In any collection of Egyptian statues and paintings you will notice how fashions in clothing and hairstyles changed over time. For their arrival in the next world, where they wanted to make a good impression and demonstrate the quality of afterlife they hoped to enjoy, men and women chose to have themselves portrayed in their best clothes with their hair, or more probably their wigs, arranged in the latest fashionable styles. In general, women tended to wear their hair long while men kept theirs short. The Egyptians considered longer hair to be a symbol of beauty and attractiveness.
The simplest Egyptian feminine hairstyle is now called the tripartite or three-part wig (see opposite). For this, long hair was centrally parted and gathered into three sections, one hanging down the back and the others tucked behind the ears to lie over the shoulders to the front. This was the style worn by both male and female deities, and was the traditional hairstyle for women of all classes, as shown by the hieroglyphs for ‘woman’ or ‘goddess’ and ‘queen’.
Throughout her tomb, Queen Nefertari, wife of Ramesses II, is shown wearing the tripartite wig under her royal crown, but in other places such as her Abu Simbel temple, where she is shown being blessed by the goddesses Hathor and Isis, she wears a less formal short wig (see top right).
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