King Tut's Death Mask and Its Meaning

King Tut's Death Mask and Its Meaning (Illustration) Ancient Places and/or Civilizations Social Studies Famous People Visual Arts

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
  • It weighs around 24 pounds. 

King Tut's mummy—which was wrapped in linen strips—wore the mask over the deceased Pharaoh's head and shoulders.  

Does the mask resemble the mummy’s features?  It actually does:

You see similar ears, full 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 the Pharaoh and the people he ruled.


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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jun 09, 2014

Updated Last Revision: Nov 04, 2016

Media Credits

Image of King Tut’s mask by Jon Bodsworth and included as part of his Egypt Archive. Mr. Bodsworth has released the copyright for this picture, as follows:


All the photographs on this site are from my own originals and are copyright free. They can be reproduced in any medium. If you use any on the web I would appreciate an email. This site was designed to put as many photographs on the web as possible in an easy to use format. I have deliberately kept captions to a minimum but if you would like more information on any of the photographs let me know.

The photographs on this website are only a small proportion of over 3,500 that I have covering many areas of Egypt. If there is a specific photograph that you are looking for please let me know."

If you use any of the pictures on the web, the author Jon Bodsworth would appreciate an email: [email protected]


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"King Tut's Death Mask and Its Meaning" AwesomeStories.com. Jun 09, 2014. Feb 18, 2020.
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