Techniques for Egyptian Eyes: Diplomacy and the Transmission of Cosmetic Practices between Egypt and Kerma

In: Journal of Egyptian History
Author: Carl Walsh1
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  • 1 Postdoctoral Fellow, Barnes Foundation
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This article examines the context and distribution of Egyptian eye cosmetic equipment, kohl pots and sticks, found at Classic Kerma (c. 1650–1550 BCE) sites in Upper Nubia in modern-day Sudan. It is argued that these cosmetic assemblages, which included the body techniques, etiquettes, and embodied experiences involved in its application, display, and removal, were forms of courtly habitus adopted from Egypt. Diplomacy is suggested to be the primary process through which these objects and practices were transmitted, as diplomatic visits facilitated the performance of court habitus in intercultural encounters. Kerman agency in consuming and adapting these forms of habitus were negotiated through personal relationships and interactions with Egyptian diplomats that worked to create shared forms of interregional court identities.

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