“Leopard-skin” robe of the priest, Harnedjitef

October 11, 2023

Men serving as high priests, Iunmutef-priests, or sem-priests required specific items of dress, one of which was the pelt of a leopard. Fastened over a shoulder or hanging down the back, the leopard skin served as a powerful symbol of regeneration, particularly relevant for priests conducting rituals carried out on behalf of the dead.

Depictions suggest that priests wore actual pelts, but nearly all the rare surviving examples are made from painted linen. Here, the paws, tail, and neckline were cut from a doubled piece of cloth whose edges were then stitched together. The “leopard spots” were once brightly colored rosettes of red, yellow, and blue.