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Funeral set of princess Henuttawy: Cartonnage and Inner Sarcophagus

ca. 950 BCE-900 BCE

The seemingly immutable system of Egyptian funerary practices and beliefs is actually an illusion, as they never ceased to evolve from the time of the Old Kingdom (2625−2130 BCE). At the beginning of the 1st millennium BCE, when Egypt underwent a period of serious political unrest, the pillaging of royal burial chambers in the necropolis of Thebes caused general anxiety and brought about a transformation of customs. One was an increase in the number of protective layers for the deceased and recourse to the gods to ensure the survival of the deceased in the afterlife. This is why the princess Henuttawy, Pharaoh’s daughter, was buried in an exceptional set of nested sarcophagi and a cartonnage case that enveloped her like a veritable cocoon, on both of which her name and titles were repeated continually.

Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi/ Photo: Thierry Ollivier

Henuttawy, “Venerated Mistress of the House”, was the “Daughter of the king, Lord of the Two Lands, Sheshonq” and of “Shebet-Aset”. Although we are unable to identify which pharaoh is mentioned as several named Sheshonq ruled Egypt at the start of the millennium, the name of the king immediately links this princess with the royal families of the 22nd Dynasty (945–715 BCE). The body rested beneath richly decorated cartonnage representing the shroud of Osiris. The burial mask is made from gilded wood to imitate the imperishable flesh of the gods. The delicacy of the features and the large, elegantly underlined eyes attest to treatment reserved exclusively for the royal entourage. The numerous divinities depicted on the cartonnage include Maat, Osiris, Isis and Nephthys, as well as the four sons of Horus and the goddess Hathor, all of whom reinforce the physical and symbolic protection of the princess.

Artwork Details

Title: Funeral set of princess Henuttawy: Cartonnage and Inner Sarcophagus

Geography: Egypt
Date: ca. 950 BCE-900 BCE

Medium: painted wood, stuccoed and painted cloth

Classification: funerary specimen

Dimensions: 163 x 38 x 31 cm (cartonnage); 172.5 x 44.5 x 31.5 cm (coffin), 172 x 45.5 x 10 cm (lid)

Inventory number: LAD 2014.023.001; LAD 2014.023.002
Contact for images: [email protected]


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