Eye paint

Eye paint.jpg

The Egyptians used green eye paint (made from malachite) and black eye paint (made from galena). Both types are known from as early as the Predynastic Period, but the black variety was by far the most important. Green eye paint was not used much after the New Kingdom. Both the raw material, kept in little linen or leather bags, and the ready-made eye paint in the form of paste or powder, kept in tubes, vases or other containers have been found in tombs. It was put around the eye either using a finger or an applicator, a little stick of ivory, bone, wood or metal. This was dipped into the paste or else into water and then into the powdered eye paint. The raw materials for both types of eye paint were found in Egypt, malachite in the eastern desert and Sinai, and galena near Aswan and the Red Sea. Nevertheless, eye paint was also imported from other countries, as is illustrated, for example, in a well-known wall painting in a tomb from the Middle Kingdom at Beni Hassan. It shows a caravan of 37 Asiatics bearing (black) eye paint. The scene has been linked with the entry of the Children of Israel into Egypt, particularly because the leader of the caravan is called Ibsha, a name that also appears in the Bible.