Ancient Egyptian Gilded Funerary Cartonnage


An extremely fine and well-preserved Ancient Egyptian cartonnage panel, rendered in open work technique and finely gilded. The piece is composed of three symmetrical registers, with the first two showing the four sons of Horus, Imsety, Duamutef, Hapi, Qebehsenue, their bodies depicted mummiform with only the head protruding. The third register depicts two female figures, possibly the sisters Isis and Nephthys, portrayed genuflected making a gesture of mourning. Scenes depicting divine guardians or imaginary of the afterlife, usually appear on tombs, funerary composition and in the Book of the Dead.

Date: Circa 332-30 BC
Period: Ptolemaic Period
Provenance: From an early 20th century collection, Home counties, England, acquired 1920's-1940's and then by descent
Condition: Extremely fine, beautiful example.


SKU: FP-239 Category: Tags: ,

Such cartonnage would have been placed over the body of the deceased at their burial, mostly for decorative or protective purposes. According to mythology, the Four Sons of Horus each were attributed a different organ to protect. For Imsety, the liver; for Duamutef, the stomach; for Hapi, the lungs; and for Qebehsenuef, the intestines. As the heart was believed to be the resting place of the soul, it was not removed from the deceased. The brain, on the other hand, was thought to be inconsequential, so was scrambled to liquid, removed with metal hooks and then discarded. The four protected organs were removed from the body, embalmed, and then stored in their corresponding jar.

Weight 500 g
Dimensions L 15 x H 50 cm

Egyptian Mythology

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Reference: For a similar item, Bonham’s, 6th October, London, lot 46.