Ancient Style Icon: King Tut Returns

 

King Tut Exhibit

This inlaid pectoral from the exhibition spells out the name of King Tutankhamun.

New York—Tutankhamun, the boy pharaoh who died at age 19 in 1323 B.C., once again may become a fashion icon as his treasures go on display today in New York.

“Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” opens today at the Discovery Times Square Exposition, marking the first time a collection of treasures from the young pharaoh’s tomb has visited the city since the groundbreaking 1979 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That exhibition triggered renewed interest in Egyptology and influenced fashion trends in a similar way that it did in 1922 when Tut’s tomb was unearthed.

At a lecture for the American Society of Jewelry Historians last night at Sotheby’s New York, senior vice president and jewelry expert Carol Elkins pointed out that “Egyptomania” influenced many of the major 19th and 20th century jewelers including Castellani, Cartier, Tiffany, Lalique, Van Cleef & Arpels, Boivin and many others. Tributes, inspirations and new collections are likely to follow suit as they have in the past, Elkins says, pointing to Egyptomanic influences in Art Deco designs in the 1920s and ‘30s. “Every culture from the Etruscans to the Romans to the 20th century has adapted and interpreted ancient Egyptian culture into their designs,” Elkin says. “We’ve seen that after the discovery of King Tut’s tomb and again in the late 1970s.” Due to the delicacy of the ancient Tut treasures, Elkins says this might be the last chance for Americans to see the treasures on North American soil.

Organized by National Geographic, Arts and Exhibitions International and AEG Exhibitions, “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” contains more than twice the number of artifacts shown previously, with more than 130 rare objects that provide a glimpse into the life royal in the 18thdynasty of ancient Egypt.

King Tut Exhibit

A gold falcon necklace found in his tomb.

“More than 5,000 beautifully preserved artifacts were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb, and the 50 selected for this exhibition—along with more than 80 from other royals—are among the most breathtaking objects of ancient Egypt. Tutankhamun’s remarkable treasures, from cosmetic contains to necklaces and other everyday objects to fine works of art, illustrate what life was like for Tutankhamum and the people of Egypt,” says exhibition curator Dr. David Silverman, an Egyptology professor and curator-in-charge of the Egyptian section at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. In addition to showing the relics, “our partnership with National Geographic allows us to explore in depth and put into context the mystery of Tutankhamun’s death using the marvels of modern CT scanning technology.” New material will focus on Tut’s death and the recent DNA testing that revealed further details about the boy king and his family.

A portion of the proceeds from the exhibition will help fund antiquity conversation efforts in Egypt, including building a new Grand Museum in Cairo that will house the most precious artifacts.

The exhibition continues through Jan. 2, 2011 with ticket prices ranging from $17.50 to $29.50. www.kingtutnyc.com

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