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A large Egyptian Polychrome Cartonnage Double Pectoral, ca. 664 - 30 BC

This two-piece ensemble of mummy cartonnage was placed over the body of the deceased once the process of mummification was complete.  The upper cartonnage shows a large usekh or usejet collar (the word meaning wide), placed over the chest of the mummy.  Semi-circular, it is made up of a network of bead rows in different shapes and materials, depicting petals of white lotus (in a tear-drop shape) and flowers in the form of rosettes and blue lotus flowers. Two falcon heads are placed above as terminals and in reference to the god Horus.  Between the terminals is the  winged image of the god Khepri, a live manifestation of Ra, the sun, when it is in the rising phase in the east and symbolizing continuous cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth.  This was the base of the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians and for this reason was present in sarcophagi as a protective symbol.

The second cartonnage, worked using the same chromatic range, was placed over the stomach. It shows the goddess of the sky, Nut, with wings out stretched  in protection. These extensions of the divine arms fulfilled two purposes. The wings protected the dead from any external danger while at the same time, the movement of beating of the wings gave the deceased the “breath of life”, which is how the Egyptians referred to the rebirth in the Other World.  Nut holds two Maat ostrich feathers in her hands, which symbolize truth, justice and the order established in the universe by Ra. Above each arm, the deceased is depicted meeting Osiris, god of the Other World.

Dimensions: Height: 21 5/8 inches (54.9 cm), width: 13 3/4 inches (34.9 cm)

Condition: Expected losses to the edges and polychrome, some cracks to the cartonnage that are stabilized with the mount but overall in excellent condition.  Custom mounted on museum quality acrylic support with black wood base.

Provenance: The Simonian Family Collection of Ancient Art, Switzerland, acquired in the 1960's and then by descent, legally imported into the USA in 2016.

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