Ancient Egyptian Cartouche


What is a cartouche?

Ancient Egyptian Cartouche:
The modern French word designating the original Egyptian symbol called the shenu or shennu, “that which encircles,” a cartouche is an ellipse found in reliefs, paintings, sculpture, and papyri encircling certain royal names of the ancient pharaohs, starting in the Fourth Dynasty (2575–2465 B.C.E.).
Available on Amazon
The form evolved from the hieroglyph for eternity, a circle called the shen and symbolizing the course of the sun. In time,the form was elongated and used as a frame for the names of the pharaohs.
The double knot used in the symbol is an amulet of power. A stela depicting the royal name of Djet (Wadj; r. c. 2300 B.C.E.) was discovered at Abydos.  - From the Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt book by Margaret R. Bunson.
Ancient Egyptian Cartouche:
Elliptical outline representing a length of knotted rope with which certain elements of the ancient Egyptian royal titulary were surrounded. The French word cartouche, meaning 'gun cartridge', was originally given to the royal frame by Napoleon's soldiers and savants, because of its cartridge-like shape. From the 4th Dynasty (2613-2494 BC) onwards the line was drawn around the king's 'throne name' (prenomen or nesw-bit) and 'birth name' (nomen or sa Ra). It proved invaluable to early scholars such as Jean-Franyois Champollion who were attempting to decipher the hieroglyphic script, in that it was presumed to indicate which groups of signs were the royal names.
Available on Amazon

The cartouche was essentially an elongated form of the shen hieroglyph, and both signs signified the concept of 'encircling protection' denoted by a coil of rope folded and tied at the end. The physical extension of the original shen sign into a cartouche was evidently necessitated by the increasing length of royal names. The symbolic protection afforded by a cartouche, which may have been a diagram of the universe being encircled by the sun, is graphically illustrated by the choice of this sign for the shape of some 18th-and 19th-Dynasty sarcophagi, such as that of Merenptah (1213-1203 BC). Some of the early 18th-Dynasty burial chambers in the Valley of the Kings, as in the tomb of Thutmose III (1479-1425 BC) (Kv34), were also cartouche-shaped, thus allowing the king's mummy, like his name, to be physically surrounded by the cartouche. - From the Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Ian Shaw and Paul Nicholson.

Cleopatra Cartouches



Tutankhamun Cartouches



Nefertiti Cartouches



Ankh Cartouches



All Ancient Egyptian Cartouches

Ancient Egyptian Cartouche


What is a cartouche?

Ancient Egyptian Cartouche:
The modern French word designating the original Egyptian symbol called the shenu or shennu, “that which encircles,” a cartouche is an ellipse found in reliefs, paintings, sculpture, and papyri encircling certain royal names of the ancient pharaohs, starting in the Fourth Dynasty (2575–2465 B.C.E.).
Available on Amazon
The form evolved from the hieroglyph for eternity, a circle called the shen and symbolizing the course of the sun. In time,the form was elongated and used as a frame for the names of the pharaohs.
The double knot used in the symbol is an amulet of power. A stela depicting the royal name of Djet (Wadj; r. c. 2300 B.C.E.) was discovered at Abydos.  - From the Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt book by Margaret R. Bunson.
Ancient Egyptian Cartouche:
Elliptical outline representing a length of knotted rope with which certain elements of the ancient Egyptian royal titulary were surrounded. The French word cartouche, meaning 'gun cartridge', was originally given to the royal frame by Napoleon's soldiers and savants, because of its cartridge-like shape. From the 4th Dynasty (2613-2494 BC) onwards the line was drawn around the king's 'throne name' (prenomen or nesw-bit) and 'birth name' (nomen or sa Ra). It proved invaluable to early scholars such as Jean-Franyois Champollion who were attempting to decipher the hieroglyphic script, in that it was presumed to indicate which groups of signs were the royal names.
Available on Amazon

The cartouche was essentially an elongated form of the shen hieroglyph, and both signs signified the concept of 'encircling protection' denoted by a coil of rope folded and tied at the end. The physical extension of the original shen sign into a cartouche was evidently necessitated by the increasing length of royal names. The symbolic protection afforded by a cartouche, which may have been a diagram of the universe being encircled by the sun, is graphically illustrated by the choice of this sign for the shape of some 18th-and 19th-Dynasty sarcophagi, such as that of Merenptah (1213-1203 BC). Some of the early 18th-Dynasty burial chambers in the Valley of the Kings, as in the tomb of Thutmose III (1479-1425 BC) (Kv34), were also cartouche-shaped, thus allowing the king's mummy, like his name, to be physically surrounded by the cartouche. - From the Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Ian Shaw and Paul Nicholson.

Cleopatra Cartouches



Tutankhamun Cartouches



Nefertiti Cartouches



Ankh Cartouches



All Ancient Egyptian Cartouches

Latest ancient Egyptian jewelry, information and products: