Carlton Ware World
26 January 2015
TUT TUT.
Boy King has close shave


The Associated Press has just reported that the famous King Tutankhamun’s Mask has recently been damaged and quickly repaired.

According to the report, the beard on the Pharaoh’s mask was detached during cleaning at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and was “hastily” glued back on with epoxy.

Carlton Ware TUT ginger jar with Tut finial.
Left Top - Tutankhamun's mask.   Left Bottom - 'Beard' of mask crudely glued back on.
Right - Carlton Ware ginger jar decorated with the TUT pattern and with Tut finial to cover. Powder Blue ground.

It's hard to believe that such a prized artifact could have been repaired so crudely - notice that the glue used has spilled out onto the king's chin. It looks like Araldite, which is used in repairing ceramics, though any restorer would be ashamed of such a repair.

Postcard of Carlton Cinema by George Coles 1930
Carlton Cinema by architect George Coles 1930. London N1.

Egyptomania

Howard Carter's discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in November 1922 began a phase of Egyptomania that influenced almost every aspect of design.

I couldn't resist showing the picture on the left of the Carlton Cinema built in 1930 in Essex Road, London. This image must have been taken shortly after the cinema opened because the film showing, In Old Arizona, was released in 1929.

Carlton Ware's TUT pattern is a fine example of catering to the craze and is estimated to have been introduced in 1923.

Tut's mask © Griffith Institute, University of Oxford
Gold mask revealed 25 October 1925,
partially cleaned. © Griffith Institute,
University of Oxford.
Jumping to conclusions

At first sight, the finial on the ginger jar shown above appears to have been copied from King Tut's mask, though it does not have a beard - its projection would have been too vulnerable to breakage. But was the gold mask inspiration for the finial?

The contents of the tomb took ten years to catalogue and Carter's diary tells us that the mask was not revealed until the lid to the innermost coffin was lifted on 28 October 1925. On the right is a picture taken shortly after the lid was removed and before the mask was extricated from the mummy and cleaned. This means that pictures of the mask can't have entered the public domain until the beginning of 1926 at the earliest.

Since Carlton Ware's TUT pattern was introduced in 1923, this suggests that either the finial was used on ware made from 1926 onwards, or that it was based on another similar representation of a Pharaoh or statuary.

Below is one example from many, this being the head of the Sphinx on the Embankment in London, cast in 1881. It is shown next to Tutankhamun's mask and the Carlton Ware finial. Below them are pictures of the guardian statues of Tut that Carter found at the entrance to the burial chamber. They are thought to be representations of Tut's soul or spiritual double after death. My guess is that the finial is based on the head of the guardian statue on the right in Harry Burton's brilliant documentary black and white photograph, released not long after the discovery. The statue has a black face, as does the finial.

TUT montage © Griffith Institute, University of Oxford
Top Row - Sphinx on London's Embankment, Tut's mask, Carlton Ware finial.
Bottom Row - Replica of guardian statue,
Harry Burton's photograph of the guardian statues at the entrance to the burial chamber © Griffith Institute, University of Oxford.
Detail of guardian statue of Tutankhamun, which stood to the right of the entrance.
We would like to thank the Griffith Institute, University of Oxford for permission to show the Harry Burton black & white pictures above, taken as the tomb was excavated. ❑

© Harvey Pettit 2015

December 2015. Damage to the mask has since been properly repaired by German and Egyptian experts and Tut is back on display as reported in the newspaper cutting below.

Newspaper Article on Tut repair
   Article from the Evening Standard 17 December 2015

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Harvey Pettit © Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.