Ancient Egyptian Cartouche

A cartouche is a hieroglyphic symbol that was given to the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt.  This symbol was important so people would know who they were serving.

What Does a Cartouche Look Like?

A cartouche is an oval picture that has a line that goes horizontal or left and right at the bottom and then the words written inside the oval are the words of the king, pharaoh or the royal person.

When was the Cartouche Made?

The cartouche started being used when Sneferu was pharaoh and this was during the Fourth Dynasty.


The cartouche was basically like a name plate that was shaped like an oval and it would have the name written in the middle of it.

The important thing about the cartouche is that when a person died, it would be connected to the coffin.

Ba and Ka

The reason that a name plate or a cartouche was so important in Ancient Egyptian times was because of the Ba and Ka.

The Ba and Ka are two parts of a person’s soul.  When a person dies, the Ba goes to a place to have fun and enjoy life and the Ka goes to take care of the person’s family and friends and to make sure they are safe and happy.

At the end of each night, the Ba and Ka come together to meet the mummy and the mummy has a nice peaceful rest.  If the Ba and Ka cannot find the body, which it recognizes because of the name plate, then the person can never be able to go to the afterlife and they will just disappear forever.


Sometimes, instead of a writing on the wall, a person that died would be given an amulet with their cartouche on it.  This would be like having a name plate, but they could attach the amulet on the mummy so that it would not get lost or broken.

More Facts About Ancient Egyptian Cartouche:

  • Sometimes a cartouche would have the name of an Egyptian god on it.
  • The oval is supposed to be like a rope that is meant to have magical powers.
  • The cartouche not only helped to Ba and Ka find the body, it also was used to help protect people from evil spirits and to help protect people from evil spirits in the afterlife.
  • The cartouche does not have to be left and right it can also be up and down.
  • Hieroglyphs are pictures that are used to represent a word or a group of words. This was the Ancient Egyptian language.
  • Each cartouche was different and looked different. The symbols were always different depending on who the cartouche was for.

What Did You Learn?

  1. What is a cartouche?  A cartouche is an oval that has a name written inside of it.
  2. What is a cartouche similar to? A cartouche is similar to a nameplate.
  3. Why was a name plate or a cartouche important in Ancient Egyptian times? The cartouche or the name plate was important in Ancient Egyptian times because the Egyptians believed that the Ba and Ka, or the two souls, would come to the body of the dead person and they could only find it if the person had a name plate or a cartouche.
  4. What was interesting about drawing the cartouche? The cartouche was usually drawn with the oval up or down, but it could also be drawn left and right if it needed to fit more letters.
  5. Are all cartouche’s the same? No!  All of the cartouches represent a certain person so they are all different depending on their name and what they did in life.