Death Mask - King Tut

Death Mask King Tut

This image depicts the death mask of King Tut.  Beyond its beauty, what does it mean?  How was it worn?

Let's start with its composition:   It is made of solid gold and weighs around 24 pounds.  King Tut's mummy - which was wrapped in linen bandages - wore the mask over the former Pharaoh's head and shoulders. 

Does the mask resemble the mummy’s features?  It actually does.  Compare the mask to images of the mummy's face.  You see rather narrow eyes, fleshy lips and a nose which seems to fit with the mask.  Maybe it wasn't intended to be an actual portrait, but the mask seems to capture the "boy king."

The headdress (called a nemes) has stripes which are made of blue glass.  We find the same material in the false beard.  There is a vulture's head on the brow which is made of solid gold (except for the beak and the eyes).  Experts tell us that vulture's head symbolizes Tut's sovereignty over Upper Egypt.

Then there's the cobra, next to the vulture, whose body is also made of gold.  Experts tell us the cobra symbolizes Tut's sovereignty over Lower Egypt. 

So ... there is a lot more to know about the mask than just admiring it as an ancient treasure.  It was rich in symbolism and meaning for both the Pharaoh and the people he ruled.

Media Credits

Image of King Tut's death mask, online via Wikimedia Commons.


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"Death Mask - King Tut" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Sep 21, 2019.
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