of a women, painted in wax on wooden panels from Hawara and dating
to the Mid-2nd century AD. Manchester Museum.
These portraits can he
dated from the details of the painting technique, hairstyles, clothes,
and in the case of the women, the jewellery. In the 2nd century AD, two
necklaces were usually worn: a gold chain, and a string with roost
precious stones. In all the portraits, women also wear earrings.
The people depicted in
these portraits represent Greeks, Egyptians and those of other
Mediterranean origin. They occurred in the Faiyum at a period when there
was a large, prosperous population of immigrants who included veteran
soldiers and those engaged in commerce.
These portraits were
probably painted by itinerant artists living in the Faiyum. The panel,
made up of cypress, lime or sycamore wood, was prepared with a ground of
gypsum plaster or plaster of whiting and glue. The portrait was roughly
sketched on this in black or red paint. The paint, mad' from natural
mineral or vegetable pigments, wax then applied. As a medium for the
paint, either water and an adhesive material were used or, more often,
the pigment was ground and mixed with wax.
Some sources suggest that these portraits were
pre-mortem and would have occupied a place in the person house. Although the time of the painting may be true, there is a certain
melancholy about the pictures that suggests that these were not for