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Tutankhamun's ivory-handled ostrich feather hand fan and decomposed persea fruit, box 272, 1927, by Harry Burton | by Photo Tractatus
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Tutankhamun's ivory-handled ostrich feather hand fan and decomposed persea fruit, box 272, 1927, by Harry Burton

By closely aligning the edges of his frame with the edge of this casket, found in the treasury of Tutankhamun, Burton creates a trompe-l'oeil effect of space. The photograph conveys a vivid sense of what it must have been like to lift the lid and see—so casually placed and so perfectly preserved—the pharaoh's opulent, ivory-handled ostrich feather hand fan in the simple wooden interior of the box. Lying with some decomposed persea fruit at the bottom of an otherwise empty box, the fan looks ready for use, but the feathers were almost too fragile to be lifted from the box. Removed with great care, the fan can now be seen in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo.

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Taken on January 14, 2009