The Lost Manuscript of Frédéric Cailliaud: Arts and Crafts of the Ancient Egyptians, Nubians, and Ethiopians
By Andrew Bednarski, ed. and trans.
2013, AUC Press, 978-9-77416-616-7, $49.50 hb.
Reviewed by Louis Werner on February 1, 2016
This tome will appeal to readers who feel compelled to complete their library of the 19th-century European literature on Egyptology. In that already extensive bibliography, Cailliaud is a leading figure of the century’s first half, and his personal narratives of travels far up the Nile are nothing short of heroic in their daring and discoveries. A more recent discovery—in fact just 10 years ago in the dusty inventory of a London bookseller—was a manuscript he wrote later in life to accompany a published suite of 66 color plates of tomb drawings of everyday objects and daily activities, from sandals and chairs to milking cows and preparing feasts. Chapters such as “On Games,” “Transport of Statues” and “The Art of Preparing Hair”—which include his comments on contemporary practice and manufacture as observed in local homes and markets—amplify the meaning of the exquisitely reproduced images, on par with those in Description de l’Egypte. When he states, for instance, that a king in Ethiopia is coiffed the same way shown in a royal relief at the Temple of Apedemak in central Sudan, Cailliaud is certain because he had seen both, the carving and the king’s hair, probably in the same week.