Mummy Brown Cyberspace

Mummy brown [paint] was originally made in the 16th and 17th centuries from white Pitch (resin), Myrrh, and the ground-up remains of Egyptian mummies, both human and feline…  It fell from popularity in the early 19th century when its composition became generally known to artists.

Mummy brown was produced up into the 20th century until the supply of available mummies was exhausted.

When asked to describe how I relate to the internet, an old story about the creation of an unusual paint color popped into my head. Mummy Brown is a very useful paint–a rich, violet-toned earthy color– but as soon as its contents became known, many artists demanded that it be regulated because it was thought to carry foreign diseases. (One artist is even said to have given all of his paintings a Christian burial upon learning that “Mummy Brown” was actually made from Egyptian mummies.)

Maybe it’s just because I hate to waste time, and unknowledgeable using the internet seems to sap up time–whatever the reason, spending time online is a bit unsavory to me. I use Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr because they’re useful–but I’d rather be talking to people face-to-face. Or painting, even if it’s with Mummy Brown paint.

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4 thoughts on “Mummy Brown Cyberspace

  1. This is an intriguing first post. This is totally new information to me. It makes for a fascinating story. Thanks for sharing it.

    I also appreciate your thoughts on the tendency for so many to waste so much time online. That is a thorny issue.

    On a tech note, I notice that your links are broken. If you go back to edit mode, can try re-entering them. Somehow your blog URL got placed in before the wiki entries in the link addresses.

  2. That’s a really interesting and creepy story. It seems like a shame that people would grind up such precious anthropological relics like that.

    You write mostly about people who were repulsed when they found out the true contents of the paint. Are there any artists or collectors that you know of that actively seek out works made of this paint? They seem like they’d be collectors items in a way, because of both their brutality and rarity.

  3. Thanks for the responses!
    Professor Lockman–I didn’t mean to make those links at all, thanks for pointing them out.

    Roundhouseslap–At the time when mummy brown was being manufactured, they were actually both common and inexpensive. I don’t know if they are easily tracable enough to be collectable (it’s a very innocuous color!), but I’ll see if I can find out. 🙂

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