What’s the First Thing You Ever Made, Troy Gua?

While I remember drawing non-stop from the time I could put pencil to the backside of my father’s office letterhead, the first thing I specifically remember making was a miniature reproduction of King Tut’s tomb. It was 1978, and Seattle Art Museum had brought the traveling exhibition “The Treasures of Tutankhamun” to the Seattle Center. The exhibition was an international sensation (many recall Steve Martin’s hit song “King Tut”), drawing 1.3 million visitors in Seattle.


I was obsessed. I could think or dream of nothing during those few months other than King Tut and his glorious golden treasures and the amazing story of Howard Carter’s discovery. I collected newspaper clippings, begged my mom to buy the magazines we saw at the grocery store, researched at the school library and pored over everything I could get my little first grader’s hands on. I made drawings of each piece of furniture, each statue, each piece of clothing, each vessel, *all* of it. I couldn’t get enough.

There was a little mom and pop grocery store down the street from our suburban subdivision near the airport, and my buddies and I frequented the joint, stocking up on candy and soda for our busy afternoon and weekend bike tours of the neighborhood. I noticed a new product one day: a tiny Egyptian sarcophagus filled with candies. Mine. I coveted it. I emptied the little casket of its contents and I decided to set about making a tomb to rest it in. Using one of the magazine’s diagrams of the actual tomb in the Valley of the Kings as a guide, I procured some corrugated cardboard, mom’s scissors, Elmer’s glue, and Scotch tape and set up work space on the dining room table. I got to work and soon I had a little tomb. I made a little mummy from a pencil stub wrapped in tape and gauze and sealed it inside the plastic sarcophagus.

Now, where to bury it?  Mom offered a vacant flower bed in the back yard, butted up to the house. Perfect. I dug for what seemed like all day and when I got as deep as I felt necessary, which was probably no more than a foot or so, I carefully set the minitomb into the hole and replaced the soil on top of it. I was so proud. A few days in, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the little tomb. I began to worry about it. What was happening to it? I asked mom if it was ok to dig it up. She said no, that wouldn’t be a good idea, I might disturb the mummy and unleash a curse. That worked for a while, but not long and I was digging it up.

It was gone. Nothing there. No tomb, no sarcophagus, no mummy. A true mystery never to be solved. I assume mom dug it up to plant roses, but she never said so and I never asked. Spooky.

-o(:-]}Troy Gua was born and raised in Seatac, Washington. He’s a Libra. He prefers the term self-actualized to self-taught, but will answer to either. More about him and his work can be found at www.troygua.com.