Headrest - ROM2016_15146_52



Medium:Wood and ivory, inscribed
Geography: Undetermined site, Egypt
Date: c. 1550-1069 BC
Period: 18th-20th Dynasty, New Kingdom
18.8 x 10.5 cm
Object number: 910.81.12
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

This wooden and ivory headrest was made for an Overseer of Gardeners named Daia.

This style of wooden headrest was popular throughout most of Egypt's dynastic history.  Like a modern pillow, it supports the head during sleep. Its height permits circulation of air between the neck and the sleeping surface, bed or mat.  Such a headrest would have been placed on the bed during life, and in the coffin after death. 

Headrests had an apotropaic function as well a practical one.  They were sometimes decorated with images of deities or magical spells to protect the sleeper from decapitation in this world or the next.  Spell 166 of the Book of the Dead, "spell for a headrest," assures the deceased that "your head head will not be taken from you afterwards, your head shall not be taken from you forever."  Amulets in the form of small stone headrests were commonly placed within mummy wrappings in the Late Period, when actual headrests were very seldom put into the coffin.

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