This time we are going to travel several thousand years back to Ancient Egypt to explore the fashion trends then. If you think the ‘now-mummies’ don’t care about fashion, then you are definitely wrong. Let’s start with the decoration of the head.
Ancient Egyptian people loved to wear wigs. There were two reasons for this: the first is the heat in the desert-- Since it was easy to get lice Ancient Egyptians who could afford wigs chose to cut their natural hair and wear wigs. The second reason why wigs pervaded was: Ancient Egyptians wished their hair never faded or withered. Since they believed healthy hair stood for youth and eroticism, wigs became their first choice. Ancient Egyptians were proud to wear wigs, because it was fashionable and practical, and of course not everyone was able to afford one.
If you pay a visit to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, you can see the wigs wore by Ancient Egyptians.
‘Nany’s wig was found in the inner coffin, lying by her head. It is made of braids of human hair, fastened at the top with a cord. The plaits were treated with beeswax to set them, and a layer of grease covers the whole wig.’
Both men and women from Ancient Egypt dug jewelries. Wealthy people were able to use gold or shell and other expensive materials to make all kinds of jewelries—necklaces, broad collars, ankle bracelets, earrings, and rings, etc. But there were also jewelries made of pottery and beads. The Metropolitan Museum of Art houses thousands of Ancient Egyptian handicrafts. When I visited the museum this March I was shocked by those exquisite jewelries produced four thousand years ago. For example, the two necklaces of the mummy—Wah (who was unwrapped in 1940) were beautiful: one was gold and the other silver.
The illustration of these necklaces tells us that:
‘The beads of the gold and silver necklaces are hollow; each bead is made of two hemispheres of hammered metal sheet that have been attached using a method akin to soldering. The seams have been burnished so as to be almost invisible. Ancient Egyptian jewelry of silver is relatively rare, because unlike gold, which was mined in Egypt, silver had to be imported.’
Something also impressive was the broad collar. Here are a few examples of broad collars demonstrated in Metropolitan Museum.
The illustrations said: ‘Broad collars were the most frequently worn pieces of jewelry among the royalty and elite in ancient Egypt.’
I am sure people who have seen the movie <Cleopatra> would be impressed by the make up of Cleopatra--The blue eyeshade and the emphatic black eye lines. In history, the Ancient Egyptians used plant extracts and minerals to make cosmetics. The color green came from malachite; black came from galena; red was derived from ochre. Though green was heavily used and welcomed, malachite was not a mineral that could be acquired locally. According to the introductions at Metropolitan Museum, malachite ‘came from deposits in the Eastern Desert and along the Red Sea coast.’
The technique of Ancient Egyptians to reserve things was unmatched-- a wig crafted four thousand years ago was not decayed. Considering the fact that wigs consist primarily of amino acids, the resolution of Ancient Egyptians to enter their next lives with perfect bodies amazed me. Next time we will explore the clothes and fabrics of Ancient Egyptians—it looks like clothes were more tightly related to social class.