Puzzle of King Tut's Inner-Coffin as Recreational Activity
The King Tutankhamun jigsaw puzzle consists of 1000 individual, cardboard pieces which fit perfectly together to form a 13.75 X 38.5 inch portrait of his inner-coffin. It serves a dual purpose, not only as a two-dimensional replica of King Tut's coffin, but also as a form of recreational activity. The fun lies in methodically assembling the pieces together to create a desired image. Its intended consumer ranges from kids to adults. The puzzle can be found in the gift section at the UCSD bookstore. The bookstore is located in the middle of a college campus, primarily dependent on the patronage of college students. As its name suggests, it mainly sells textbooks for college courses, as well as clothing, school supplies, and assorted gifts.
While the puzzle functions as an entertaining diversion, the actual inner-coffin of King Tutankhamun served a much more significant role. The discovery ...view middle of the document...
They paid particular attention to the quality and extravagance of his inner-coffin, where his remains reposed.
The marked difference in the function and significance of the jigsaw puzzle and King Tut's actual coffin is reflected in the monetary value placed on each item. The inner-coffin is made of several hundred pounds of solid gold which theoretically reproduced the bodily and facial features of King Tutankhamun. However, the level of accuracy to which it was done is not known. Colored enamel and semi-precious gemstones decorate its surface, as well as very finely incised linear designs and hieroglyphic inscriptions. The king is depicted as holding a crook and a flail, both symbols closely associated with Osiris, the god of the dead. Taken together with the coffin's historical significance, it is worth several million dollars. While the average consumer may not have the purchasing power to afford such a luxury, he or she can trot over to the UCSD bookstore and buy a jigsaw puzzle depicting its likeness for a scant $11.95. What a great deal, considering the hours of fun and enjoyment derived from putting the 1000 pieces together.
Considering the nature of the jigsaw puzzle as a merchandise item, the issue of marketability comes into play. FX Schmid, the manufacturer of the puzzle, must take the marketability and appeal of its product into account. When a consumer puts a jigsaw puzzle together, he or she is anticipating the completion of a whole image. From the manufacturer's standpoint, the exact nature of the image is key. By selecting a portrait of King Tut's inner-coffin, they are banking on the assumption that potential puzzle-seekers are at least familiar with the coffin as belonging to a famous Egyptian king. Of course, any additional insight can only add to the enjoyment of the puzzle. Otherwise, from a consumer's standpoint, putting together a picture of something totally unfamiliar would not be very interesting and fun. In light of the fact that Egyptian art and culture is taught very early in elementary school as well as throughout higher levels of education, FX Schmid's choice of King Tutankhamun's coffin is a good one, in my humble opinion.
Stokstad, Marilyn. 1995. Prentice Hall. Art History. Vol. 1, pg. 122