The Tutankhamun Exhibit
Statues, Sculptures and Containers
Unguent Container with Crouching Lion on the Lid
Carved of translucent calcite, this vessel lay before the sealed doors of the second shrine in the Burial Chamber. Its contents, almost a pound of which survived, were chemically analyzed and found to consist of ninety percent animal fat with the remainder being either balsam or resin.
Cylindrical in shape, the jar has a lid that is supported on two sides by miniature columns with lotiform capitals surmounted by heads of Bes. The tongue, made of stained ivory, is parallel to that of the crouching lion on the lid. The lion, bearing the cartouche of the king, is a symbol for him. His ears, like those of other animals in the tomb, are pierced, but the earrings no longer remain. The recumbent figure majestically poses over the traditional enemies of Egypt, Asiatics and Nubians. Carved of red and black stones respectively, the heads of the figures are attached to the crosspieces under the container as a symbol of pharaoh's perpetual domination.
The container has two borders; the dominant theme of the upper one is a stylized floral border, and the lower one takes the form of a dado, an architectural motif. Between them are incised scenes of animals attacking their prey. The background is tinted a dark hue so that the plants and animals stand out. A lion attacking a bull predominates on both sides, and hounds attack an ibex in a subsidiary scene. The swirl pattern on the shoulder of the attacking lion represents the tuft of hair on the animal's shoulder. The same feature appears on the recumbent lion on the lid as well as on the unguent jar in the form of a lion.