The Funerary Mask of Tutankhamun

Nourishments had to be provided for by the Ka’ form, a spiritual deity characterized by hovering near the body Khat (Kha) or a figurine of the dead king. The ka’ was mobile, could eat and drink. The ka’ had two aspects, a higher plane of divinity than that of the human beings, more like the guardian angels, then there was the ka’ the lower soul of a human being which was emancipated from knowledge gleaned from earthy experience. A symbiotic relationship existed between the ka’ and the Ba’.Ba was conveyor of nourishment to ka’. It was depicted by a human head and it was believed that it darted within the tomb ensuring sustenance and nourishment is available during the day, but in the evenings it travelled with Ra’ the sun god on his solar boat while transversing through the underworld. The pristine human spirit which could not be tainted by human frailty, and could dwell with the heavenly beings took the form of Sahu’ who came into form after judgment of the dead has been passed and it possessed all the mental and spiritual abilities of a living being.

Inside the Sahu’ there lived a radiant and shiny being known as the Akhu. This part of the Sahu’ was considered immortal and possessed the intellect, willpower and the intentions of the dead to immortalize itself. The Akhu’ state usually came into being after judgment has been passed, portraying the immortal, radiant and shining being that lived in the Sahu’. Immortalizations by transfiguration of death leading to ascended to the heavens and have a permanent domicile amongst the heavenly beings and the stars. The Akhu form came into being after r the ka’ and ba’ are united. Other spiritual representations of the deities involved in the transfiguration were represented by;

Khaibit a shadowy man entrusted with the funerary offerings and was always on close proximity to Ba’

The Sekhem represented the personification of the human life force, while the Ab’ accounted for the moral intellect and the ability to determine good from evil. Failure to pass the moral barometer would lead to instantaneous death by being devoured by Ahemait’ the female demon with a body part lion, part hippopotamus and part crocodile.

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The last of the spiritual souls was the ren and as per historians, the real name of the boy king was not king tut but King Tutankhamun. 'True' names were often kept secret. Real names were a closely guarded affair and could even be bound by magic, as knowledge of an individual’s name gave one insight into his being and power over him which can be manipulated for wrongful evil reasons. Ren advocated for use of nicknames when addressing an individual as some people may speak out a name aloud with bad intentions.

An idea environment had to be created to ensure a smooth rite of passage to the afterlife. Thus the mummy had to be mummified in the right form, and accompanied by ideal contents and accorded the due recognition status wise, in the society. The form of the funerary mask had to embody the character traits of the king to ensure recognition during the rite of passage. Analysis conducted on the funerary portrait mask shows a facial similarity to the pharaoh boy king. The mask weighed approximately ten kilograms, measured 21inches in height by 15 inches with unique exquisite workmanship. The use of Gold in formation of the mask symbolised wealth, and was believed to possess magical powers, potency and religious properties. The everlasting, undegradable property of gold ensured that its allure remains everlasting as represented by the sun of which gold was considered as the flesh of the gods. The gold was inlaid with semi-precious stones, coloured glass paste with obsidian and quartz denoting the eyes. Various engraving were made at the back of the mask, consisting of a series of spells and texts from the book of the dead also known as ‘Reu nu pert em hru’ translated as “The Chapters of coming forth by day”. The book had incantations and the varied incantations and spells if used could help the dead chart his way through the Duat(underground) and into the life beyond the living.

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The funerary mask did not just consist of a facial mask but had other adages, each with its importance for the boy king’s onward transition to the afterlife. These adages took various forms, each with its own purpose. The funerary mask consisted of the nemes design, with the uraeus(cobra) and the vulture in the forehead.

That cobra was a symbolical emblem of the goddess Wadjet who was the patron goddess of the lower delta of Egypt and while the vulture was goddess Nekhbet’s emblem, the patron of the upper Nile delta in Egypt. The two goddesses were also known as the ladies of the pharaoh and were his protectors symbolizing the kingdom of the boy king.

The figurines stood on the king’s nemes headdress, with the cobra acting as a conduit of fire from the sun god- Ra’, ready to spit fire on any approaching enemies, while the vulture embodied the linkage between the king and the gods.

The nemes design has yellow stripes of solid gold, crossed over by glass paste band and overlapped by colored dark blue imitating lapis lazuli around the eyes, depicting the almond eye look, common with ancient Egyptians. Within the tombs were additional artifacts to be used as makeup, richly decorated kohl pots were found in the tomb and were used as makeups.

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The lower adage of the nemes design had a beard depicting the boy kings maturity into godly hood. Beards symbolized the deity nature of the Pharaohs while conducting their divine religious and ceremonial responsibilities.

Another additional adage to the nemes mask design of the boy kings mask was the crock (hega) and the frail (nekhakha) made from cylindrical sections of dark blue glass, obsidian and gold mounted on copper rods. The inclusion of these two artifacts which are unique to gods, symbolized that King Tut was divine. The golden collar of the mask was decorated with feldspar, quartz, lapis lazuli and colored glass, with a falcon head coated with obsidian and semi-precious stones.

