Mummy Mask of Wendjebauendjed

This funerary gold mask originally covered the face of the mummy of Wendjebauendjed, an army general of Psusennes I. Colored glass paste forms the eyes and eyebrows. The general’s face is idealized and detailed, with a slight smile.

The mask covered the face, neck, and ears. It ended at the forehead where six small-perforated tongues allowed it to be fixed to the head of the mummy. The inlaid eyes are made of glass paste in different colors. The nose is perfect in form, and the lips are narrow and fleshy. The ears are not symmetrical as the left one protrudes further than the right.

Mummy Mask of Wendjebauendjed
Mummy Mask of Wendjebauendjed. Photo: Sandro Vannini

Wendjebauendjed was an ancient Egyptian general, high dignitary and high priest during the reign of king Psusennes I of the 21st Dynasty. He is mainly known for his intact tomb found by Pierre Montet inside the royal necropolis of Tanis (NRT III). The name “Wendjebauendjed” translates to “the one who endures and is stable.”

Wendjebauendjed’s face was covered by a golden mummy mask, and many other jewelry pieces were found inside the sarcophagus such as amulets and pectorals, rings, bracelets and gold statuettes; particularly remarkable are three fine bowls made from gold and silver, and a lapis lazuli statuette of Amun in his ram form. Outside the sarcophagus were also found many ushabtis and Wendjebauendjed’s four canopic jars.

General Wendjebauendjed was not a royal blood character, but a high priest of Khonsu and Chief of King’s Archers. In addition, he was invested with the important title of Superior of the Prophets-of-all-Gods, which seemed to us to be the one of the Minister of Cults. It was King Psusennes I who raised him to these high positions.

One of his most curious titles was that of ‘Unique-in-the-praise-of-the-greats’, whose task was to present the incumbents to the king at awards ceremonies. This eminent relative of one of the first kings of the 21st Dynasty had the privilege of being buried close to the one he had served with honor and loyalty.

Third Intermediate Period, 21st Dynasty, reign of Psusennes I, ca. 1047-1001 BC. From tomb NRT III at Tanis. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 87753