I have a deliciously exotic post for you for Steampunkapalooza. Today, April 12, is national licorice day. Those amazing ancient Egyptians were the first to discover the wonders of licorice. Generous amounts of licorice were found in King Tut’s tomb and the use of licorice in an ancient beverage is recorded in Egyptian hieroglyphics. The Victorians loved licorice. It’s a perfect candy for a tea party. You can place a stick of it in your tea to stir it. Also a crystal dish filled with colorful Licorice Allsorts, a favorite English candy since 1899, will liven up your tea table. Of course licorice was just one of many ancient Egyptian influences on Victorian culture.
The Victorians loved costumes and Cleopatra influenced costumes were quite fashionable, used in the theater and to wear to balls. Of course actual Ancient Egyptian clothing and the Victorian idea of it were two different things. Pictured here are actresses Constance Collier, Sarah Bernhardt, and Maud Allan.
Also, Inspired by authentic Victorian fashion plates of Egyptian costumes, the Steam Ingenious Cleopatra fancy dress project is recreating the gown Lady Paget wore to the 1875 Delmonico Ball in New York City. The portrait and photo of Lady Paget in the costume along with several fashion plates of Cleopatra style gowns are pictured on the blog.
The Egyptian Revival period also influenced Victorian furnishings.This chair belonged to Empress Josephine.
Victorians were fascinated with Egyptian mummies and unwrapping parties were quite stylish. George Mann tied Steampunk with mummy unwrapping in a wonderful scene in The Osiris Ritual. Here’s an excerpt from a Victorian mummy unwrapping party in the Steampunk/Romance, As Timeless As Magic.
Mister Mugrage yanked a strip of linen wrapping, tugging it off as he circled the mummy, unraveling it. He withdrew an amulet from the linen gauze and held it up. “Our first party favor. Who wants this lovely turquoise scarab?”
A lady in a large hat and a blue gown fluttered her fan. “I do, Mister Mugrage.”
“Madame Mills, by all means, this little gem is yours. It shall bring you great luck.” Mister Mugrage placed the treasure in the woman’s gloved hand as she giggled with glee.
Heru loosened his cravat before he gagged. The crowd’s thunderous applause fueled his anger. These amulets protected the deceased, helped him find his way in the afterlife, and this ridiculous man handed them out as party favors.
Mister Mugrage continued unraveling the mummy until he came upon the next find, a small hawk carved from blue lapis. He handed it to a man with a protruding belly and white beard, dressed in black trousers, a gray coat, and a green cravat. Heru fought the urge to grab the amulet back from the man‟s chubby fingers.
No sooner had the other guests congratulated the man than Mister Mugrage yanked the wrappings again. “Here we have a hollow gold beetle.” He placed it in Felicity’s hand. “What is this symbol on the top?“
Felicity peered at the golden insect, examining it closely. “Two crossed arrows over a shield, the symbol of Goddess Neith, deity of the hunt.”
“Who will have this fine beetle?” Mister Mugrage flashed a broad grin.
Heru wanted to yell for them to stop as he stood helplessly by, watching a corpse being violated for nothing but the fleeting pleasure of shallow people. He accidentally bit his tongue. He grabbed his jaw, and rubbed it.
A woman held up her dainty hand netted in a lacy glove. Felicity gifted the lady with the beetle amulet.
As Mister Mugrage unwound more linen gauze, he discovered a small statue with the body of a man and the head of a jackal.
“Anubis.” Finally, an idea struck. Heru swiftly stuck out his hand, almost grabbing the amulet. ”May I?” he asked in French.
“Oui.” Mister Mugrage handed it to him.
Heru knew this held the most powerful curse, for the priests who cast spells on the amulets wore the mask of Anubis. He flipped it over and read the hieroglyphic inscription. “You dare to touch this sacred mummy. You mortal man, whose flesh and skull will return to the desert sand. I curse you with the loss of your hands.” Heru clasped the amulet tightly, whispering the spell in Old Egyptian in the parlor just as he would have in the temple of Anubis. “Curse him, who disturbs the dead, who robs what the gods entombed. His hands should be severed if not his head, his cursed fingers doomed.”
“Give me that. Let me read it.” Felicity’s father reached for the amulet to grab it back from Heru. He gasped. His fingers fell limp. Mister Mugrage screamed, “My hands! They are numb, I cannot feel anything.”
Another fun fact, the coolest thing about Steamgyptianpunk is Heron (also called Hero) the Egyptian, in first century AD, invented the steam engine. His aeolipile was the first working steam engine in history.
Along with my Steamgyptianpunk books, As Timeless As Stone and As Timeless As Magic there are several other steampunk books in my home library with Egyptian influences: The Osiris Ritual by George Mann, The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers, Timeless by Gail Carriger, and Empire of Ruins by Arthur Slade.
My Contest to celebrate Steampunkapalooza is a giveaway of a pdf eBook of As Timeless As Stone. Leave a comment below and I’ll choose two winners. Please include your email so I can reach you if you are selected.
Here is a book trailer of As Timeless As stone: