I am writing this as I am travelling in my time machine. I know how important it is to keep a diary of happenings. The machine is making strange rattling noises, because I forgot to clean its aching joints this morning. It’s an old contraption, after all. Hullo! Where am I? I thought I was visiting ancient India, but this decidely looks like a pyramid. Oops! Looks like I have reached ancient Egypt. Never mind, as they say – enjoy!

The clock in the time machine tells me that we have reached almost 7000 years back. We are walking down the street of Memphis, the capital of ancient Egypt.

A man with a belly, wearing a pleated skirt and a robe over it just passed by. He must be a wealthy man. So, even in ancient Egypt, it is pretty easy to make out who’s who and which part of society he or she belongs to. In contrast, see that man breaking stones, wearing a loin cloth.

What’s this! Some women with elaborate hair-dos are wearing beaded dresses or pleated skirts with a long robe. They seem as if they belong to the upper class of Egyptian society.

Dress like an Egyptian
Dress like an Egyptian

The texture of their clothes is fine. It is linen, woven with yarn made from the flax plant. The higher up in society you go,
the finer is the texture of the linen used – woven so finely that the cloth can even pass through a ring!

The ones wearing plain short skirts are the slave girls. I don’t think I will be able to see the king and queen’s decorative ceremonial clothing, with feathers and sequins, as I have read somewhere. As they say, you can’t have everything.

Their clothing style is chosen for comfort in the hot dry climate and children have a good way of keeping cool. They are running around naked to escape the heat in this blistering summer. The scorching sun is making me feel uncomfortable. I think I want to go back home now.

Back from the past

I am back home safe and sound. No mistake this time. I have not landed in Mughal India, but in the power-less household of the 21st century. But there are a few facts I want to check. For instance, I want to know more about the women with elaborate hairstyles.

Okay, so that’s it. My books and the Net tell me that just as for us today, hair was a major concern for the ancient Egyptians. Thousands of years ago, they were as anxious about thinning, balding and graying hair as we are today.

Their paintings, specimens of combs, hairpins, wigs, and even poetry reveal their concern for hair today, gone tomorrow, and for looking good as per the standards of their times.

Despite their obsession with thick and long hair, many men and women also preferred to shave their heads bald, replacing their natural hair with a wig. Wigs were popular amongst the upper and middle classes, the wealthier presumably maintaining a greater selection of wigs.

Hair was also a popular place for ornaments and amulets; small fish, in particular, were attached to children’s hair, according to popular belief, for protection against the dangers of the river Nile.

545 words | 5 minutes
Readability: Grade 6 (11-12 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: features
Tags: #india, #machines, #egypt, #society

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