History: Kohl

1 Posted by On November 22, 2013 In History

Worn as far back as the pre-historic periods of Ancient Egypt, Kohl is the earliest manifestation of what we think of as eyeliner. Thought to provide protection against eye ailments, the harsh desert sun and the evil eye, traditional kohl was made by grinding galena (lead sulfide) and other ingredients. The name “kohl” comes from the Akkadian word for “cosmetic.” Equipment for the preparation of kohl was almost always included in Egyptian tombs, from small palettes and sticks in the tombs of the poor to ornately carved and luxuriously bejeweled containers in the tombs of noblemen and women. Often paired with green lids (created by grinding green malachite) in Ancient Egypt, kohl continued to be widely used in South Asia, the Middle East, parts of Africa and India long after the Ancient Egyptians faded into history; though it was not introduced to the West until the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in the 1920s. Screen stars of the silent era popularized the Egyptian-influenced look by lining their eyes with thick, smudged kohl. Though still made traditionally in parts of South Asia by dipping a cloth in sandalwood paste, burning the cloth and mixing the ash with oil, true kohl is unavailable in America due to FDA regulations. Of course there are plenty of kohl-style pencils that create a similar look without the mystical and medicinal properties inherent in pure kohl.

Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun

 

Kohl Pots
Ancient Egyptian Granite Kohl Pots and Sticks, 1800BC to 200BC

 

Sources: Wikipedia, Tour Egypt

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