A mask representing the goddess Hathor, made of more than a thousand Ancient Egyptian small faience ancient beads in colours of crimson, yellow, black, white, turquoise and green cream. As is common, the beads have been restrung (as the ancient fibres did not survive the test of time sufficiently to carry the weight of the beads) into original configuration to reveal a beautiful and vibrant face.
Ptolemaic period: Circa 4th-1st century BC.

Dimensions 11 x 9.5 cms (4.5 x 3.7 ins)

Comp.: Piotr Bienkowski - Angela Tooley, Gifts of The Nile. Ancient Egyptian Arts and Crafts in Liverpool Museum (Liverpool, 1995) p. 68, pl. 103 (Liverpool Museum, inventory number

The mask, representing the face of the deceased, would have been attached to the wrappings of the mummy over the facial area to depict the deceased wearing the beard of Osiris, a symbol of his/her hope for reincarnation.


Masks of this type rose to popularity in the Late Period of Ancient Egypt. They likely had both a decorative and symbolic role, as the burial of the dead in Ancient Egypt was an elaborate and ritualised process. Their unnaturalistic style and the similarities between beaded mummy masks in general make it unlikely that they were modelled after the face of the deceased individual; they seem to have more likely been generic images of a dead human face as the absence of expression and the blue-greenish skin complexion could indicate. However, such masks have also been interpreted as visual representations of the god Osiris – himself also a dead being – frequently depicted in the tombs with an identical skin-colour.

Egyptian faience funerary mask

SKU: J266
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