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The Ancient World and Fashion > Ancient Egypt

This solid gold burial mask comes from the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun (1332-1322 BCE). It shows the young king wearing the striped menes, with its twin symbols of the vulture and the cobra, and carrying his royal crook and flail.

Religion was central to ancient Egyptian society.The Egyptians believed that their land had originally been ruled by gods, whose power had passed directly to the pharaohs. So pharaohs and their families were treated like gods and wore highly elaborate ceremonial costumes. One of the most important elements of the pharaoh’s dress was his crown or headdress. Early kings often wore a red-and-white crown symbolizing the twoparts of their kingdom:red for lower Egypt and white for upper Egypt. Rulers of the New Kingdom wore abright blue crown like a battle helmet, reflecting their important role as a warrior. Later rulers, such as Tutankhamun, often wore a long, striped headdress called a menes.The meneswas usually decorated with the heads of the pharaoh’s twin protectors: the vulture and the cobra.

Egypt's Queen Nefertiti

In paintings and carvings, pharaohs are often shown holding the symbols of their office: the royal crook and flail.

The crook symbolized the pharaoh’s protection of his people, while the flail stood for the punishment of his enemies.


The pharaoh had many queens, but the chief queen was usually his sister or half-sister. She was believed to be agoddess and was dressed in astonishing splendor. Paintings and carvings showEgyptian queens wearing tall,jeweled headdresses, golden collars, armlets, and finger rings.

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