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Tut Exhibit - King Tutankhamun Exhibit, Collection: Jewelry - Flexible Head Bracelet representing King Tutankhamun


The Tutankhamun Exhibit

Jewelry and Ornamentation

Bracelet with carnelian udjat, shown as a human eye combined with a falcon's head

Flexible Head Bracelet


Thirteen bracelets were placed on the forearms of Tutankhamun's mummy, seven on the right and six on the left. Apart from these thirteen, there were other bracelets among the mummy wrappings and elsewhere in the tomb. This bracelet was placed on the right forearm, near the elbow. It's band is composed of nine rows of gold, faience, and glass beads threaded between six gold spacer bars that resemble the gold beads and keep the nine rows in position. The clasp, which is like a pegged mortise and tenon joint, consists of three members: a hollow bar with a central slot, attached to one end of a gold cloison inlaid with a carnelian udjat eye, a cylindrical tenon that projects from the terminal at the free end of the band and fits into the slot, and a removable gold pin to hold the tenon in the slot. On the back of the cloison there is the inscription "Lord of the Two Lands, image of Ra, Nebkheperura, ruler of order, given life like Ra for ever and ever." The engraver has inverted the signs for the Two Lands. It is exceptional, but not without parallel, to find the epithet "ruler of order" after the king's throne name. Both the eye and the cloison have figures of an uraeus with the double crown at the end opposite to the clasp.

The udjat eye consists of a human eye and eyebrow to which are added the markings on a falcon's head; it is thus symbolical of both Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis, who is represented in human form, and the sky-god named Horus, who is represented either as a falcon or as a man with a falcon's head. The word udjat means "sound, healthy" and it was used by the ancient Egyptians as a name for the eye that Horus had lost when fighting with the god Seth to avenge the murder of Osiris. According to the myth, Seth tore the eye into fragments, but Thoth, the god of writing, wisdom, and magic, found the fragments and put them together. He restored the eye to health by spitting on it and then gave it back to Horus, and he, in turn, gave it back to life.

Filial piety was one of the virtues symbolized by the udjat eye: it could serve as a substitute for any of the offerings that an eldest son was supposed to provide daily at the tomb of his father. It was also thought to be a potent amulet against sickness and to be capable of restoring the dead to life, as it had done for Osiris. Both the right and left eyes are represented in the udjat form, but the right is more common, perhaps through the influence of another myth, according to which the sun was the right, and the moon the left eye of the sky-god; the sun was regarded as the more powerful. With the exception of the scarab, the udjat was the most popular amulet in ancient Egypt.

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