Egypt in Dubai

Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 7 Oct 2021

Egypt’s pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai explores the story of Egypt and celebrates a vision of a prosperous future for all

Expo 2020 Dubai
Expo 2020 Dubai

Egypt is participating in the Expo 2020 Dubai, which opened in the UAE on 1 October, with a pavilion featuring elements of ancient Egyptian civilisation, with hieroglyphic texts decorating its walls and images of the golden boy-king Tutankhamun, reports Nevine El-Aref.

The main entrance to the pavilion is a triangularly built gate simulating the design of the Pyramids. More than 14 areas within the Egyptian pavilion portray the different periods of ancient Egyptian civilisation and the country’s modern achievements and infrastructure.

Egypt has sent an anthropoid painted coffin of the priest Psamtik, the son of the god Osiris, and five replicas of the goddess Maat from king Tutankhamun’s collection to the Expo, along with a group of promotional videos on tourist destinations in Egypt and the new Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM).

The painted coffin of Psamtik is at the centre of the pavilion. It was found in a group burial by a Supreme Council of Antiquites (SCA) mission working at the Bubastian Necropolis in Saqqara and is one of a collection of coffins probably belonging to priests of the goddess Bastet and their families.

The coffin is made out of painted wood and decorated with a large floral wesekh (collar) ending with two falcon heads. Beneath this, the sky goddess Nut spreads her wings and holds two maat (truth and justice) feathers. The middle part is decorated with inscriptions of offering texts and speeches of the gods edged by two rows of gods holding sceptres in their hands. At the bottom, two figures of the god Anubis face the deceased.

The Egyptian pavilion also includes replicas of five objects from king Tutankhamun’s funerary collection, including the golden mask of the king, sarcophagus, Ka-guardian statue, special occasions chair, and golden throne decorated with the goddess Maat.

Maat is the deity associated with truth, justice, balance, and rightness. She is recognised by an ostrich feather worn on her head. The uraeus snake above her forehead is a symbol of gods and kings and represents a protective cobra spitting fire at enemies. Maat was the daughter of the sun god Re and the wife of Thoth, the god of knowledge, wisdom, writing, science and art.

The golden burial mask of Tutankhamun is made out of solid gold and precious stones and is one of the most famous and the most valuable objects in the world. Instantly recognisable, the perfect face of the young king is an icon of ancient and modern Egypt.

The mask was found inside the burial chamber of Tutankhamun’s tomb placed over the head and shoulders of the dead king’s mummified remains that were safe inside his coffins, sarcophagus, and shrines.  

He is made to look like the god Osiris, ruler of the underworld, and the sun god Re, whose body was made of gold and hair of lapis lazuli. This is a perfect version of Tutankhamun’s face, recognisable from his coffins, statues, and temple reliefs.

The original golden throne of Tutankhamun is a beautifully decorated armchair found wrapped in linen in the antechamber of Tutankhamun’s tomb. Stools were used by almost everyone, but only the very rich had chairs in ancient Egypt.

The throne is made of wood covered with sheets of gold and silver and inlaid with glass, faience, and precious stones. The chair’s arms are formed from winged uraeus snakes holding the king’s royal name.

The scene on the backrest shows Tutankhamun and his wife queen Ankhesenamun relaxing under a floral canopy. Their skin is made of red glass, while their pleated clothing is shaped out of silver and gold foil.

The guardian statues of Tutankhamun are two black-and-gold life-sized portrait statues of the king found standing face to face in front of the sealed entrance to the burial chamber inside his tomb.

Both hold a staff in their left hand and a mace in their right. They are similar but not identical, as one is wearing a khat headdress, while the other has a nemes headcloth with two long pieces hanging down either side of his neck.

A replica of the inner coffin of Tutankhamun is also on display. It was found inside the two other coffins of the boy king.

In 1922, British archaeologist Howard Carter uncovered three golden coffins nested inside each other inside the stone sarcophagus of Tutankhamun. Each one is anthropoid and shows the king as a mummified figure with crossed hands.

The outer coffin is made of wood covered in sheet gold, the middle coffin is made of wood covered with coloured glass and precious stones, and the inner coffin is made from solid gold. The lids and boxes of each were secured with gold and silver nails, and on every coffin winged goddesses in human and bird forms wrap their arms protectively around the king.

At the Egyptian pavilion in Dubai, the display also includes a collection of images and films promoting tourist destinations in Egypt, archaeological sites, and the GEM, together with a set of promotional paintings, designs, and drawings using ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic writing symbols.

Ahmed Maghawri, head of commercial representation and general commissioner for the Egyptian participation at Expo 2020 Dubai, said that 10,000 visitors went to the Egyptian pavilion in the pilot phase before the official launch of the exhibition.

The Egyptian pavilion has been very successful in attracting visitors, and 242 prominent figures, heads of state, artists, and celebrities are expected to visit the pavilion, which will help introduce the world to Egyptian civilisation.

 “Egypt has been granted a massive, first-class pavilion and has a great location in Expo 2020 Dubai. Twenty-five million visitors are expected to visit the overall exhibition and enjoy displays of archaeological collections that reflect the identity of Egyptian civilisation,” Maghawri said.

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