Egyptian Cartonnage Mummy Mask


An Egyptian polychrome mummy mask made from cartonnage. Designed for a female, the face has been gilded to imitate the golden skin of the gods. Likewise, the surrounding hair has been represented in a dark, smoky blue, in an attempt to recreate the lapis lazuli locks of the deities. The lotus flower has been depicted to the sides and top, framing the face.

Date: Circa 323-30 BC
Period: Ptolemaic Period
Condition: Excellent condition; professionally conserved and backed.


Cartonnage was a material used to shroud mummies, as well as to make masks and panels on which to paint. It involved layering fibres or papyrus to create an even and smooth surface, and cutting particular layers to produce the desired shape. Plaster was then added on top, and, when it had dried, the cartonnage was brightly painted with elaborate patterns. These usually consisted of geometric shapes, deities, and inscriptions. Cartonnage enjoyed widespread use from the First Intermediate Period all the way into the Roman era.

In Ancient Egyptian mythology, the lotus was a symbol of rebirth, and often associated with the cult of Osiris. Its associations with resurrection and new life in the underworld derive in large part from the fact that it rises in the morning and submerges at night.

Weight 1500 g
Dimensions H 37 cm