Unique Early 20th Century Egyptian Casket By Giuseppe Parvis
The casket is a copy of the jewel casket belonging to Yuya and Tuyu, Grandparents of Akhenaten and Great Grandparents of Tutankhamun, the original casket having been discovered in the Valley of the Kings (designated KV46) in 1905 and is now . Although not a royal tomb, at the time of the discovery of KV46, being some 15 years before the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, it was one of the most opulent tombs that had been found.
The present casket was made by the Italian designer Giuseppe Parvis who An elaborately decorated chest from the tomb of Yuya and Tjuya
A wooden box decorated in gold, ebony, ivory, and blue ceramic tiles may once have held jewellery. “… the object is one of the most striking in the tomb,” wrote archaeologist James Quibell in 1908
The present casket appears to be a one-off and was made by Giuseppe Parvis a soon after the the discovery of the tomb in 1905 and features in pride of place on a table at the front of one of Giuseppe Parvis’ exhibition stands Circa 1905-08 (please see images).
The casket is constructed from different types of wooden inlay over a wooden structure with ebony and faux-ivory stringing. The sides are decorated at the bottom with gilded ankh, djed, and was symbolising Life, Stability, and Power, respectively, set against a background of blue pigment. The names of Tiye and Amenhotep III, the daughter and son-in-law of Yuya and Tuyu, appear on the sides. The dual cartouches of Nebmaatre-Amenhotep III also appear on the lid of the box above gilded representations of Heh, (the god of “millions of years,” i.e. eternity) kneeling on nub signs. The decoration is carved and gilded with gold leaf over a gesso ground and the frieze is of cast and lacquered brass.
The piece has undergone comprehensive conservation and is of museum quality.
Giuseppe Parvis (1831 – after 1909) was, by, 1900 one of the most popular figures of Cairo. After studying at the Royal Academy of Turin from where he graduated with diplomas, Parvis arrived in Egypt in 1859 where he became one of the chief designers to the Khedive (the Viceroy of Egypt). The “Parvis” style was the ultimate in furnishing. He bought second-hand panels and turned them into a furniture style that he invented, the “arabesque” style which was so successful that many fashionable travellers who visited Egypt wished to acquire pieces. He decorated the palaces of Cairo and many others in Europe, and Asia. In 1867 Ismaïl Pasha called upon him to produce Arab-Egyptian furniture to be presented at the Universal Exhibition in Paris, then in Philadelphia in 1876, in Milan in 1881, and in Turin in 1884 for which he realised “the room and the Egyptian drawing-room”, in order to do this Parvis sought and gained permission to enter all the mosques and the main palace in Cairo, for inspiration. Much of the furniture of the Palace of Abdine and the other Palaces of the Khedive came out of the “parvis workshops” however, few pieces remain in private hands.