Clothing and Jewelry: The Tombs of Kha and Hatnofre

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Clothing and Jewelry: The Tombs of Kha and Hatnofre


An Architect’s Tomb. The tomb of Kha and Merit, discovered by the Italian Egyptologist Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1906, is one of the three intact burial chambers found in Deir el Medina. Kha was the chief architect of Amenhotep III (circa 1390-1353 b.c.e.); his official title was “Chief of the Works in the Place of Truth,” which indicates that he was responsible for overseeing the construction of Amenhotep Ill’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Merit was probably his second wife. All of Kha’s and Merit’s belongings removed from their tomb are currently in the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy.

Kha’s Clothing. Kha was buried with fifty triangular loincloths, twenty-six knee-length kilts, seventeen sleeveless tunics, and four shawls. Seven of the loincloths and kilts were wrapped together. Surprisingly, some of the clothing in the tomb was dirty, although most was laundered. Almost all of the items showed characteristics of wear—they were torn, frayed, and mended, and all had laundry marks added in black ink.

Winter Clothing. Though sixteen of the seventeen linen tunics were all of the same weight, one of the tunics was heavier. Linen was produced from flax, which was beaten and spun and then woven on looms. The tunic was ornamented with woven bands at the hems on the side and neckline; it was wrapped in two cloaks, and kept in a linen sack. Worn with a shawl, this tunic would have kept Kha warm on a winter day.

Dressing Gown. Merit’s most important item of clothing found in the tomb was a dressing gown. It was made from a wide, fringed linen sheet, which was spotted with the oils from cosmetic cones that contained either perfume or insect repellant and were worn at parties.

Hatnofre’s Clothing. The tomb of Hatnofre, mother of Hatshepsut’s vizier, Senenmut, was excavated in 1936 by archaeologists from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Her clothing is presently in that museum. Hatnofre was buried wearing eighteen shawls and sheets of fine linen. The different shapes of dresses, which are represented in tomb paintings, would have been created by wrapping and knotting these sheets in various manners. She was also wrapped in two shirts that were fashioned into a loincloth.


Rosalie David, Handbook to Life in Ancient Egypt (New York: Facts on File, 1998), pp. 290–292.

Rosalind M. H. Janssen, “Costume in New Kingdom Egypt,” in Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, volume 1, edited by Jack M. Saasson (New York: Scribners, 1995), pp. 383–394.

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