Carlton Ware World banner
Boy King has close shave

In January 2015 Associated Press reported that the famous King Tutankhamun’s 3,300 year-old gold funerary mask had been damaged and hastily 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 Geoage Coles 1930
Carlton Cinema by architect George Coles 1930. London N1.
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. I estimate the pattern to have been introduced in 1923 by the newly appointed Enoch Boulton, who had replaced Horace Wain as decorating manager and designer.

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 or not?

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 portrayals, this being the head of the Sphinx on the Embankment in London, cast in 1881. I show it next to Tutankhamun's mask and the Carlton Ware finial. Below them are pictures of the guardian statues of the Pharaoh 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 as shown 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. Small edits July 2023.

December 2015 . Damage to the mask has since been properly repaired by German and Egyptian experts and Tut is back on display.

This website is image rich and is intended to be viewed on devices with larger screens such as tablets, laptops and desktops. Although it can be viewed on smartphones you will get a poorer viewing experience.

Harvey Pettit © Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.