The Tutankhamun Exhibit
Jewelry and Ornamentation
Pectoral Featuring Nut in Vulture Form
Some Old Kingdom representations of the usekh collar show a rectangular or trapezoidal panel hanging down from its lower edge. As variants, the panel may be attached to the collar by two straps, one on each side, or it may be suspended from the neck on straps that pass either over or under the collar. At that stage in its development the panel was probably in effect a pectoral, but was only worn with the collar. By the Twelfth Dynasty it had become a shrine-shaped amulet, independent of the collar, but still occupying the same position over the chest.
This shrine-shaped pectoral illustrated here shows the sky-goddess Nut in vulture form. It is a gold openwork piece inlaid with polychrome glass and a small amount of carnelian. The shrine has a cavetto cornice with a floral frieze; its sides and base have ribbon decoration. Above the cornice, at each end, is a terminal bar pierced with three holes for a three string suspension chain. Nut's name is written above the body of the vulture, thereby leaving its identity beyond doubt. The folding of the ends of the wings downwards, so that they resemble a cloak, is a space-saving device repeated with greater elegance and delicacy in the vulture of Nekhbet pectoral.
Above the vulture, in addition to the name of Nut, the king's throne and personal names are written, but the titles are inverted and the names are written with the signs reading in reverse order within the cartouches. Furthermore, the signs after the personal name, which stand for the epithet "ruler of Heliopolis of Upper Egypt" are all placed in the wrong order. It is remarkable to find such confusion in a short inscription on a royal amulet.