History Embalmed

Tutankhamun Tomb Paintings

The tomb of King Tut contained breathtaking treasures but it also contained some wonderful tomb paintings and scenes. Each wall of the tomb has a specific theme. The East Wall depicts the Funeral Procession, the West Wall contains text from the Amduat, the South Wall depicts his arrival in the Underworld and the North Wall of the tomb shows the arrival of Tutankhamun in the Afterlife. The tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered by the English Egyptologist Howard Carter in November 1922. There were so many artefacts in the tomb of King Tut that Howard Carter spent 10 years clearing and cataloguing the artefacts. These treasures tell of many secrets about the life of King Tut. But   what did the Tutankhamun tomb paintings and scenes depict, what secrets do they hold? What clues do they contain about the life and, more importantly, the beliefs of King Tut?

Location of the King Tut Tomb Paintings
Due to the early and untimely death of the young King Tutankhamun only his burial chamber received decorations. The centre of the burial chamber contained the golden colored shrines which housed the large red quartzite sarcophagus, coffins and mummy of Tutankhamun. King Tut is associated with gold and all of the walls of the burial chamber have the same golden background making an ideal background to the tomb paintings.

Ancient Egyptian Art Style of the Tutankhamun Tomb Paintings
The Ancient Egyptians used art to idealise the person who was being depicted. Therefore the Tutankhamun tomb paintings conveyed a happy and orderly lifestyle. The Egyptian art style depicted all figures as young and healthy. The figures of people were drawn in profile, with one eye and both shoulders shown frontally and the legs where seen sidewise. The largest figure shown on tomb paintings was that of the occupant, in this case Tutankhamun, regardless of the actual height of the deceased (Tutankhamun was approximately 5ft 6ins).

Colors of the Tutankhamun Tomb Paintings
The colors traditionally used in tomb paintings showed that the body of a man painted as a dark reddish-brown color.  The body of a woman was painted as lighter, yellowish-brown color. These differences in colors represented the mainly outdoor life of a man as opposed to the more secluded lifestyle of a woman. The colors used in paintings are highly symbolic and these symbolisms apply to the colors of the Tutankhamun tomb paintings. Six basic colors were used in Ancient Egyptian art and paintings - white, black, red, yellow, blue and green. A tiny pestle and mortar was used for grinding colors. The colors used were symbolic and all had different meanings. This symbolism of colors was used to great effect when depicting the images and characteristics of the various Ancient Egyptian pharaohs, gods and goddesses. 

  • White color - White represented purity, power and greatness, a sacred color
  • Black color - Black represented death and the night
  • Red color - Red represented life and victory. It was also used to convey anger
  • Yellow color - Yellow was often used to represent gold and therefore used to convey that the subject was imperishable and indestructible. The eternal color used to depict the the sun god
  • Blue color - Blue represented water, the sky, life, fertility and re-birth
  • Green color - Green was the color of vegetation and represented new life

Tutankhamun Tomb Paintings on the East Wall - The Funeral Procession of King Tut
The Tutankhamun Tomb Paintings on the on the east wall depict the following scenes and images:

  • These paintings provide images of the funeral procession of King Tut
  • The mummy of Tutankhamun mummy is depicted being pulled on a sledge
  • The 12 people who are symbolically hauling the sledge were all extremely important people to King Tut
  • They are all depicted wearing white sandals which were worn at holy or sacred ceremonies. The white headbands were also worn at funerals
  • There are 12 images in total consisting of one group of 5 people, three groups of 2 people and one lone figure
  • Some of the figures can be recognised by their clothing in these tomb paintings:
    • Ay, the successor to the throne, is recognised as he wears the royal crown
    • The two viziers
    • Possibly Maya who was King Tut's chief treasurer
    • Possibly General Horemheb
    • Possibly High priests

Tutankhamun Tomb Paintings on the West Wall - Text from the Amduat
The Tutankhamun Tomb Paintings on the west wall depict the following scenes and images:

  • Magical text taken from the royal funerary book called the Amduat detailing for Tutankhamun a safe route through the Underworld. Although the Book of the Dead is probably the most well known book it was originally used by commoners and was basically a collection of magic spells
    • The Amduat is the oldest of all the funerary texts
    • The Amduat is the Book of the Secret Chamber and means "That Which Is in the Underworld"
    • The Amduat details the sun god's journey through the 12 divisions of the underworld starting in the west and ending with the  newborn sun in the East
    • The 12 divisions of the Amduat correspond to the 12 hours of the night
    • Images of 12 baboons are depicted which are representative of the 12 hours of the night
  • There are also images of the solar barque and Tutankhamun in the image of Osiris

Tutankhamun Tomb Paintings on the South Wall - his arrival in the Underworld
The Tutankhamun Tomb Paintings on the south wall depict the following scenes and images:

  • King Tut is followed by Anubis as he appears before Nekhbet (the embodiment of Hathor) the patron goddess of Upper Egypt, the personification of the south, who was associated with the vulture  and one of the two goddesses who were together known as the 'two ladies of the pharaoh' whose special purpose was to protect the Pharaoh (Wadjet and Nekhbet)
  • Tutankhamun is welcomed into the underworld by Hathor, Anubis and Isis in this tomb painting

Tutankhamun Tomb Paintings on the North Wall - His arrival in the Afterlife
The Tutankhamun Tomb Paintings on the north wall depict the following scenes and images:

  • There are three separate scenes
  • It should be noted that the Pharaoh was seen as the embodiment of Horus who was the son of Osiris, protected by Nekhbet and Wadjet, the son of Re, and called Osiris when he finally died
  • The new Pharaoh, Ay, officiating as a priest dressed in the leopard skin, performing "the opening of the mouth" ceremony before the mummy during Tutankhamun's funeral
  • Tutankhamun entering the realm of the gods in the afterlife and being welcomed there by the sky goddess Nut
  • Three separate images of King Tut depicted in these tomb paintings:
    • Tutankhamun, as the living embodiment of Horus who was the son of Osiris, wearing the double crown with the uraeus complete with the flail and crook regalia
    • Tutankhamun depicted as Osiris the father of all Egypt
    • Tutankhamun depicted as his Ka
    • These images can be interpreted as Tutankhamun depicted as the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit
      • This particular scene, depicting the three representations of Tutankhamun as a deity, appear to mirror the fundamental belief of the Christian religion

Tutankhamun Tomb Paintings
Each section of this website addresses all topics and provides interesting facts and information about the Golden Age of Pharaohs and of Egypt. The Sitemap provides full details of all of the information and facts provided about the fascinating subject of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun and his Tomb Paintings

Tomb of King Tut

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