egyptian cartouche
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Egyptian Cartouche. Project. History.

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  • In ancient Egypt, kings, and sometimes others, encircled their name hieroglyphs with a design that we now call a cartouche. While we may find it rarely used to enclose the name of non-kings, for the most part, the cartouche's presence identifies the name it encloses as the king of Egypt. A cartouche is an oval ring that is a hieroglyph representation of a length of rope folded and tied at one end. It symbolized everything that the sun encircled and is thus an indication of the king's rule of the cosmos. Later, in the demotic script, the cartouche was reduced to a pair of parentheses and a vertical line.
The term, "cartouche" is a relatively modern one coined by the soldiers of Napoleon's expedition in Egypt, who saw in the sign the likeness of the cartridges, or "cartouche" used in their own guns. The cartouche, known in ancient Egypt as the shenu, is derived from the Egyptian verb, Sheni, which means to encircle. It is very similar to the shen sign, a more circular form, and in fact the earliest use of the cartouche in which the king's name was written were circular and identical with that sign. So in order to understand the cartouche we must know something of the shen sign.
The circular shen sign, or ring evokes the concept of eternity through its form, having no beginning or end, and its solar aspect is symbolized by the sun disk often depicted in the center of the circle. It was also a symbol of protection, and as a hieroglyphic symbol in Egyptian art, it can have the meanings of both "eternity" and "protection". As a sign of "eternity", the shen is frequently associated with representations of Heh, the god of eternity, and often forms the base of the notched palm-branches symbolizing "years," which is held by this deity. It is also mirrored in the shape of the ouroboros, the serpent which bites its own tail.
the project
The Project
  • Your task is to create a Cartouche of your own. Your cartouche should spell out your full first name in hieroglyphics. The hieroglyphics should be written in a downward direction with the bar at the bottom. Your cartouche must be glued to black paper with your name written in English on a label on the back of the black paper.