I was once a teacher in Cairo. I’ll tell you about that some other time – not now, since I’m still working through the PTSD and amoebic dysentery - but let’s just say for now that an unfortunate gaggle of rich Egyptian teenagers were under my care for two years. Most of the time, I hated the sorry little snots because they exposed my utter ineptitude in the classroom, both as a teacher and as a disciplinarian (Mazhar Abdel Dayem – if you’re out there, I’m going to kick your ass, and kick it good). Their saving grace was that some of my students – the ones that didn’t display distinct signs of inbreeding – were extremely beautiful. They looked - to me, at least – like living Fayum portraits.
Painted in Greco-Roman style from the first to third century A.D. in Fayum, these portraits were originally placed over the heads of mummies. They are strikingly contemporary and moving in their detail – a slightly mustached boy, a scar, a pair of intricate earrings. The images below can be found in the beautiful book, Fayum Portraits by Berenice Geoffroy-Schneiter. When I look at these pictures, they remind me of my students and the parade of people I'd see on a Cairo street.
But then I saw this, and it knocked me out.
Separated at birth?