Saturday, June 7, 2008
Everywhere The Glint Of Gold
I am slightly saddened that the best I can post is a picture of a book cover but photography was not allowed at the Tutankhamun exhibition and, deep down, I was mildly relieved. I find that photography very often gets in the way of enjoyment; when you're in a 'blink and you'll miss it' situation, clutching a camera is the sure-way to missing it. As is often the case when I attend an exhibition, I felt my heart skipping in my chest as I was waiting to enter, clutching tightly my recorded guide and imagining what was only finally just a wall away. Tut's funeral mask (the face he is known as, even though it is not a very good likeness of the king since it was destined for someone other than he) was not at this exhibition because deemed too fragile to travel. My friend was lucky enough to have seen this (and the sarcophagi) the last time this exhibition came to London, over 35 years ago, but I was smitten all the same, because one coffinette was there, as was a marvellous wooden bust of the king as a child.
The videos and images were also extremely interesting, for they showed the CAT scans of the mummy and what it looked like upon first opening of the sarcophagi. I shuffled from artifact to artifact with my eyes wide open, photographing everything with my retina, trying desperately to impress my memory for ever. Looking at his shrivelled face made me feel awkward, as if I had been intruding into something intimate that should have remained shrouded from wanton eyes. Did he have an inkling in his lifetime that he would have become one of the world's most famous historical figures, one whose face is, and has been, recognizable across continents and all eras, across cultures and languages? Unlikely. And to think that he was only a boy king is even more fascinating in the mysterious show still going on that is Tutankhamun's reign, one that lives on, so many centuries after he.