Tut Exhibit - King Tutankhamun Exhibit, Collection: Statues, Sculptures and Containers - Painted Wooden Torso of the King

The Tutankhamun Exhibit

Statues, Sculptures and Containers

Painted Wooden Torso of the King

Painted Wooden Torso of the King

This carved wooden statue, smoothed with gesso and then painted, is a life-size representation of the king. Carter recorded that the figure was beneath one of the large ceremonial chariots in the southern end of the Antechamber. The arms have intentionally been severed to just below the bicep, and the body extends to just below the hips. Tutankhamun wears a simple white garment and a flat-topped crown with protecting uraeus, similar to a crown that Nefertiti often uses. His ears are pierced, and his skin is painted a reddish brown in the convention typical for representing males.

Although Carter had suggested that the figure may have been a mannequin, similar to a clothes-dummy, which would hold the garments and jewelry of the king, it is difficult to find parallel pieces. Other scholars have pointed out that this torso and several statues from the Middle Kingdom, which are somewhat similar in appearance, may all be related to the rebirth or resurrection of the king in association with his identification with the god Osiris. In tombs of the Old Kingdom, there are also busts similar to this one. They are heads or torsos sculpted to look as if they were emerging from the floor or the wall. They appear to be images of the ka (the corporeal twin and essential nature of the deceased) coming up from the burial chamber and entering the offering chapel through or near the false door, the place where offerings to the deceased could be made. Because of these parallels it is likely that this enigmatic statue has a funerary, rather than domestic purpose.