Hair and death in ancient Egypt
“Mourners shake and pull their hair on reliefs and paintings from ancient Egypt. They took part in funerary ceremonies in ancient Egypt, contributing to the dead’s resurrection in the afterlife. Hair played a clear role in these rites. In this publication Maria Rosa Valdesogo describes the relation between hair and these rites, and the role hair played in death in ancient Egypt. This book is the publication of her Phd research about the Hair in the funerary ceremony of ancient Egypt.
In many tombs from the New Kingdom mourning women gesticulated in the same way; in Thebes the tombs of Amenemhat (TT82), Minakht (TT87), Rekhmire (TT100) and Ineni (TT81), or the tomb of Renni in el-Kab were the most evident examples that it was a common practice in funerals of Ancient Egypt. Out of the burials, but always in the funerary context, there is also a scene from the funerary temple of Seti I in Dra Abu el-Naga, where the two mourners stand at both ends of the corpse shaking their manes of hair.
Such a common attitude could not be just a coincidence, or a theatrical exposure of pain, but it had to arise from a deeper reason related to the funeral rite. The importance of hair in mortuary context seemed to be real, since funerary texts also mentioned it constantly. Therefore, we had to search about its role in both symbolic and ceremonial spheres.
The Coffin Texts from the Middle Kingdom were the chosen manuscript as starting point, due to the big amount of allusions to the hair; therefore, the Pyramid Texts from the Old Kingdom and the Book of the Dead from the New Kingdom were considered more as support documents.
Summing up, funerary texts and iconography have been the main sources in this research about the hair in the funerary belief of Ancient Egypt.”
— Hair and death in ancient Egypt: The mourning rite in the times of the Pharaohs, by María Rosa Valdesogo (#aff)