Mummy Mask and Cartonnage


Mummy Mask and Cartonnage  [ edit ]

These six gilded and decorated cartonnage pieces were formed from linen soaked in plaster, similar to modern papier mâché, and molded to fit the tightly bound mummy beneath. During the Ptolemaic Period, instead of encasing the entire mummy in decorated wrappings, the deceased was prepared with plaques that represented critical motifs depicting his/her blessed state and regeneration in the afterlife. The use of mummification and the inclusion of the four sons of Horus (flanking the Djed-pillar in the third plaque) associated the deceased with the god of the underworld, Osiris. The inclusion of the sun-disk atop the gilded mask and the winged sun-disk upon the chest represent the divine solar rays of the god Re. During the journey through the underworld, Osiris was revived by the transformative properties of the sun rays of Re. The sophisticated combination of religious elements symbolizes this moment of unity between Osiris and Re, and furnishes those regenerative properties upon the deceased.

The winged sun-disk, displayed above the pectoral in the second plaque, served dual purposes. In temple architecture, the winged sun-disk is located above major doorways guarding the thoroughfare, the wings lifting the sun-disk aloft, the flanking cobras shooting out fiery, protective rays. Here, too, the winged sun-disk, flanked by cobras, soars above a depiction of a temple portal (bottom, center) embedded within the pectoral. Positioned directly below the mask, the sun-disk bathed the face with the divine glow of Re, while guarding the portal to the heart.




Abydos, Tomb E422


Yale Peabody Museum

Accession Number

ANT 006835

Darnell, J.C. The Enigmatic Netherworld Books of the Solar-Osirian Unity: Cryptographic Compositions in the Tombs of Tutankhamun, Ramesses VI, and Ramesses IX. Freiburg: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2004.

Dunand, F., & R. Lichtenberg. Mummies and Death in Egypt, translated by David Lorton. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006.