Cosmetic tool - ROM2018_16324_12


Cosmetic tool

Geography: Undetermined site, Egypt
Date: c. 1550-1295 BC
Period: 18th Dynasty, New Kingdom
12.5 × 2.9 × 0.6 cm
Object number: 909.80.517
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

Cosmetic tool, possibly used as a hair-curler or to arrange hair on a wig. The broad flat end of the tool is slightly concave on the inner side and convex on the outer cutting edge; it clearly could have functioned as a knife or razor to cut hair on the face or scalp.  The tool is made of two copper parts hinged together with small copper pin near one end.  A conical needle which tapers to a point fits scissor-like into a trough of knife handle. Similar cosmetic tools have been recovered from the New Kingdom site of Gurob.

How exactly these tools functioned is a bit of a mystery. If they were used as hair curlers, it would only be possible to wind a small amount of hair around the needle side;  there is no indication that the Egyptians curled either eye-lashes or beard hair. Nor is there any sign that the implements were heated which would limit their ability to produce curls. Wigs were popular among the Egyptian elite, however, and the tool may have been used to maintain a wig's proper appearance The broader side could have functioned as a razor, but one imagines it could have gotten in the way if the implement was used to curl hair (Rexine Hummel and S.B. Shubert).


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