The Tutankhamun Exhibit
Furniture and Boxes
Writing about this bed ten years after its discovery, Carter expressed the opinion that the animals were cheetahs, and not lions as he had first supposed. His original identification, however, is broadly supported by evidence which he apparently overlooked. Like the two other animal-sided beds, it is made of gilded wood in four detachable units: the two sides, a mattress, and a wooden frame with sockets for dowels beneath the feet of the lions. The sides are joined to the mattress by hooks and staples. An inscription on the mattress names Mehturt as the deity represented by the lions (which may equally well be lionesses), but Mehturt was cow goddess, not a lioness. A lioness goddess, Isis-Meht, is, however, named in the inscription on the cow bed and it seems clear that the two inscriptions were inadvertently transposed by the engraver. The animals on this bed probably therefore represent Isis-Meht, whose special functions are not known, and consequently the purpose of the bed is hard to determine. Nevertheless, beds of a similar form are depicted in scenes of royal births carved on temple walls and it may be inferred that this bed was part of the equipment intended for Tutankhamun's rebirth after death.
Although the animals which form the sides of this bed have been regarded as male, their heads and facial features are the same as those of a very commonly represented lioness goddess, Sekhmet. Each figure is carved of wood, overlaid with a thin layer of plaster and gilded. The nose and drops under the eyes are inlaid with blue glass. The painted eyes have lids of black glass.