Monday, November 18, 2013

Talking Anubis and Making Masks

     Yesterday, we had a sold-out workshop for children at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University. During the first part of the program, I gave an "Anubis Speaks" tour through the galleries, focusing on some of the not so well-known depictions of the god of embalming.
     The one up top, for example, shows an atypical posture for the god. Instead of weighing hearts or presiding over a ceremony, Anubis seems to be throttling a snake, likely a representation of the evil monster Apophis. In his front hand he seems to be holding up a lotus flower cup, a symbol of renewal.
     Anubis is everywhere in the Egyptian galleries, from Old Kingdom coffins to Ptolemaic/Greek era mummy covers (right). 
     The kids particularly relished my detailed, gross talk on the actual process of mummification. After that, we moved onto the workshop part of the program--making masks!
     Artist Pam Beagle 
helped the kids create their three-dimensional black and gold beauties. While the kids were cutting the fancy black and gold paper, I reminded them that many of the rituals of mummification were performed by priests wearing similar masks. This made some of them cut even faster!
     The project required a lot of concentration and attention to details but the kids were up for the challenge.
     After-ward, a number of the kids asked me to sign their copies of Anubis Speaks!  The bloody paw-print stamp, I've been told, was a favorite part of my "autograph." 
      I was determined to make my own mask but didn't get to because I was assisting Pam and museum education manager, Nina West.  I'm not a visual artist, so my "help" ended up being more of the "fetching glue and patterns" variety. I took all the raw supplies home, though, determined to make my
very own jackal-headed mask of the god of embalming and death.
     I can't wait to make scary god-dog noises through the 3-D snout!
     Teachers, making Anubis masks is a fun activity. So is stuffing little felt hearts and weighing them against the feather of truth (which I conveniently bring with me!).
     Invite me to your schools/classrooms so we can enjoy the wonderful-strangeness of Ancient Egypt together!


Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

SO awesome!!! I want to be in your class!!! :) e

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Thanks, e! It was a lot of fun.