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Ancient Egyptian Accessories

The sun and heat required the Egyptians to pay considerable attention to their skin and appearance for good health reasons as much as vanity. Egyptians frequently bathed, almost several times a day. Unguents and oils were applied to the skin by both sexes. One popular mixture was made of plant extracts mixed with a cat, crocodile, and hippo fat.
 
 Eye makeup was regularly used to protect from the glare of the sun and disease-bearing insects. Red ocher was applied to the lips and cheeks for the same reason women use makeup today.Hair was a special problem. It was hot, hard to keep clean and easily infested with lice. Many solved the problem by shaving their heads and wearing a wig.

Ancient Egyptian Accessories
Ancient Egyptian Accessories

Ancient Egyptian Accessories
 
The wig could be raised on small pads to allow a flow of air between the scalp and the hair, and, of course, they never turned grey or bald. Women who kept their hair were told they could enhance its natural color by rubbing in a mixture of oil and the boiled blood of a black cat or bull. Ancient Egyptian attire, barring the nobility's garments, was simple and unadorned. 
 
Color and wealth were displayed through accessories, mainly jewelry, which both men and women wore. The simple white pleated clothing was often richly enhanced with wide collars made of shells, beads, flowers, and precious stones set in gold - a style that originated during the Old Kingdom. However, these decorative pieces were only a sample of the range of jewelry available.
 
Jewelry was part of ancient Egyptian wardrobe since before the Dynasties, and Egyptians had mastered jewelry making. Necklaces, armlets, bracelets, and anklets were made of gold, coral, pearl, agate, onyx, and chalcedony. Silver was the substance of the gods' bones and was mainly used for ornamentation.
 
 Accessories also had religious or political significance. The pharaohs' regalia were highly symbolic. The cobra, worn on both the crown and the hood-like headdress, was a symbol exclusive to kings in Egypt. And so was the ankh, which was a sacred sign of life. The crook and flail represented authority over the land and the people. Amulets, such as scarab beetles, were worn in life and buried with the dead for protection.
 
 
 Flowers were often used as adornments, not only for their beauty but also for their sacred qualities. Archeologists have found mummies wearing collars of flowers. These were often used in religious ceremonies.
 
 Even wigs formed an integral part of ancient Egyptian accessories. Both men and women wore these wigs. They had both a functional and aesthetic purpose. Because of the heat and the habitual preoccupation with cleanliness, royalty and the nobility shaved their heads and wore wigs made of real hair.
 
 The poor, on the other hand, wore wigs made of wool. Cleopatra is known to have possessed wigs in several hair shades. Men wore wigs mainly for religious events.
 
 Before the 9th century B.C., there is little evidence of footwear being worn by either kings or priests nor in depictions of deities. However, by 814 B.C., sandals appeared. They consisted of two straps and a sole and protected the feet from the hot desert sand while keeping them cool.
 
 Both men and women wore the same type of sandals, made in a spiral technique using grass and clean palm leaves, papyrus, wood, and goatskin. Shoes were for indoor wear; they would be carried during a journey and put on when a party arrived at their destination.


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