Head of Tutankhamun is of New kingdom of Dynasty 18, ca 1336-1327 B.C. of reign of Tutankhamun and is an Egyptian sculpture. It is made up of indurated limestone and represents the boy-king Tutankhamun. The sculpture is small in size, appearing more so due to large hand placed at the back of sculpture’s head. The sculpture is only a fragment of complete status. This paper would focus on the ekphrasis and the visual analysis of the head of Tutankhamun to identify and gather significant information about the art of the time this sculpture is a representation of.
The head of the king Tutankhamun is a beautiful sculpture and is an illustration of boy-king. The sculpture communicates the young age of the king. The sculpture of head shows the king as a young person and also captures vividly the frailty of the king which is established by the recent publications about the health of king Tutankhamun. He was known to be fragile and unhealthy and this has been captured well in the sculpture by the artist. The tenderness and innocence of the young age is well depicted in the sculpture which indicates towards the boyhood of the king and supports the researches that Tutankhamun was coronated in his early years of life.
Other than face of the king, captured vibrantly by the artist, there is a hand also visible in the sculpture placed at the back of the king’s head. The hand is quite large in comparison to the head of king and is represented to belong to god Amun. God’s of the Egypt were believed to bless kings during their coronation ceremony as one of the rituals. The god Amun was the highest deity in ancient Egypt and hence, its blessing is depicted in the sculpture. This representation assists in interpretation that this sculpture is the representation of the crowning ceremony of young king supported by the two facts; one, that the king appears young in the sculpture and second, the researches states that Tutankhamun was made king in young age. Hence, the interpretation that this sculpture specifically represents the coronation ceremony of king is correct. The hand of god on king’s head also support the claim that in ancient Egypt, the blessings of God was not used to be like patting the head, instead it’s like touching the head to approve of the king and to demonstrate that god is with the king. This feature is represented in the sculpture where god’s hand only touches the back of king’s head and is not positioned above the head. The legitimization and confirmation of the king status of Tutankhamun by God is depicted specifically to convey the message that god supports the otherwise frail and young ruler.
The sculpture significantly depicts the post-Armana style of creation. This artistic language appeared during the late years of reign of King Akhenaten. Armana period art emerged during initial years of reign of Akhenaten (ca. 1352-1336 B.C.) and became popular. It was completely contrary to prevalent art of Egyptian traditions which involved emphasizing of unpleasant features. The art became smoother, less aggressive and exhibited sensitivity and special elegance, supported by the firm establishment of new residence of Armana and thriving of artistic language represented by smooth and pleasant features during the later years of Akhenaten reign. Post-Armana style is derived out of this style, representing art in smooth and sensitive manner. The head of Tutankhanum is an excellent illustration of post-Armana style as it poses King in elegant and sensitive manner. The depiction of king’s boyhood, innocence and frailty in this sculpture speaks the volume about the grace and efficacy of post-Armana art language. The treatment of the surface of sculpture deserves special attention. The surface is treated differently for crown and for depicting facial features. The crown, represented is probably the blue crown which is famous. The design of this blue crown matches with the design of crown depicted in sculpture as it comprised of leather cap of blue color on which metal paillettes of small size were sewn. The artist has beautifully captured the remarkable crown in the sculpture. The representation of crown in the form of concave disks of metal sculpted in limestone sculpture gives the surface the shimmering appearance which is strikingly contrasting to the smoothness of the flesh of face captured in an amazing sensitive manner by the artist.
The artistic representation of the sculpture is well-defined by the smile on the face of Tutankhamun sculpture. Here, the sculpture differs widely from the sculptures of ancient Egypt where the facial features of the sculptures were never ornamented with smile and always depicted stiff expressions and flat and compressed lips. This sculpture depicts the smile in excellent manner in which the upper lip arches to bow shape and the soft muscles of the mouth region sinks to give the effect of smile. This sculpture is probable the best work demonstrating the post-Armana and Armana art. The stone on which this sculpture is drawn also speaks of the post-Armana times where the smooth treatment of surface was thriving and this limestone, which is almost marble like has the surface to allow its smooth treatment.
Museum, Art. "Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History." The Metropolitan Museum of Art. October 2010. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/50.6 (accessed October 11, 2011).