2014/02/07

Vase in the Form of an Ibex

 Vase in the Form of an Ibex from Tutankhamun Collection


It was found in the Annex. It's made out of alabaster and the tongue is made out of ivory and it is protruding out of its mouth as to represent the animal while bleating. The ibex has one real horn while the other one is missing. The eyes are made from inlays of Bronze and glass paste. The short beard was broken.

Both the body and the pedestal are made from a single block of stone, but the ears and the tail were made separately and then attached to the body of the animal.


At the centre of the back, there is a hole that shows that the inside of the body is hollowed out to house the unguent or perfume. The stopper that closed the hole is missing. At the front, there is the cartouche of the king surmounted by two feathers and the solar disk.


Vase in the Form of an Ibex


It is considered one of the imaginative objects for the dressing table of royalty and the highly-placed in society. In fact, it is rather large for an ordinary dressing table and it was a puzzle to decide how it might have been used domestically. But fortunately now we have clues:

Searching medical prescriptions on the ancient Egyptian papyri, we find several recipes that use ibex  fat as an ingredient. One particular recipe is found in the Ebers Papyrus that might shed some light on why this container (and its contents) was placed among Tutankhamun’s belongings for the afterlife. Prescription 634 is intended to ‘soften’ a section of the knee.

 The ingredients - sea salt, honey, resin, celery, garlic, calamine, copper scrap, fat of a small cow, cumin, olive oil, natron, ibex fat as an ointment - should be crushed into a paste and placed in a bandage around the affected area. According to recent investigations, we now know that Tutankhamun suffered from a lame leg. Maybe this ibex-shaped container had more than just simple unguents; maybe it carried a magical medicine to ensure the king would have full use of his leg in the afterlife!