Cartonnage

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Rear of a cartonnage Anubis Mask, Ptolomaic era.
This mummy of an unknown girl has a cartonnage composed of layers of linen and plaster.[1] The Walters Art Museum.

Cartonnage is a type of material used in Ancient Egyptian funerary masks from the First Intermediate Period to the Roman era. It was made of layers of linen or papyrus covered with plaster. Some of the Fayum mummy portraits are also painted on panels made of cartonnage.[2]

Technique[edit]

Cartonnage of Nespanetjerenpere, ca. 945–718 BCE. Linen or papyrus mixed with plaster, pigment, glass, lapis lazuli, 69 11/16 in. (177 cm). Brooklyn Museum, 35.1265.

In a technique similar to papier-mâché, scraps of linen or papyrus were stuck together with plaster or resin and used to make mummy cases and masks.[3] It could be molded to the shape of the body, forming a type of shell. After the material dried it could be painted or gilded. The shell could be decorated with geometric shapes, deities, and inscriptions. During the Ptolemaic era, the single shell method was altered to include four to six pieces of cartonnage. There would generally be a mask, pectoral, apron, and foot casing. In certain instances there were two additional pieces used to cover the ribcage and stomach.[4]

Materials[edit]

Fragment of cartonnage from a New Kingdom coffin (Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum)

The materials used to produce cartonnage changed over time. In the Middle Kingdom it was common to use plastered linen, during the Third Intermediate Period, linen and stucco, during the Ptolemaic period, old papyrus scrolls and during the Roman period, thicker fibrous materials.[5]

Reusing papyrus that was considered waste was a common practice during the Ptolemaic period. A lot of discarded documents from the government and archives were used for this purpose.[4]

Archeological significance[edit]

The preparation of cartonnage preserved the sections of papyrus; therefore, it is a prominent source of well-preserved manuscript sections.[5] In 1993, the city of Helsinki received fourteen fragments of cartonnages from the Egyptian Museum in Berlin. Conservators were tasked with preserving the cartonnages and publishing all Greek papyrus texts derived from them.[6]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mummy and Painted Cartonnage of an Unknown Woman". The Walters Art Museum. 
  2. ^ New clues illuminate mysteries of ancient Egyptian portraits - Same artist painted several lifelike paintings buried with mummies by BRUCE BOWER, published by "Society for Science & the Public" on Feb. 14, 2016
  3. ^ Hayman, written by James Putnam; photographed by Peter (2004). Mummy (Rev. ed.). New York, NY: DK Pub. p. 70. ISBN 0756607078. 
  4. ^ a b "Cartonnage". Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Burial customs:cartonnages". Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  6. ^ "Cartonnage Papyri". Retrieved 29 November 2012.