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Did the Ancient Egyptians really wear perfume cones?
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EgyptianEyes
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:08 pm    Post subject: Did the Ancient Egyptians really wear perfume cones? Reply with quote

Many tomb paintings show people at banquits wearing perfume cones on their heads but some people say that they didn't really wear them and it was just a way of showing that they were wearing perfume

Is this true or did the Egyptians actually wear perfume cones on their heads?
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Osiris II
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as I know, they actually did wear perfumed cones, usually made of scented oils in fats, which would melt during a party and saturate the wig.
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Hekat
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Funnily enough there have been a lot of discussions about this subject locally. It came up during discussions about theses & it was mentioned that somebody had just done a thesis on this subject, which I believe was due to be published Confused
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is one of these things which are difficult to find archeological proof of it. But I believe that in certain paintings actually you can see the fat melting, or at least can be interpreted like that. So I guess they actually wore these.
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CPRSven
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2010 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don’t buy it at all. Have you seen the size of these fat cones shown in paintings? I honestly can’t believe people would be sitting at banquets with these large cones on top of their wigs. I remember somebody tried to duplicate these cones and couldn’t get them to melt. And if they did melt as they supposedly did, you’d either have everyone’s expensive wigs and pleated linen garments soiled with this fat and fragrance combination, or more likely you’d hear plop, plop, plop, and everyone’s fat cones would be lying on the ground next to them.

In these banquet scenes you frequently see flowers (water lilies or “lotuses”) draped over people’s wigs. Do you think the ancient Egyptians really had large flowers like this attached to the tops of their wigs while dining? I don’t. I think these flowers were merely a way of representing that the person was under the influence of the narcotic effects of the flower.

Similarly, I think these well-to-do Egyptians could acquire fragrance cones that looked like the ones depicted, but where much smaller. They’d put a bit on their fingers and rub it on their bodies. The much larger cones shown on their heads were just a way of showing how good everybody smelled. I don’t have any evidence of this, but it makes a lot more sense to me than the usual story about partying Egyptians sitting there with fat melting on top of their wigs and running down their bodies and clothes.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Did the Ancient Egyptians really wear perfume cones? Reply with quote

EgyptianEyes wrote:
Many tomb paintings show people at banquits wearing perfume cones on their heads but some people say that they didn't really wear them and it was just a way of showing that they were wearing perfume

Is this true or did the Egyptians actually wear perfume cones on their heads?


Yes, as far as i am aware this is correct. We do see depictions of Cones being worn during events by women only. It, as far as i know, is not just a symbolic reference to wearing perfume.

Its a vision i have always found to be fascinating and would love to see how practical (or not) it would be to reproduce some of these scenes today. One thing i cannot answer is how they were fixed onto the head/hair/wig.

CPRSven- just a thought but in your post you say:
Quote:
but it makes a lot more sense to me than the usual story about partying Egyptians sitting there with fat melting on top of their wigs and running down their bodies and clothes

It is the "usual story" because it is a scene we see again and again and therefore suggests that the cone practice was something that actually happened. We cannot always buy into the Egyptians way of doing things as some of their practices were odd in comparision to the way we do things. This doesn't mean that it didn't happen though. If a quick lick of the finger and a dab of the cone was enough to fragrance a person, then why did the Egyptians not portray this in their artwork?

Does anyone know how the cones were "fixed"?

Thanks,

Stuart Tyler.
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Styler78
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Did the Ancient Egyptians really wear perfume cones? Reply with quote

EgyptianEyes wrote:
Many tomb paintings show people at banquits wearing perfume cones on their heads but some people say that they didn't really wear them and it was just a way of showing that they were wearing perfume

Is this true or did the Egyptians actually wear perfume cones on their heads?


Yes, as far as i am aware this is correct. We do see depictions of Cones being worn during events by women only. It, as far as i know, is not just a symbolic reference to wearing perfume.

Its a vision i have always found to be fascinating and would love to see how practical (or not) it would be to reproduce some of these scenes today. One thing i cannot answer is how they were fixed onto the head/hair/wig.

CPRSven- just a thought but in your post you say:
Quote:
but it makes a lot more sense to me than the usual story about partying Egyptians sitting there with fat melting on top of their wigs and running down their bodies and clothes

It is the "usual story" because it is a scene we see again and again and therefore suggests that the cone practice was something that actually happened. We cannot always buy into the Egyptians way of doing things as some of their practices were odd in comparision to the way we do things. This doesn't mean that it didn't happen though. If a quick lick of the finger and a dab of the cone was enough to fragrance a person, then why did the Egyptians not portray this in their artwork?

