Tut Exhibit - King Tutankhamun Exhibit, Collection: Statues, Sculptures and Containers - Wooden Head of a Cow

The Tutankhamun Exhibit

Statues, Sculptures and Containers

Gilded Wooden Head of a Cow

Gilded Wooden Head of a Cow

This wooden carving of the head and neck of a cow found in the Treasury in front of the canopic chest was covered with a thin layer of gesso. The head and part of the neck were then gilded, while the lower portion of the neck and the pedestal base were coated with a dark resin. The horns, which received the same varnish, consist of gessoed wood covered with a thin metal sheet of either copper or bronze. Inlays of glass and stone form the different parts of the eye.

The goddess Hathor was often represented in the form of a cow, and, as such, was depicted on the walls of many Theban tombs dating to the New Kingdom. When portrayed in the papyrus marsh, her body is usually obscured, hidden by the thicket and the western mountain. Only her head is visible, and it is perhaps this aspect of her that is rendered here in three dimensions. Hathor was known as the mistress of the western desert, where the necropolis was located, and would, therefore, be of assistance to the deceased. She is frequently referred to in the Coffin Texts and the Book of the Dead. It is to her that the deceased comes upon entering the Afterlife, and it is she who will anoint him and give him life among the dead.