Cartouche necklaces, centuries old but stylishly relevant


Fashion and art are like beads in the bracelet of time hence reinvention is inevitable. What’s created once will certainly make a comeback from the forgotten archives to become a style statement yet again. Cartouche necklaces are becoming a must-have accessory after being around for centuries. Cartouche pendants were invented way back in the end of the Third Dynasty. These jewellery pieces 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. Cartouche pendants are usually vertical with a horizontal line, and carry a royal name. In the modern world it’s changed to more of a personalised accessory with your own name or the name of a loved one in Egyptian Hieroglyphs. If it makes the name fit better it can be horizontal, with a vertical line at the end. A cartouche necklace is made in several ways, either on a block of metal with symbols, or it can incorporate an inlaid stone topped with Egyptian symbols that are soldered on. Cartouche pendants need not be a solid block of gold or silver; a few variations come in a breezy open style gold cartouche that lacks a base and hold only the delicate hieroglyphs inside the oval frame. Such pendants when done with fine filigree work look exceptionally stunning. Today, these necklaces are handcrafted with precious metals using the traditional lost-wax casting technique. Interestingly, the name ‘cartouche’ was derived later on but originally it is termed ‘Shenu’. It changed to cartouche much later when French soldiers who chanced upon the symbol frequently on the pharaonic ruins they encountered which closely resembled a muzzle-loading firearm’s paper powder cartridge known as cartouche in French. The necklaces were used as amulets displaying the name of a king and placed in tombs.

The world has embraced cartouche pendants as a modern accessory used to convey feelings of love using hieroglyphs. This leaves wearers with Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs that combine logographic, syllabic and alphabetic elements, with a total of some 1,000 distinct characters. It’s a whole world in itself that one can experiment with to choose symbols that matter most to them. Reading these Hieroglyphs is easy with some help. They are written in rows or columns and can be read from left to right or from right to left. You can distinguish the direction in which the text is to be read because the human or animal figures always face towards the beginning of the line. Also the upper symbols are read before the lower. The Hamsa, is currently the most in vogue and also known as the Hand of Fatima. These symbols stand for several virtues which are also found on cartouche necklaces making them a meaningful present that grants strength and protection to its wearer. You can choose the symbols you desire on your cartouche as well as the metals. People usually opt for precious metals like gold and silver as they perfectly depict the intricacies of the symbols and were always the choice of metal for the pharaohs that created them too.

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