Tutankhamun’s extraordinary alabaster wishing cup in the form of an open lotus in full bloom stands on a high display like the Holy Grail itself. Iy emanates a magnetic energy and decorated with the god Heh seated on a basket.
The life-size amber resin guardian statue of King Tut represents the soul of Tutankhamun before his death. The clothing is made of gold; the sandals are bronze. A gilded wooden shrine with scenes of Tutankhamun and his wife Ankhesenamun is an astonishing piece of craftsmanship. His bed with gold lions’ feet is here… just imagining that Tutankhamun slept here is mind-blowing.
I love the jewellery: the earrings, necklaces, mirrors, rings and amulets, and especially the scarabs, are stunning. All made from precious stones and intricately set in gold. The level of craftsmanship is extraordinary here, so I recommend lingering long to savour the majesty and allow yourself to be transported back in time.
The gilded wooden shrine with scenes of Tutankhamun and his step-sister wife Ankhesenamun is exquisite. Tutankhamun’s mummy is not here, but what you will see is a mock-up of his body decorated with the folded golden arms holding the flail and crook (symbols of Osiris and Tutankhamun’s kingship) and a scarab beetle atop his chest adorned with amulets and gold. Eight ornate gold bands held the mummy in place; they are here too, as well as the scarab, a sacred symbol of rebirth. Take a look at his child’s chair. The boy-king was crowned at the tender age of nine and is a stunning work of art.
The funeral priests in Egypt always mummified the deceased after death. They removed all moisture from the body and extracted the stomach, liver, lungs and intestines and stored them in canopic jars. It was believed that Tutankhamun’s ka resided in the mummy which had to be kept intact to allow the magic of rebirth to take place when the deceased’s ba returning as a bird and merged with the ka.
The grand finale of the exhibition is the colossal quartzite statue of Tutankhamun standing sentinel in a gallery of its own. It’s frankly mind-blowing. What Carter and Carnarvon felt when they first opened the tomb must have been indescribable.
Thanks to the eagle eye of water boy Hussein Abdel-Rassoul, who first noticed the steps to the ancient tomb and alerted Carter, Tutankhamun was raised from obscurity to worldwide celebrity status. The boy-king, whose name had been removed from Ancient Egyptian history, was reborn to become the most famous Pharaoh of them all some 3,200 years after his death.
It’s an astonishingly sensitive exhibition that lingers in the mind and the heart long after visiting. We’ve been told this will be the final King Tutankhamun world tour. Soon the treasures will return to Cairo and be housed in a permanent exhibition at the extraordinary new Grand Egyptian Museum near the pyramids, which is due to open later this year.
If you’re thinking of visiting the London exhibition, it runs until the 3rd of May 2020, and I highly recommend buying tickets.
Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh Exhibition – Where and How?
The Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh Exhibition is located at Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, Chelsea, London SW3 4RY.
For tickets, call 44 (0) 844 248 5028 or purchase www.tutankhamun-london.com.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday – Open from 09:00 with last entry at 17:30.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday – Open from 09:00 with last entry at 19:30.
A timed entry system is in place, with tickets allocated every half hour.
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