Egyptian Cartonnage with Winged Isis


A superb example of Egyptian cartonnage featuring a winged Isis, scarab, and mummies.  The cartonnage is split into two scenes via a border of alternating squares in red, white, and green. Both sections are multi-coloured, with hues of red, green, blue, and white, all on a creamy-beige background.

The top scene features a large scarab with extended wings, holding a red sun disk between its pincers and supporting a pair of mummies, which rest along the tips of the wings. There is another pair of mummies lying beneath the scarab. The wings are elaborately decorated with striped sections of green and blue.

The second scene depicts a kneeling, winged Isis, who holds the feather of Maat and the flail in each hand. The goddess is depicted without her typical throne headdress, and her wings are much the same as those of the scarab.



Date: Circa 4th - 1st Century BC
Period: Late Dynastic Period
Condition: Very fine condition; some damage due to age and its delicate nature.


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.

The winged scarab was a representation of the god, Khepri, who was in turn one of the manifestations of the sun-god, Ra. It frequently appeared as a symbol on cartonnage, and was believed to possess protective qualities. Ra (and so Khepri also) was a solar deity: accordingly, the rolling of the scarab beetle’s dung across the ground was thought to echo the journey of the sun across the sky. Khepri, as a manifestation of Ra, was regarded as the morning sun – the sun that first rises. This ideology would have been very powerful for the Egyptians, who placed great value on the journey to, and rebirth in, the afterlife.

Weight 75.9 g
Dimensions L 29.00 x W 21.5 cm

Egyptian Mythology