Egyptian Schist cosmetic palette, Predynastic Period, 3rd millennium BC

Material:  Stone
Conservation:  Good condition
Material:  Shale
Dimensions:  8 x 11 cm
Provenance:  European private collection / Galería arqueológica, Spain, 2014 / This piece is accompanied by an export certificate from the Spanish Ministry of Culture No. 2020/00673 with date 14/02/2020 and certificate of authenticity.
Exhibited:  “Deciphering Ancient Egypt Tutankhamun”, Casa de la Ciencia (Seville, 15/09/2019-15/07/2020) / Ifergan Collection, Málaga (2018-2020)
Ref fcr036 Category

The main purpose of any cosmetic palette would be practical, as it would serve as a basis for crushing various minerals, such as galena or malachite (with which the popular kohol was made) and convert them into facial paints. However, numerous specimens found in tombs reveal that they were never used, so it is possible to distinguish between merely functional palettes and ceremonial palettes (although they could have been used exceptionally). The latter type could be included in the repertoire of prestigious goods held by the Egyptian elite. Another type of pallets made of the same material are those of a political type. They represented exploits of the peoples and their leaders, being the best known the Palette of Narmer, in which for the first time appears represented the pharaoh with the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, being able to determine at this time the birth of the First Egyptian Dynasty.

However, some egyptologists such as H.G. Fischer Rolling Eyes have suggested that the fact that the palette had once served its “functional” purpose did not in any way exclude its magical character, since the resulting cosmetic could be destined to “embellish” some kind of sacred fetish (an opinion I fully share). In the same vein, K.M. Cialowicz, who interprets the presence of animals on some palettes as a propitiatory image of the hunting of these animals, pronounces himself. It is also worth remembering that, in cultures of mythical thought, body paintings have a strong hunting role, if not an initiatory one.

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