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Tut Exhibit - King Tutankhamun Exhibit, Collection: Jewelry - Eye of Ra Pectoral representing King Tutankhamun


The Tutankhamun Exhibit

Jewelry and Ornamentation

Eye of Ra Pectoral

Eye of Ra Pectoral


Inscriptions written between the eyebrow and eyelid on the front and back of this udjat eye read: "khopri, who is in his divine bark, the great dog, chief of the great temple" (i.e. the Temple of Heliopolis), and "Ra-Harakhty, the great god, who is in the night bark, lord of heaven and lord of earth." It is evident, therefore, that the udjat eye, in this instance, represents the Eye of Ra, not the Eye of Horus, a less common significance of the symbol, but not exceptional. The two barques in which the sun-god traveled - by day across the sky and by night through the underworld - were sometimes identified with the eyes of the sun-god and consequently with both the left and right udjat eyes. Khopri represented the sun-god at sunrise in the east, and the Egyptians called the east the "left", which accords with the fact that the eye, if viewed from the side on which Khopri is named (shown in this illustration), is the left eye. If it is turned round it becomes the right eye; the word for west (where the god entered his night bark) was the "right". Ra-Harakhty is mentioned in the "right eye" inscription as being in the night bark. Further, though not conclusive, evidence that this udjat eye represents the Eye of Ra is provided by the presence of the cobra, which symbolizes the uraeus on the god's brow. That uraeus was itself regarded as the eye of the sun-god. Behind the cobra and under the eye is a single hieroglyphic sign for "protection," indicating that the king would receive the protection of the Eye of Ra.

According to another legend about the Eye of Ra, the sun-god ruled on earth as a king, but when he grew old people plotted against him. On hearing about their evil designs, Ra consulted some of his fellow gods, who urged him to send his eye in the form of the goddess Hathor to destroy his disloyal subjects. He accepted their advice and Hathor set forth on her destructive mission. Before it was completed, however, Ra relented and spared the survivors. Hathor, in this connection, is usually called the udjat eye and is so named in a spell in the Book of the Dead (Chapter 167), which is devoted to the return of the Eye of Ra after the massacre. It begins with these words: "Thoth has brought the udjat eye, he has appeased the udjat eye after Ra had sent her out and she had become exceedingly angry." Thoth played a similar role in restoring the udjat eye to Horus and it is clear that the two legends have been conflated.

The necklace, on which this pectoral was suspended in the layer of amulets nearest to the king's mummy, consists of blue faience, plain gold, and granulated gold cylindrical beads. At the top of the necklace, instead of a counterpoise, the repetition is broken by a large bead of black resin set between granulated gold cups flanked by granulated gold beads resembling miniature mesketu bracelets.

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