Headrest of King Tutankhamun

Headrests were used in ancient Egypt and are still used in some African regions to protect the head of the sleeper and ease the circulation of air around the head in the hot summer nights.

A soft pillow or cushion would have made it more comfortable for the sleeper. Spell 166 of the Book of the Dead ensured protection for the head of the deceased in the afterlife by warding off demons who might attack. This headrest is similar in shape to a folding stool.

The pillow holder of the headrest is made of strands of ivory beads stained dark green, red-brown, and black. The two sides are decorated with the face of the god, Bes of Joy, on their outer surface and a lotus flower on the inner surface. The legs end in ducks’ heads.

Headrest of King Tutankhamun
Headrest of King Tutankhamun

From the Tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62), Valley of the Kings, West Thebes. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 62023

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