Erich Lessing

Shaped like an open lotus flower, the traditional symbol of Upper (southern) Egypt, this translucent alabaster cup, now in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum, was found in Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb by British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922. Like the “tree of life,” the lotus often symbolizes the fecundity of the earth or, as here, the health of the king, who is the earth’s steward. The hieroglyphic text below the rim of the cup wishes King Tut (1336‒1327 B.C.E.) long life and prosperity.