Mannequin of Tutankhamun

New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Tutankhamun, ca. 1336-1327 BC 

Wood, Gesso, Pigment 

Valley of the Kings, KV 62, Tomb of Tutankhamun, Antechamber  

Excavated by H. Carter for Lord Carnarvon in 1922 

JE 60722= SR 1/ 3130 = Carter 116 

By Nicholas Brown, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, University of California, Los Angeles.


This is a life-size model of king Tutankhamun, depicting him from the waist up wearing a white linen tunic and yellow, flat-topped crown. The crown is painted yellow, possibly to imitate gold, but what type of crown it is meant to represent is not known. The god Amun wears a similar-shaped headdress, but the lack of a divine beard or the two feather plumes typical of this god’s regalia suggest this is not meant to represent the king in divine form. Additionally, there is one scene of king Akhenaten wearing such a crown from Amarna, but its purpose and meaning is unknown. On the front of the crown, a cobra is attached and made from gilded wood and painted in black and red; its tail is outlined in red paint on the crown itself with two coils of its body. This cobra represents the goddess Wadjet, who typically is shown as a serpent at the king’s brow, ready to strike anyone who should do potential harm to the king. 

Tutankhamun’s skin is painted a dark red, the traditional color used by ancient Egyptian artisans to depict men. Touches of red paint were also added to the corners of the king’s eyes to make them appear more life-like. The facial features of this model share typical characteristics with three-dimensional portraits of Tutankhamun: the face is triangular in shape with high cheekbones, there are deep depressions between the eyebrows and upper eyelids, while the eyes are naturally shaped with inner-sloping canthi, and the mouth is characterized by lips with a slight downward curve. The king’s earlobes are pierced and possibly once held a pair of earrings. The pierced ears are a New Kingdom trait of royal male portraiture, and depictions of kings with perforations in the ear start around the mid-18th Dynasty. Tutankhamun’s mummy shows that he had pierced ears, and several pairs of earrings were discovered within the tomb (such as: JE 61969/Carter 269a(1); JE 61972/Carter 269a(2)).  

This piece was found partially hidden amongst the disassembled chariots in the Antechamber of Tutankhamun’s tomb. It seems doubtful that this image could have functioned for Tutankhamun as a ka-statue- a vessel that the king’s spirit could inhabit during offering rituals to receive sustenance and goods for the afterlife. Some examples from the Old Kingdom that are missing their limbs, like the famous statue of Prince Ankhhaf (MFA, Boston 27.442), indicate that they were placed in niches that had pre-carved arms outstretched to receive offerings. However, the lack of dowel holes on the undersides of the truncated arms, and the find-spot of the model within Tutankhamun’s tomb, implies that this statue was not used in such a manner. Howard Carter suggested that this artifact possibly served as a mannequin of sorts, either to hold Tutankhamun’s clothes and jewelry in the palace or to be used as a life-size model for the royal dressmakers. Marks on the surface suggest that it once wore a jeweled corselet, perhaps like the one example found within the Antechamber of Tutankhamun’s tomb (JE 62627/Carter 54k). 

Suggested Further Readings:

  • Carter, Howard and Arthur C. Mace. 1963 (reprint). The Tomb of Tutankhamun. Vol. 1. New York, NY: Cooper Square Publishers, Inc. 120. 
  • Hawass, Zahi. 2005. Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. Washington D.C.: National Geographic. 14-15. 
  • El Ridy, Karim M. and Seham M. H. Shaheen. Forthcoming. “A Mannequin in a Religious Context.” In Proceedings of the 4th International Tutankhamun GEM Conference, Cairo, May 2018. Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities Press.  

Model courtesy of David Anderson, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse ( and