Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ancient Egyptian Cosmetics Workshop

Ancient Egyptian Cosmetics Workshop

On the second Saturday of every month, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum hosts a workshop that focuses on the history of ancient Egyptian cosmetics. Topics include the discovery and implementation of raw materials that were used as pigments, the transitions in tradition of cosmetic design and symbolism throughout ancient Egyptian culture and also the importance the roles of the gods and goddesses played in daily cosmetic application. We will also discuss the significance of personal hygiene, therapeutic and medicinal aspects of cosmetics application for the ancient Egyptian people.

The workshop is given by one of the museum docents and is complimentary with museum admission.

A Brief Introduction to Ancient Egyptian Cosmetics:

Cosmetics are as old as vanity, and there are clues to this left in the archaeological record. Excavations have unearthed cosmetics from some of the oldest burials in Egypt and continued right into modern times. The ancient Egyptian people had several reasons for applying cosmetics. One reason is that decorating their bodies with make-up would appease certain gods, especially the goddess Hathor, who was the goddess of beauty, love, and fertility.

Another reason for cosmetic application would have been a fairly practical use. Not only did they view cosmetics as making them beautiful, eyeliner may have been used as a prophylactic, aiding in the protection of one’s eyes from the hot, glaring desert sun.

Yet another example of why ancient Egyptians wore make-up was because of the cultural expectations of personal hygiene. People were expected to show the best version of themselves, especially priests and elite members of society, to not only the public but to the gods and goddesses as well. Keeping yourself clean and well groomed meant keeping parasites at bay and body odor to a minimum. Cosmetics application was the finishing touch to a well-groomed individual. Make-up was so important it's even referred to in the Book of the Dead, regarding the gods’ and goddesses’ questioning at the negative confession of the deceased. Chapter 125 states,

"They give their speech when they are pure, clean, dressed in fresh clothes, shod in white sandals, painted with eye-paint, anointed with the finest oil of myrrh."

Come to the museum on the second Saturday of every month at 12:30 pm, and have fun learning about a very important custom that was integral to ancient Egyptian culture and custom. We look forward to seeing you!

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