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The Alabaster Boat of of King Tutankhamun


The Alabaster Boat of of King Tutankhamun is considered one of the most beautiful pieces of the collection of King Tutankhamun. It was found in the annex of the tomb. The function of this boat is uncertain: it was either an unguent container or a perfume holder or most probably it was a centerpiece used during celebrations and ceremonies for decoration purposes because Howard Carter found it, it was covered with garlands of flowers.

 It consists of a boat mounted on a pedestal, both of which are decorated with floral and geometric motifs. It is thought that this basin might have been filled with water to complete the image of the decorative centerpiece. It is mounted upon short cylindrical legs. The basin is decorated with some features of the shrines, like the cavetto cornice and torus moulding.


The Alabaster Boat of of King Tutankhamun

The Alabaster Boat of of King Tutankhamun

The boat itself is represented with ibex or antelope heads at the prow and stern, both of those heads have real horns one of which is now missing and they are both facing the same direction. The second one is turned about 180 degree to face the same direction. At the prow a naked girl with a curly wig, wearing earrings, armlets and bracelets, is represented seated and holding in her hand a blue lotus.

At the stern, there is a dwarf standing naked and he is wearing a wig similar to the one worn by the girl. He is also wearing armlets and bracelets. When this piece was first discovered, he was holding a pole in his hand and most probably he was the helmsman who directed the boat.


Kinds of dwarfs in ancient Egypt:

1-Pygmies were in a small form of normal human and without any deformities. They were a species of African tribes that lived in Africa.
  
2-Dwarfs with pathological deformities: they had normal sized torso but short arms and legs the head was also big as they suffered from pathological or inherited deformities.


In the center of the boat, there is a cabin or kiosk supported at the four corners with columns having double capitals: papyrus set in lotus flowers. These columns support the roof of the kiosk and they are partly gilded. The kiosk is decorated with the same floral and geometric motifs as well as having the cavetto cornice and torus moulding.

The Alabaster Boat of of King Tutankhamun

At the side nearer the prow of the boat there are 3 cartouches bearing the names of the king and the queen. On either sides of the basin, there are lotus and papyrus flowers upon which there are two cobras. The one which is over the papyrus is wearing the red crown while the one over the lotus is wearing the white crown. There are also some signs: the Was – sign of prosperity, dominion and authority; the Djed – sign of stability and the Shen – sign of eternity.



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