Tut Exhibit - King Tutankhamun Exhibit, Collection: Other Items - Ostrich Feather Fan

The Tutankhamun Exhibit

Other Items

Ostrich Feather Fan

Ostrich Feather Fan

In the burial chamber Carter discovered this fan, one made of ebony, a longbow and arrows. These objects were placed between the third and fourth (innermost) shrines that enclosed the sarcophagus, coffins, and mummy of the the king. In situ, but now no longer extant, were the remains of thirty ostrich feathers, alternating white and brown. Made of wood and covered in sheet gold, the fan was about four feet in length without the feathers. The semicircular holder with the plumes intact would have looked similar to a palm leaf, but the handle terminates in a papyrus at the bottom and what appears to be a stylized papyrus (or perhaps a lotus) at the top. An inscription engraved on the handle includes, as well as epithets of the king, information that the king secured the plumes during a hunting trip in the desert, east of the city of Heliopolis.

The scene depicted on the front shows the king in his chariot hunting the ostrich from which the feathers would be obtained for the fan. The reverse side portrays the return from the fray, with two attendants in front of the royal chariot carrying the subdued ostriches. In the scene pictured here, we do not see the convention of portraying the bowstring behind (to the far side of) the face, as was the case on the golden shrine and the elaborately decorated chest. The inscription before him states: "The good God, 'Ra is the Lord of Manifestations', Given Life, like Ra forever, Lord of Power" Behind him is the wish that "All protection of/and life be behind him". At the far left, rather than a servant, an anthropomorphized ankh carries a fan similar to the one illustrated here, and it indicates, as do frequent representations of such fans in use, that they function mainly as sunshades.