Falcon Pectoral of Tutankhamun

Pectoral jewel of Tutankhamun depicting Horus in the form of a falcon with outspread wings around the sun disk, holding shen rings, the symbols of eternal protection in his claws.

The solar hawk with disc on the head, open wings, Ankh and Shen emblems in talons; inlaid after cloisonné fashion. One of the Ankh’s broken (probably during use). Still inspiring jewel-makers until today, Tutankhamun’s falcon-shaped breastplate is made of gold and semi-precious stones.

Falcon Pectoral of Tutankhamun
Falcon Pectoral of Tutankhamun

The falcon’s wings are outstretched, carrying a solar disc on its head, and two shen-rings in each talon, topped with an ankh. Most likely, this piece represents Horus, the falcon-headed deity of power and kingship.

In bright and shimmering polychromy, the falcon, represented in full flight, spreads its wings. Curved upwards, they thus offer, in an elegant symmetry, perfect protection for the deceased.

The cloisonné technique – which here achieves a degree of excellence – enabled the 18th Dynasty goldsmith who made this incredible pectoral to combine an enchantment of semi-precious stones, perfectly rendering the texture and composition of the plumage.

Gold, lapis lazuli, turquoise, carnelian, or even light blue glass realistically reproduce the location of the primary and secondary flight feathers and the contour feathers and those of the tail.

“It has partitions which are so tightly fitted with blue and red glass that it has been suggested that they represent the first example of true enamelling from Egypt”, analyzes Carol Andrews in “Ancient Egyptian Jewelry”.

From the Tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62), Valley of the Kings, West Thebes. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 61893, Carter 267 and GEM 39169