Tut Exhibit - King Tutankhamun Exhibit, Collection: Statues, Sculptures and Containers - Life-Size Wooden Statue of the King

The Tutankhamun Exhibit

Statues, Sculptures and Containers

Life-Size Wooden Statue of the King

Life-Size Wooden Statue of the King

Placed in the north end of the Antechamber, this figure of Tutankhamun faced another similar statue, the two acting as guardians before the entrance to the Burial Chamber. Standing approximately five feet six inches tall, the two statues flanked the plastered blind wall behind which lay the mortal remains of the king. The statue is carved in wood, and gilded bronze is the material of the uraeus, sandals, eyebrows and cosmetic lines. The whites of the eyes are crystalline limestone, and the pupils are obsidian. A black resin covers the exposed parts of the body, while the clothes, jewelry, mace and staff are gilded over a layer of linen and gesso. A thin shroud of linen originally draped over each figure had all but disintegrated by the time Carter opened the tomb.

The positioning of these statues outside the Burial Chamber may relate to their protective purpose. The inscription on the projecting part of the kilt, however, may indicate another function, since it refers to the statue as the royal ka of the sun god, Horakhty. It was this god that the king would accompany in his solar bark, and it was one of the gods with whom he would be identified. As such, the statue could represent one of the aspects of the king. The inscription also calls the king "Osiris", an indication that he is dead and has joined Osiris. This latter association may be the reason for the color of the visible parts of the body. Osiris was frequently shown with black skin to symbolize the fertile land from which all vegetation and, therefore, all life derived. Sometimes illustrated with green skin, the color of vegetation, or perennial life, Osiris symbolized life eternal.