One Saturday afternoon some years ago, I took my children to the WestEnd Branch Library for a community youth presentation. I don’t remember the much about the program except for an older brother’s pointing out the slick disrespect in saying King Tut. “We don’t call Victoria, Vicki or Louis XVI, Sweet Lou!” he continued “And they push it on the youth”. He was angry at the insult and the methodology. Still you could hear his pain as he passionately beseech all in attendance not to call Tutankhamun King Tut anymore. Honestly, I had never given it a second thought before and I’ve held a healthy intrigued for Tutankhamun since I was a kid entertaining the family with my hokey impression of Steve Martin’s novelty song “King Tut” .
I see you smirking just don’t ask to see me do it.
All jokes and agendas aside, there’s no denying it is a cool sounding nickname that seemingly adds to the magnificent of the celebrated monarch still the wise older brother in the library was right. The moniker “King Tut” is a Turpificatus Adpellatio that is Latin for a Corrupted Name. This begs the question, what and whose name is being corrupted? And that depends on how you choose to render the Pharaoh’s actual name. It is agreed Tut Ankh Amun means The Living Image of Amun (or God) however the historically and culturally accurate rendering is Amun Tut Ankh, literally Amun (or God’s) Image Living. You don’t have to be to clever to figure out the comparatively shallow meaning of King Tut – King Image.
Ever since Carter and Herbert pillaged Tutankhamun’s final resting place in 1922, western civilization has been mystified by the Egyptian Ruler’s associated imagery and its exploitable commercial appeal. More so than any other ancient Egyptian save Cleopatra, Tutankhamun is the reason why hieroglyphs and Egyptian motifs proliferated films, comics, and cartoons in the 1930s and 1940s. In the past nearly 100 years, Exhibits of Tutankhamun’s artifacts, treasures, and affects plus merchandising and media have generated $100s of millions of dollars worldwide. Many Egyptology enthusiast believe that Kemetic (Ancient Egyptian) words have vibratory power that transcends the long gone practical use of the language. With earnings like that associated with a sobriquet that conveys preeminent image I’m nearly convinced. Its no wonder the most prominent controversy surrounding Tutankhamun is his accurate appearance instead of his accurate name.
Of course any inaccuracy should be corrected and I’ve decided to actively champion this one in support of the wise older brother at the library and the Egyptians themselves who The Crisis Magazine Jun-Jul 1978 issue quoted as saying,
“DON’T call him ‘Tut’ !”,
as record breaking crowds gathered at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to see God’s Image Living.