Alabaster has been used for centuries by several cultures, and so was by the Egyptians, who used this elegant stone to carve especially vessels of different dimensions, from the small kohl cosmetic containers, to larger bowls for specific precious liquids. The Egyptian Book of the Dead states in spell 125 that one should not speak unless “clean, dressed in fresh clothes, shod in white sandals, painted with eye-paint, anointed with the finest oil of myrrh”. Cosmetics were a large industry in Ancient Egypt, being produced professionally and sold in the market place. The Egyptians had recipes for many modern-day toiletries, including toothpaste, deodorant, sun cream, cosmetics, and perfume.
Egyptian New Kingdom Alabaster Vessel
An extremely well preserved Egyptian veined alabaster vessel, featuring a flattened, wide rim and a sinuous body with slightly carinated shoulders. The vessel comes with its original lid. The jar would have been used in antiquity to store kohl, which was applied by both Egyptian men and women, on their eyelids as protection against the glare of the sun. In addition to this practical use, outlining the eyes could also have been a way of drawing a protective amulet, such as the Wadjet Eye, right onto the skin. To make kohl, the galena was first ground up on a palette, with water or animal fat then added to create a paste. This paste would have adhered to the skin, with soot also added to produce a darker coloured kohl.
Period: New Kingdom Period
Condition: Very fine condition.