CULTURE: Ancient Egypt
PERIOD: New Kingdom - Late Period, 1550 - 323 BC
SIZE: Height 19.7 cm, width 18.5 cm.
PRICE: 1,500 Euros.
PROVENANCE: From a private European collection.
CONDITION: In a good state of preservation.
This headrest, with its simple elegance, is made up of two pieces. The lower of the two is made up of the base and the body of the object and the upper part is where the head would rest.
Of simple lines, this is an object for daily use. Most of the funerary headrests were decorated with images of gods who would protect the owner while asleep, and also with inscriptions with the name and titles of the deceased. These more elaborate ones, in alabaster, limestone or wood of a high quality, were made up of different pieces, on a larger scale, complicating their use and thus to be used as votive elements among the funerary goods. This type of headrest was reserved for the elite, for high dignitaries, while the piece in question, of a size adequate for its purpose, was for daily use. The arched form of the part to support the head not only guaranteed a relatively comfortable position during sleep, but also allowed air to circulate around the head, an added advantage in a hot, dusty climate like that of Egypt. However, given the rigidity of the object, it would seem to be more likely that it was for votive use also.
These objects appeared in the Old Kingdom and lasted until the last years of Egyptian civilization. Such was the development of the concept that they are still produced and used in certain tribes in Africa. The moment of splendour for headrests was in the Middle Kingdom, when every sarcophagus had to contain a headrest to accompany the deceased. It was considered an integral part of the grave goods.