Ancient Egypt Funerary Sandals Needed for Afterlife
By: Antonia Wagura / Arab America Contributing Writer
I find ancient Egyptian burials very interesting. From getting buried with your wife, slaves, and property to wearing funerary costumes. Egyptians are known for their rich and ritualistic burials whether it was the pharaoh or a noble man in a modest rock-cut tomb, the items that were buried with them were intended to facilitate an easy afterlife.
Ancient Egyptians had an ornate set of burial practices that they believed had to be done to ensure their immortality after death. Some of these practices include mummifying the body, casting spells, and burying with masks and sandals. In addition, burials with specific tomb goods are thought to be needed in the afterlife.
Among these items were funerary masks and sandals, which are necessary for both the living and the dead. These funerary sandals could be made of leather, or papyrus, and the most magnificent ones that were buried with royals were often crafted in shimmering gold.
Importance of the Sandals?
Egyptians believed that funeral sandals provided comfort in journeys of the afterlife. The sandals allowed the deceased to walk in the shoes of the ancients. It served as honor and gave the deceased a good afterlife. Furthermore, their purpose was to establish a relationship with the spirit world.
The New Kingdom
Royals in the eighteenth dynasty placed furniture as well as clothing and other items that they believed the deceased will need in the afterlife. These were objects that were used for daily life on earth. Beds, headrests, chairs, stools, sandals, jewelry, musical instruments, and wooden storage chests were present in these tombs.
The average and poor only placed weapons and cosmetics in their tombs; however, the eighteenth dynasty is the last period in which Egyptians included multiple objects in their daily lives. Beginning of the Nineteenth Dynasty, tombs had fewer items.
The Eighteenth to the Nineteenth dynasty formed a line in funerary traditions. The eighteenth dynasty remembered the immediate past in its traditions whereas the nineteenth dynasty anticipated the traditions of the late period.
Some of the Royals in Funerary Sandals
Outside the chambers of the tomb of King Tut-Ankh-amen, who ruled from 1336-1327BCE, there are two statues of the king wearing shoes with a golden ring.
In the tomb of the boy pharaoh, there was a shield decorated with figures wearing Assyrian sandals. The mummy had sandals of embossed gold with toes curled gently upwards in Hittite style.
The queen, Ankhesenamon, was wearing simple sandals which were outlined according to her foot and attached to the foot with a single string. The actual sandals are on exhibit in the British Museum.
In addition, funeral sandals were found in a mummy case of Harsiotef, Kushite king of Meroe. The sandals had a cloth lining, which was painted with a figure inscribed in hieroglyphics. The sandals are also currently housed in the British Museum.
The 18th-century ruler buried his wives in sandals of sheet gold, engraved and embossed to mimic the design of luxury weather pieces. Among the royal burials, these rich golden sandals were occupied by small golden caps for the fingers and toes. The caps are known as finger and toe stalls. They protected the extremities of the mummy during burial.
Egyptians believed that the dead were supposed to be buried as complete bodies. Non-royal mummies were also buried in stalls; however, the stalls were of lesser metals and even clay. Today most stalls date to the 18th dynasty of the new kingdom. The period from about 1550 to 1290 BCE.
Average people, on the other hand, were buried with sandals made from braided papyrus or leather. A sturdy sole was attached to the foot straps much like today’s sandals.
Today in Egypt most extant sandals are funerary, preserved underground in tombs.
Multiple factors can be expressed using the ancient Egyptian funerary practices, especially the funerary sandals. Be it social status, territorial or cultural beliefs linked to the afterlife. Every community has its funerary practices and ancient Egypt is a perfect example.
The funerary sandals are just but an example of the magnificent customs of ancient Egypt. The royal would be buried in gold sandals with toe stalls and the average man would be buried in papyrus or leather much like the sandals of the living. However, the purpose was the same, to allow them to walk in the shoes of the ancients.
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