name rishi means ‘feather’ in Arabic. It is used to refer to a particular type of coffin and mask with a feathered pattern and sometimes a small face. This style is thought to represent the wings of the ba bird (the person’s soul). It could also represent a winged deity like Horus or Isis. This rishi mask is decorated with the wings of a falcon surrounding a very small gold face. The very small face and feather pattern are characteristic of a style that appeared in the late 17th early 18th Dynasty. The deceased is wearing a many layered broad-collar of coloured beads. Suspended from the neck by a chain is a large pendant-winged scarab with outstretched wings. The lower part of the mask is inscribed with six columns of hieroglyphs that are an offering formula but the owner is not identified, as the final column where the name would have been written is left entirely blank. On the back of the mask is a goddess with outstretched wings with four blank columns at the right side. On each shoulder of the mask is a wedjat-eye of Horus within a rectangular frame. Painted on the inside of the mask are images of the goddesses Isis and Nephthys. Presented to the Museum by Joseph Mayer in 1867. Mayer had purchased the mask from Joseph Sams in 1850. It was acquired by Sams at the sale of Henry Salt's collection at Sotheby's, London, 1835, Lot 523. CONDITION NOTE 1998: Incomplete, surface cracked, some areas of loss, two very damaged areas, gilding is flaking on face, around damaged areas decoration is flaking, surface dirt, some discolouration; Conserved in 2005.