Gold Mummy Mask of King Tutankhamun

This gold death mask of Tutankhamun is an example of the highest artistic and technical achievements of the ancient Egyptians in the New Kingdom. Covering the head of the wrapped mummy in its coffin and activated by a magical spell, no.151b from the Book of the Dead, the mask ensured more protection for the king’s body. The exact portrayal of the king’s facial features achieved here made it possible for his soul to recognize him and return to his mummified body, thus ensuring his resurrection.

Gold Mask of King Tutankhamun
Gold Mummy Mask of King Tutankhamun

The head is covered by the royal headdress and the forehead bears the emblems of kingship and protection: the vulture and uraeus, or royal cobra. The gold sheets used in this wonderful mask are joined together by heating and hammering. The eyes are of obsidian and quartz and the eyebrows and eyelids are inlaid with lapis lazuli. The broad inlaid collar of semi precious stones and colored glass ends in falcon heads.

detail of the beard of king Tutankhamun’s gold mummy mask
Detail of the beard of king Tutankhamun’s gold mummy mask. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. AFP/Photo Mohamed El-Shahed

From the Tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62), Valley of the Kings, West Thebes. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 60672

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