Tut Exhibit - King Tutankhamun Exhibit, Collection: Statues, Sculptures and Containers - Alabaster Chalice

The Tutankhamun Exhibit

Statues, Sculptures and Containers

An alabaster chalice, wishing the king "millions of years" of happily enjoying the cool breeze from the north

Alabaster Chalice

Carter reported that he had to step over this cup, which lay in the doorway, in order to get into the Antechamber. The cup itself, in the form of a white lotus, has petals carved in delicate low relief around its surface. An inscription carved within a rectangular outline gives the throne and personal names of the king and also refers to him as: "Beloved of Amon, Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands, and Lord of Heaven." The hieroglyphs along the rim are divided into two parts: one, giving the titulary of the king, begins with the falcon and reads left to right. The other inscription records an eloquent wish for long life: "May your ka (essential nature of an individual) live; May you spend millions of years, Oh, you who love Thebes, sitting with your face toward the north wind and your eyes beholding happiness".

This request led Carter to designate the piece as the "Wishing Cup". The message is carried further, however, extending even to the decoration of the handles. On either side an open flower is flanked by two buds. Atop the central element of each is the god of eternity, Heh, who also signified the number "one million". In each hand, he grasps the notched palm branch, the hieroglyph for "year" that rests on the tadpole ("one hundred thousand") and the sign for "infinity". Carved and filled with pigment, the hieroglyph ankh ("life"), is held in the god's hands, and the composition symbolizes life eternal.