This Ancient Egyptian woman (Queen Kawit) is having her hair (or wig) done whilst sipping a little cup of something, a scene not unfamiliar to anyone who has visited Toni & Guy’s chain of current hairdressing salons, except the mirror would be fixed in front of you, instead of you having to hold in your hand. Plus ça change, plus la même chose — the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Next, of course — the makeup. A Servant hands her Mistress a mirror and a Kohl-Stick, the black eye-outliner still beloved of Arab (and Goth) girls today. It is applied (very carefully of course) to the thin strip INSIDE the lashes, that rests against the eyeball and has a definite, sometimes rather startling, effect.
In this image of a present-day girl, as well as the stylised Eyebrows and the Eyeliner, you can clearly see that Kohl has been applied to the thin strip of flesh between the eyeball itself and the lashes.
The Ankh was the Ancient Egyptian’s Symbol of Immortality, the sublime union of Masculine and Feminine, Sexual Power, of Conception and Growth, Healthiness and Strength as well as the Sun and of our own very being.
It was also thought of as Charm to ward off all kinds of evil, rather like a depiction of St. Christopher is sometimes regarded by travellers to this day, over 3,000 years later.
Your-Mirror may only be a rectangle or a circle, it certainly isn’t Ankh shaped, but as you gaze at yourself in it, spare a thought for that other individual, Tut-ankh-a-mun who, no doubt also studied his appearance in his mirror and although a boy King and venerated as a god, only lived to reach the tender age of 18 years.
The Ancient Greeks c 800 BC to 146 AD – also had highly-polished bronze mirrors, like the Ancient Egyptians. This is a high-class, richly-decorated, stand-alone version, where the rich patina is now it would once have been reflective, polished bronze.
Ancient Greek women, too, were quite obsessed with their appearance, judging by the number of times they are depicted looking at themselves in hand mirrors.
This one seems to be saying something like “If I just tuck this little piece in here… it’ll be perfect!”
Aglianice the Astronomer c 200 bc
Although this may look as though the servant is saying “Ready for your beads, madam?” to which her Mistress responds “Sure, but WHY is my mirror floating away?” this is, in fact, Aglaonice, an astute woman pioneer astronomer who lived in ancient Greece around 200 BC.
Her ability to predict Lunar Eclipses was renowned and is mentioned by Plutarch, Pluto and Apollonius, A pity that the prejudiced men of the period doubted her skills because of her gender and called her a Witch. Plus ca change, plus la meme chose.
I am an ex Film Chief Makeup Artist and TV Makeup Supervisor. Following the purchase of a Sinclair ZX80 computer, I first taught myself to program in Sinclair SuperBASIC.
After taking a Distance-Learning Course in C Programming I eventually became part of the Data Management Team at LeasePlan UK. They are the world's largest supplier of Leased Company Cars.
Having spent over half of my working life peering intently into all-too-often dimly-lit mirrors, I feel I have finally found my niche in your-mirror.co.uk.