Cartouche

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In Egyptian hieroglyphs, a cartouche is an oval (that is to say a rectangle with semi-circular ends) with a horizontal line at one end, indicating that the text enclosed is a royal name, coming into use during the beginning of the Fourth Dynasty under Pharaoh Sneferu, replacing the earlier serekh. The Ancient Egyptian word for it was shenu, and it was essentially an expanded shen ring. In Demotic, the cartouche was reduced to a pair of parentheses and a vertical line.

Of the five royal titularies it was the throne name, also referred to as prenomen, and the "Son of Ra" titulary,[1] the so-called nomen, i.e., the name given at birth, which were enclosed by a cartouche.[2]

At times amulets were given the form of a cartouche displaying the name of a king and placed in tombs. Such items are often important to archaeologists for dating the tomb and its contents.[3] There were periods in Egyptian history when people refrained from inscribing these amulets with a name, for fear they might fall into somebody's hands conferring power over the bearer of the name.[4]

Contents

Etymology

It is said[who?] that the label cartouche was first applied by soldiers who fancied that the symbol they saw so frequently repeated on the pharaonic ruins they encountered resembled a muzzle-loading firearm's paper powder cartridge (cartouche in French).[5]

Hieroglyph use of cartouche, and half-cartouche

In the Rosetta Stone, the cartouche hieroglyph is used for the word "name", Egyptian rn.[6] For the cartouche cut in half, the "half-cartouche hieroglyph", Gardiner's sign listed no. V11, (the cartouche hieroglyph is V10), is used in the Egyptian language for words meaning: "to cut, to divide, to separate".

See also

References

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