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Tutankhamun Walking Sticks

Tutankhamun Walking Sticks displayed in the Egyptian Museum. Most of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs and nobles were represented holding a cane or a staff as it was a sign of nobility as well as helping him to kneel upon it during the old age. In the tomb of Tutankhamun we found around 130 complete and fragmentary examples of sticks and canes from the Antechamber, the annex and the burial chamber. This led Carter to believe that Tutankhamun was an amateur collector of walking sticks or canes.

In the light of the recent DNA examination performed early in 2010 on the mummy of Tutankhamun, scientists discovered that he suffered from a disease (Avascular bone necrosis), which caused him to have a lame foot. This evidence gives a logical explanation for the presence of this vast collection of walking canes and sticks recovered from his tomb.
Many of the canes were clearly ritualistic while others showed signs of use. 


Tutankhamun Walking Sticks

 There were different types such as long staffs with knobbed and forked tops used for killing snakes, crooked sticks…etc.  Some of the canes and sticks in this showcase are made out of wood; some of them gilded and other sticks were just the upper part of the ceremonial fans held by attendants. The latter ones contain cartouches of King Tutankhamun; the coronation name and sometimes the birth name. 


We can see here there are several sticks or canes having curved ends these curved ends were decorated with enemies most probably these enemies were depicted upside down in order to ensure that they are under the subjugation of the king and that he has full control on them. The most important cane or stick here is the Cane with two prisoners. 

 Tutankhamun Walking Sticks

It was discovered among others and some bows and arrows inside an oblong box found in the Antechamber at the foot of the lion-headed funerary couch. It is made out of gilded bronze. Enemies were traditionally represented bound on temple walls, around bases of statues or even stretched out on the kings’ footstools. But here they are shown on the handle of the cane to be held in the hand of his majesty. 


The fertile imagination of the skilful artist has mixed the two enemies or prisoners together in a rare piece of art. The end of the cane takes the shape of two traditional enemies: one Nubian and the other Asiatic. The Nubian’s face, hands and feet are made out of ebony and he is represented wearing a short curly hair wig and a pleated garment with multicoloured streamers. 

Tutankhamun Walking Sticks

 While the Asiatic’s face, hands and feet are made out of ivory and he is represented with a beard and straight long hair while wearing a costume ornamented with ribbons and circular and floral motifs.  When the king grasped this cane, the prisoners were turned upside down and rendered harmless. At the other end of the cane, there is a papyrus umbel made of blue faience and inscribed on it a representation of the cartouche of the king (nb xprw ra)


There are 2 theories about the way these sticks were held:

1-    The king held the stick with the representation of Libyan and Nubian enemies under his hand in order to use the lower part of the stick to stamp his name on the ground. Some scholars refused this as the king will stamp his name everywhere in the ground and could be stepped on which is not acceptable as it will be under the people’s feet.

2-    The king held the stick from the end where the stamp is, while the part with the Nubian and Libyan was on the ground as another way of humiliation.