In Egyptian hieroglyphs, a cartouche // is an oval with a line at one end tangent to the oval, indicating that the text enclosed is a royal name. The first examples of the cartouche are associated with pharaohs at the end of the Third Dynasty, but the feature did not come into common use until the beginning of the Fourth Dynasty under Pharaoh Sneferu. While the cartouche is usually vertical with a horizontal line, if it makes the name fit better it can be horizontal, with a vertical line at the end (in the direction of reading). The ancient Egyptian word for cartouche was shenu, and the cartouche was essentially an expanded shen ring. Demotic script reduced the cartouche to a pair of brackets and a vertical line.
At times amulets took the form of a cartouche displaying the name of a king and placed in tombs. Archaeologists often find such items important for dating a tomb and its contents. Cartouches were formerly only worn by Pharaohs. The oval surrounding their name was meant to protect them from evil spirits in life and after death. The cartouche has become a symbol representing good luck and protection from evil.[need quotation to verify]
The term 'cartouche' was first applied by French 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).[need quotation to verify]
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- Serekh, a predecessor to the cartouche
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press..
- Allen, James Peter, Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs, Cambridge University Press 2000, p. 65.
- Compare Thomas Eric Peet, William Leonard Stevenson Loat, The Cemeteries of Abydos. Part 3. 1912–1913, Adamant Media Corporation, ISBN 1-4021-5715-0, p.23
- "2. Ancient Egyptian Cartouche". Dcsd.org. Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2013-08-22.
- White, Jon Manchip, Everyday Life in Ancient Egypt, Courier Dover 2002, p.175
Najovits, Simson R. (2003). "The Social Context of the Egyptian Politico-Religious System". Egypt, Trunk of the Tree. Espiritualidad y religion. 1: The Contexts. New York: Algora Publishing. p. 251. ISBN 9780875862347. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
The shenu has come to be known as the 'cartouche' – it was so named after a rifle cartridge, whose shape it resembled, by the French scientific team that accompanied Napoleon's occupying force in Egypt between 1798 and 1801.
- Betrò, 1995. Hieroglyphics: The Writings of Ancient Egypt, "Cartouche", p. 195.
- Betrò, 1995, p. 195.