Anthropoid Baked Clay Coffin Lid

Egypt and the Near East

14th – 10th Century BC

Clay, Pigment

The soft smile, with slightly parted lips, give an animation to the face that a first glance appears quite crude.  On closer inspection, the face is lively and charismatic.  What remains of the paint are outlines initially used to create a traditional Egyptian headdress, robes and eyes rimed with kohl. 

Anthropoid coffins are classified into two groups: the natural and the grotesque.  This piece falls into the latter category.  Researching anthropoid coffins evokes many questions: is the grotesque style actually a raw base upon which the traditional, highly stylized Egyptian imagery we are used to seeing, was built?  Were these coffins made in a particular area or “school” using a distinct method?