Saturday, July 15, 2017

Brooklyn Museum: A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, a tomb was not simply a place for the burial of remains, but rather the site of quite literal rebirth. Here, the individual's soul was born again, into the afterlife. But surprisingly, the ancient Egyptians believed that to make this rebirth possible for a woman, it was necessary that she briefly turn into a man, in order to conceive the fetus of her reborn self. Guided by new research inspired in part by feminist scholarship, our collection exhibition A Woman's Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt explores how this process was thought to take place.

The broad collar, or wesekh, likely originated with an ancient tradition of making necklaces from flowers. Here we see it reproduced in cartonnage, or plaster, to be placed on a mummy. Flower imagery was important in tombs because it had a connotation of rebirth; flowers die and come back each year. 

Cartonnage in the Shape of a Broad Collar, ca. 1st century B.C.E. Linen and gesso applique, Object without mat: 11 15/16 x 9 ¼ in. (30.4 x 23.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum Collection on veiw in A Woman's Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt
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