Does anyone know how the cones were "fixed"?

Thanks,

Stuart Tyler.
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Styler78
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Did the Ancient Egyptians really wear perfume cones? Reply with quote

EgyptianEyes wrote:
Many tomb paintings show people at banquits wearing perfume cones on their heads but some people say that they didn't really wear them and it was just a way of showing that they were wearing perfume

Is this true or did the Egyptians actually wear perfume cones on their heads?


Yes, as far as i am aware this is correct. We do see depictions of Cones being worn during events by women only. It, as far as i know, is not just a symbolic reference to wearing perfume.

Its a vision i have always found to be fascinating and would love to see how practical (or not) it would be to reproduce some of these scenes today. One thing i cannot answer is how they were fixed onto the head/hair/wig.

CPRSven- just a thought but in your post you say:
Quote:
but it makes a lot more sense to me than the usual story about partying Egyptians sitting there with fat melting on top of their wigs and running down their bodies and clothes

It is the "usual story" because it is a scene we see again and again and therefore suggests that the cone practice was something that actually happened. We cannot always buy into the Egyptians way of doing things as some of their practices were odd in comparision to the way we do things. This doesn't mean that it didn't happen though. If a quick lick of the finger and a dab of the cone was enough to fragrance a person, then why did the Egyptians not portray this in their artwork?

Does anyone know how the cones were "fixed"?

Thanks,

Stuart Tyler.
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stephaniep
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://australianmuseum.net.au/image/Ancient-Egyptian-funerary-cone/

There is a website devoted to theses cones, I can't remember where I saw it. I suppose the clay ones (stacked in tombs) represent the real ones. It seems hard to imagine walking around dripping fat, but maybe the wigs absorbed most of it. Presumably the fat could be washed out of the wigs, otherwise it sounds like it was awful.
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Robson
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

According to the website below, no trace of fat had been found in any New Kingdom wig, pointing out to a possible pictorial symbolic meaning to the cones.

http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/timelines/topics/cosmetics.htm
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Ranoferhotep
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’ve been doing some research on the net, and opinions are divided. Some think it was unpractical en thus the depictions are made that way to show they were “perfumed”. A well known scene showing female musicians wearing these cones, with slightly bended heads, seems indeed strange, one would think they easily could fell off. Also, when you are eating I don’t think you want perfumed fat dripping in to your dinner.

About the washing of the wigs, there I don’t see much problem, the wigs were worn by upper-class who had staff that tended to these wigs and made sure that they were washed, brushed, etc..

The main question are, were they as large as they are depicted, and how would you keep them attached to the wig?
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Montuhotep88
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe they were just paper party hats! Laughing

Out of curiosity... the "scented cones of fat" are so well-entrenched in the writings about life in ancient Egypt that I'm not sure who originally drew this conclusion. I know at least one Egyptologist (forget who, but it might have been Lise Manniche) maintained that it was merely a visual symbol to indicate "perfume," but that's not a majority opinion.

Anyone know who first decided they were scented cones of fat and what the evidence for that conclusion was?
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 2:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Did the Ancient Egyptians really wear perfume cones? Reply with quote

Styler78 wrote:
We do see depictions of Cones being worn during events by women only.


Not really

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anneke
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In an article by Lisa Manniche this is said:
Quote:
In tomb scenes depicting banquets on the occasion of annual funerary festivals, guests appear (Cherpion 1994) to be balancing cones of unguent (fig. 10) on top of their heads, though this is probably an indication from the artist that the guests were heavily perfumed with otherwise invisible scent. Scent played a major part in the erotic imagination of the Egyptians at many levels, from love poems to theogamy tales where the identity of a god is revealed through the perfume he exudes at the crucial moment (Sethe 1933: Urk. IV: 219, 13).

From: UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology. Article available for download here

In the bibliography she mentions:
Cherpion, Nadine 1994 Le "cône d'onguent," gage de survie. Bulletin de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale 94, pp. 79 - 106.

The symbolism makes me wonder. The lotus is supposed to be related to rebirth and fertility I think. Could the cone also represent the mound of creation?
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For a picture of a woman head buried at Amarna with a cone -shaped object on her head see at the Download Horizon newsletter Issue 7, Spring 2010 PDF (Amarna Project) page three.
http://www.amarnaproject.com/documents/pdf/horizon-newsletter-7.pdf
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