Mask of Lady Thuya

The mummy mask of Tjuyu or Thuya is made of cartonnage covered with a thin layer of gold foil. When found it was completely covered with the remains of its linen shroud removed by the restorer. A few fragments of the shroud, now blackened with age, still adhere to the wig and part of the pectoral.

Thuya is depicted with idealized features. Her face is a squarish oval in shape and is framed by a three-part wig that leaves the ears exposed. The headdress is held in place by a diadem that can be seen below the shroud decorated with floral motifs, a lotus flower is placed above the forehead.

Mummy mask of Tjuyu/Thuya
Mummy mask of Tjuyu/Thuya

The eyes are elongated with the outlines and the eyebrows inlaid with blue glass paste in imitation of lapis lazuli. The white of the eyes is made from alabaster and the pupils from black glass paste.

A dot of red paint on the inside corners lends a degree of naturalness and vivacity on the gaze. The nose is small and straight and the corners of the mouth are set in a slight smile.

Around Thuya’s neck is a broad-collar necklace, its vivid colors realized in glass paste. It is fastened on the shoulders with two lotus flower clasps.

The innermost string of beads is composed of the nefer hieroglyphic symbols while the one below features a palmette motif. The other rows have beads in the form of more stylized floral motifs. As was traditionally the case, the outermost string is made up of drop beads.

What was Thuya known for?

Thuya is believed to be a descendant of Queen Ahmose Nefertari, and she held many official roles in the interwoven religion and government of ancient Egypt. She was involved in many religious cults; her titles included ‘Singer of Hathor’ and ‘Chief of the Entertainers’ of both Amun and Min.

Thuya was an ancient Egyptian noblewoman who was “Chief of the Harem of Amun and Min” at Akhmim, the capital city of the 9th Nome of Upper Egypt, the mother of Queen Tiye and great grandmother of King Tutankhamun.

New Kingdom, late 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III, ca. 1391-1353 BC. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 95254