 The reign of King Tutankhamen (reigned 1333-23BC) suggested that he was more of a puppet stooge king whose kingdom was controlled by the Grand Vizier, Ay who was also the presumed father of Nefertiti, his stepmother. Ay was also the grandfather of Ankhesenpaaten, the wife of Tutankhamun.  His era was one of the most troubled periods of Egyptian history. Through Ay the radical changes that were made by Akhenaten his father were reversed. The pharaoh changed his name from Tutankhaten, (living image of Aten), to Tutankhamen, (living image of Amen). The funerary ceremony of King Tut was quite elaborate. Two mummies of two young children were found in the tomb, and the presumption is that they were King Tutankhamen’s. The lack of a clear apparent heir ensured that  Ay, who was the king’s vizier  succeed the king and  to ease the process, he married the widow of the dead boy king giving him further right to be the king..

The Vizier Aj along with majority of the Egyptian populace were not happy with the initial radical changes king Tutankhamen father Amenhotep IV had instigated, he had turned his back on the traditional religion of Egypt and turned to worship Aten, the sun disk. His ruling legacy was based on the teachings contained in The Emerald tablet. Several Egyptian writings and texts refer to the "Zep Tepi,"a time before the great floods when heavenly being like, established domicile on earth. Their kingdom was based in Egypt and they included Thoth, the god of science and mathematics who is credited with writing the Emerald tablet. Other Egyptian funerary texts referring to this era are the book of What Is in the Daat, and Book of the Dead. The tablet whose basic ideology was that there existed a divine supreme being whom individuals can worship and reach a level of mind that determines physical reality was the revolutionary text used by King Tutankhamen’s father and was the basis for his earlier leadership decisions before reverted back to the pre- Akhenaten era of polytheism. This can only be done through direct knowledge of God.  He changed his name from Amenhotep (meaning "Amen is Satisfied") to Akhenaten ("He Who Serves the Aten"),then he relocated the capital of Egypt, the centre of governance from the traditional capitals at Thebes and Memphis to a new city built in the desert called “Amarna” and swore never to leave till death. These changes caused great discomfort to the Egyptian way of life, His lack of interest in wars Pharaoh Akhenaten's radical changes must have been very upsetting to the Egyptian establishment. The Pharaoh had no interest in wars, so the army was not well maintained. He started monotheism, worshipping of only one god, that meant that there was less money to be spent on, the traditional temples maintenance of the high priests, making the priesthood very unhappy. When the King Tut took over , under the auspices of Aye's council, changes were made to reverse previous changes by his father Pharaoh Akhenaten .These changes appeased the disgruntled priesthood  and military leaders. The army was rebuilt and once more the military ventured into foreign lands to collect tribute and make peace with the neighbouring Canaanites and Hittites in northern Syria allied to the Assyrians, led by general Horemheb.

 The capital was moved back to Memphis, and the old Egyptian value of polytheism or idolatry, the worship of many gods, were restored. Amen was again the chief of the gods.  

 His earlier association with the Akhenaten era beliefs had made him unpopular; he was forced to make radical changes to pacify the priesthood and the Army as mentioned above and even married Akhenaten’s daughter, who was his half-sister at the aged 10.

His untimely death and the elaborate nature on how his funeral arrangements were conducted denote that his era was not glorified as the other pharaohs.  He was succeeded by Ay (c. 1352-1348), who later on married his widow, Ankhesenpaaten, and, reigned as pharaoh for a grand total of four years before he died.

The boy - king "Tutankhamen was a man of fashion," reported the Manchester Guardian in the 1920s. This statement connotes the exquisite taste the boy king had and even unto his death, everything was planned to the detail to ensure that there were no hitches during his transformation to the afterlife. An audit of the artifacts he was buried with shows exclusive tastes, most of these materials and objects consisted of the minerals and ornaments available during that particular period. The workmanship was also exquisite with entrustment of precious jewels, Bracelets, Anklets, Buckles, Scarabs, Amulets, Pendants, Pectorals, Necklaces, Earrings, Collars, Ear Studs and Rings’ and a  host of other materials which included,6 Chariots, Couches, Chairs ,2 Thrones, Ritual beds and Headrests ,Anthropoid (man-shaped) Gilded Coffins and the Solid Gold coffin ,Shrines - Canopic shrine and Burial shrines, Funeral Equipment ,Naos covered with gold lamina- a shrine in which statues were kept  ,Gilded statues - Anubis and life size sentry statues and other statuettes ,Chests, Daggers  and shields, Musical Instruments, Scribal Equipment, Lamps, Caskets, Vases and jars,139 ebony, ivory, silver, and gold walking sticks, Clothing made of the finest linen - 50 garments including tunics, kilts, gloves, scarves and headdresses ,Ostrich fans and Golden Fans ,Games - Ebony gaming boards including Senet ,Food and Wine - 30 jars of wine, Perfume, oils and ointments. Human beings have been striving since time immemorial to find ways to live forever. The elaborate planning, execution and implementation as exemplified by Ancient Egypt, i.e. the use of anthropoid or mummy form were all designed to ease the spiritual transition and the exhaustive list as the one above, clearly shows the level of commitment  to the whole Mummification process. King Tut’s tomb lay forgotten for over three millennia only to be accidentally discovered accidentally by Howard Carter. One suggested  reason why Tutankhamun was not featured as one of the classical Pharaohs of Egypt was probably due to General  Horemheb, the last ruler of the 18th Dynasty, who took over from the Vizier  Aj, who took credit for most  of the boy-king's work, including a restoration stele that records the reinstallation of the old religion of Amun and the reopening and rebuilding of the temples of Karnak and Luxor.Though again we should not forget that the General and the Vizier were the actual rulers by proxy during the boy king’s reign.  

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