Cartonnage panel of ba-bird

Hellenistic period, Ptolemaic Dynasty
332–30 B.C.


Height x length: 40 x 29 cm (15 3/4 x 11 7/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


On View

Egyptian Funerary Arts Gallery (Mummies) (Gallery 109)


The Ancient World


Mummy trappings

This cartonnage (painted, plaster-soaked linen) panel from mummy trappings depicts an image of a Ba, a “spiritual” aspect of a deceased person customarily in the form of a human-headed bird. In this case it is shown wearing sun disk on its head and holding an ostrich feather (symbol of order, truth) in each claw. Painted detailing is rendered black lines with orange, orange-red, blue, green, and white. A few very small fragments have torn away and are missing, but it is generally in good condition.

The Ba was thought to be an mobile aspect of a deceased individual, manifesting especially upon death and having the ability to travel between the earthly world of the living and the afterlife realm of the dead.


By 1836: Robert Hay Collection, Linplum, Scotland; 1863: to his son, Robert James Alexander Hay; 1868-1872: Way Collection, Boston (purchased by Samuel A. Way through London dealers Rollin and Feuardent, 27 Haymarket); 1872: given to the MFA by Samuel's son, C. Granville Way.

Credit Line

Hay Collection—Gift of C. Granville Way