Tutankhamun Guardian Statues

The Life-sized


 Ka Statues


 Guardian Statues of Tutankhamun

When Howard Carter shone his torch through into the antechamber, among the first things that caught his eyes were these two large black statues of the king with the remains of their ancient linen shawls still hanging around their shoulders. They were found flanking the entrance to the burial chamber.

 Tutankhamun Guardian Statues

Why are these two statues called so?
1-     Life-sized statues: Because they correspond very closely with the estimated height of the king, which is 167 cm, based on the measurement of the mummy.

2-    Guardian Statues: Due to the place of discovery as they were found in the antechamber facing each other on either side of the blocked doorway of the burial chamber as if they are guarding from the danger of being attacked by any intruders. The maces and the staffs are the tools that he would use in the beyond for this function.

 The Guardian Statues of Tutankhamun

3-    Ka Statues: The ancient Egyptians believed that the ka of a person first comes into existence at one’s birth; when the ram-headed god Khnum, who was fashioning human beings on a pottery wheel, was responsible for creating two identical figures: the body and a spiritual copy that is the ka. After death, it continues to represent his identity so long as it has an exact image of the deceased. Therefore, the ka needed a permanent domicile in the form of either a mummy or a statue replacing the mummy in case the original corpse disappeared or got damaged. However, the inscriptions on the kilts of the statues are clarifying that only one of them was made for the Ka that is the one with the fnt headdress. 

They are made out of wood, gessoed, and coated with bitumen or black resin except for (the headdress, jewelry and the kilt or Shendyt, which are gilded). The outlines of the eyes, the eyebrows, cobra on the forehead and the sandals are made of gilded bronze.

 The Guardian Statues of TutankhamunThe Guardian Statues of Tutankhamun

·        These two statues are almost identical except for two things:
-The First is in the type of the headdress as one is wearing the Nms headdress (the one on the right-hand side) and the other wearing the fnt headdress (the one on the left-hand side).  The ‘fnt headdress is different from the Khat headdress with the tail extended from the back and this tail represented either the tail of God Anubis or the two wings of god Horus tied together.
-The Second is in the inscriptions on the central part of the kilt of each statue.

The king is represented standing in the traditional pose of the royal king: left leg stepping forward, wearing the headdress. The cobra is shown on his head is for protection. The eyes are inlaid with calcite for the white part and obsidian for the black part. The king is wearing a wide collar and a pectoral in which there is a winged scarab as a sign of resurrection. He is wearing armlets and bracelets that are gilded. He is holding a mace head decorated with scales in his right hand and a long staff in his left hand with a papyrus umbel just under his hand as a handrest. The king is wearing a pleated kilt (Shendyt) with a starched central tab that was fashionable during this era. The tab of this kilt is decorated by two cobras wearing the sun disk and on both sides there are sunrays to enlighten the inscriptions carrying the titles of the king which are in the middle of the kilt. At the very end on either corner, there is the head of a jackal. In his feet, he is wearing gilded bronze sandals.

The two statues bear slightly traces of Amarna style of art which appeared in the pierced earlobes, slim legs, and bulging belly.

Inscriptions on the statue with the Nms headdress:

  niswt bity nb xprw ra  (the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, lord of the
forms or existences of ra)
  sA ra nb xaw twt anx imn HkA iwn rsyt anx Dt mi ra ra nb
(the son of ra, lord of the crowns (or appearance) “the living image of Imn , ruler of southern Heliopolis (Thebes)”, living forever, like Re, every day)

Note: This statue represents the king during his lifetime. All the inscriptions are about the sun god Re and the king’s occupation on earth as a ruler of the southern Iwn (Thebes).

The Guardian Statues of TutankhamunThe Guardian Statues of Tutankhamun

Inscriptions on the statue with the ‘fnt headdress:
 Just under the crack:

  kA n ra Hr Axty (the ka of ra Hr Axty)

  wsir niswt (The Osiris king)

   nb xprw ra (the lord of the forms of ra)

   mAa xrw (true of voice)

Note: After death the king was identified with both the sun god, of whom Horakhty is one appellation and with Osiris.
The inscription describes Tutankhamen as “the Royal ka of Rehorakhty”, so it confirms that this statue represents the royal ka or spiritual double of the king. It reads: (n kA n ra Hr Axty) which means (to the ka of ra Hr Axty) where Rehorakhty refers to the king himself (Horus on earth), then wsir nsw which refers to the king after his death (the dead king). Also the epithet true of voice is only used for the dead.

Why are the statues black in colour?
There are several theories concerning this:
The First:  Black is the colour of death.
The Second: Black is the colour of Osiris (god of death, resurrection and the afterlife) because the colors of the Osiris are (green, black and white).
The Third: Black is the colour associated with regeneration, probably owing its origin to the black colour of the fertile soil of Egypt as a source of plant-life. That is why Egypt is called Kmt (the black land). So the statues were covered with black resin to increase their potency as instruments of regeneration. Mummies and coffins were sometimes covered with black resin, undoubtedly for the same reason.
The Fourth: Identifying the king with the god Anubis who is the guardian of the necropolis since they both have the same function.
The Fifth: Black is the colour of the Nubian guards. (a weak theory)
The Sixth: To scare the intruders off the burial chamber of Tutankhamen. (even weaker theory)

     Apart from these two statues of Tutankhamun, there is another similar example found in the tomb of Amenhotep II (KV 35). Also there are three other examples of the same kind displayed in the British Museum. They were acquired in 1821 from the British consul – General in Egypt, Henry Salt, who had obtained two of them from the tomb of Ramesses I, and the third may have come from the tomb of Ramesses II.


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