A question of gravity, currency, and gay flappers or majestic lappets?
Once the cloth covering of the nemes crown and its ponytail was complete I encountered my next obstacle. Under the added weight of fabric, cords and the hollow numchuck form, the crown kept falling back. It wouldn’t sit straight or actually stay on. I had to balance the weight of the front of the crown with that of the back.
The uraeus and vulture on the forehead alone didn’t solve the problem.I decided to attach the beard to the front of the form with hat elastic. This was the trick.
I wondered whether the ancient Egyptians had the same problem? Did Pseusennes I (1047-1001 BCE, 21st Dynasty) have the same problem?
Are those pencil-line side burns sported by Pseusennes, stylized beard straps meant to balance the weight of the crown?
Now that my crown was sitting squarely in place it should have looked right, but it didn’t. There was something about the lappets – the long flappy bits that hang by the side of the pharaoh’s face. Flappy, they shouldn’t have been. Stiff, triangular – pyramidal, in histoy they appear to rigidly frame the face before reaching down over the shoulders from the chin. There is no movement – no flow of diaphanous fabric (okay, I realise this is Ancient Egypt, not Ancient Greece, but was everything as stiff as their statues would indicate?)
The lappets of my crown didn’t unerringly frame my son’s face. They didn’t necessarily sit obediently, implacably on his shoulders – they twisted and curled. They needed the disciplinary action of a hard rod. Several actually. I set to work adding rods through the shoulder section of the lappet. I did the lower portion only, wanting to make sure the weight of the crown stayed forward and believing this was the minimum required to solve my dilemma. Time poor, I added a coin to help weigh them down – something that is done in costuming now and again.
Coins are so convenient, smooth and readily available to use as clothing weights. Would the Ancient Egyptians have used their currency as such a cheat? We are told they didn’t have coins – it was a barter economy. Dominic Perry of the Ancient Egypt History Podcast has suggested that linen may have been used instead of coins. Now I couldn’t cheat with linen but what about a few heavy beads? Beads have been used for bartering in Africa for centuries. Could the Ancient Egyptians also have used them as money? Would Ancient Egyptian seamstresses weighed down their clothing with beads?
Now that I had weighed down my flapping lappets, they towed the line. Did the Ancient Egyptian crown makers need rods for their lappets? Is that why the nemes crown was stripped?
Something started niggling at me. Gold rods low on lappets, lapis locks and lapidary allusions . . . King Khafre! my next post.
Death Mask of Pseusennes I, the Silver Pharoah (1047-1001 BCE 21st Dynasty)
D.Denisen CC BY-SA
King Khafre Statue