Cartouche Shaped Box of Tutankhamun
The cartouche shaped box carries the name of Tutankhamun, executed in the most handsome hieroglyphs, made up of ebony and stained ivory. Less grand, but still elegantly formed, hieroglyphs are used for the many texts which are incised and filled with blue paint on the upper rim of the lid, surrounding the cartouche, and in three bands on the body of the box.
They all include extended titularies of the king with a wealth of epithets establishing his authority at home and his power over foreign lands. Upon discovery, the box contained many items including two crooks and two flails. It is considered a significant archaeological find and provides insights into the art and culture of ancient Egypt during Tutankhamun’s reign.
In ancient Egypt, a cartouche was a distinctive oval shape with a horizontal line at one end, used to enclose the names of kings and other important individuals. It served as a royal nameplate or a protective amulet, symbolizing the eternal and divine nature of the person whose name was inscribed within it.
Inlay refers to the process of embedding materials such as precious metals, gemstones, faience, or colored glass into the surface of an object to create decorative patterns or designs.
The cartouche was typically adorned with hieroglyphic symbols and was often found on monuments, tombs, and other significant artifacts. It played a crucial role in ancient Egyptian art, hieroglyphic writing, and the identification of rulers and deities.
Here, the hieroglyphs render Tutankhamun’s nomen ‘Tut-ankh-imen, heqa iunu shemau’, the living image of Amun, Ruler of Southern Heliopolis.
The inlaid cartouche shaped box of Tutankhamun showcases the skilled craftsmanship and attention to detail that was prevalent in ancient Egyptian art. It is considered a remarkable example of the artistic and cultural achievements of the time.
New Kingdom, late 18th Dynasty, reign of Tutankhamun, ca. 1332-1323 BC. From the Tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62). Grand Egyptian Museum, GEM 242