.Kohl is a preparation made in base of galena (lead sulfide) and other components, like malachite (a copper carbonate mineral) and amorphous carbon, cuprite, silicon, talc and hematite, usually mixed with animal fats.
Kohl pots from 1800 to 200 BC (Science Museum, London, UK)
Several kohl pots were found in Egyptian tombs during archaeological excavations, like the one of King Tutankhamun in Thebes, from 1325 BC. His funereal mask had lapis lazuli coloring the eyes, resembling the kohl he used in his life.
Since the most remote times eyelashes were smeared, dyed, and ornamented in order to give more expression to the eyes, or by magical or medicinal reasons. The most ancient testimonies we have of this practice are recorded in discoveries from 3,500 BC, in Ancient Egypt.
Men used to style their eyelashes more than women in Ancient Egypt. They believed that ointments used for that purpose worked as a way to scare away the influence of bad spirits. Also it was a way to recreate the image of Re, the Sun god. Even the children, at time of birth, had their eyelashes smeared, to strengthen their eyesight and to keep them away from the evil eye.
But, at the same time, the practice had medicinal purposes. Galena, one of the components used as an eye cosmetic, was very effective as an insect repellent and disinfectant. The weather conditions in the desertic Egyptian area were extremely dry and hot; the eyes makeup also contributed to protect the eyes from the sun glare.
Women believed that malachite, another component of the ointments, was provided by Hathor, the goddess of love, and it worked like an aphrodisiac.
Egyptian eyelashes were commonly darken in black or green tones, which created the "almond effect". They used to store their eye cosmetics in pots or glass jars. The most popular eyelash cosmetic was the Kohl.
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