The Tutankhamun Exhibit
Jewelry and Ornamentation
From early times until the Roman period, the broad collar, called usekh, "broad," continued to be a regular item in Egyptian funerary equipment, though sometimes only as a model. The extent to which importance was attached to it in the New Kingdom may be judged from the fact that no fewer than eleven usekh collars were laid on the mummy of Tutankhamun, separated by bandages or sheets of papyrus. Eight of these collars, made of single sheets of gold, were rigid, and three, made of multiple gold elements, were flexible. One of the flexible collars represents the vulture of Nekhbet, another the winged cobra of Wadjet, and the third the falcon of Horus. It is the falcon collar that is illustrated here. It was placed over the middle of the thorax, the tail reaching downwards to the navel and the tips of the wings lying over the clavicles. Apart from the wings, the various members f the body of the bird are joined in one piece, with polychrome glass inlays to imitate the feathers, and obsidian inlays to mark the beak and eye. Each of the delicately chased talons holds a shen sign inlaid with blue and red glass. The wings are composed of thirty-eight gold plaques, all inlaid with polychrome glass in the manner of cloisonne-work; they vary in shape and decoration according to the position in the wings that they occupy. Each plaque is provided with tiny eyelets for connection by means of thread, which gave the wings their flexibility. A floral-shaped counterpoise (mankhet), inlaid with colored glass, was threaded on a gold wire necklace attached to the wings and hung down below the nape of the neck.