The Mummy (1999) - Canopic Jars

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RobertMuldoon

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I’ve been on a deep dive of the canopic jars from The Mummy (1999), which it seems is not without controversy! This will be a long thread, and quite image heavy…

Let’s start with a nice close up screenshots of the jars from the scene when the canopic chest was rediscovered and opened:
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And another shot of the falcon jar from later on in the movie:
FalconJarInChair.png


I really enjoy finding the sources art departments use for Egyptian props and sets. The hieroglyphic inscription on the jar is actually taken from the side of Tutankhamen’s canopic chest (and slightly modified). One day I will get around to making a downloadable document with the inscription, and maybe even a lecture/article, but I keep getting distracted. Here are some of my research images:
CanopicChest.jpg
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PhotoshoppedJar.png


Now onto the actual props! The Propstore auctioned a falcon-headed jar in their 2014 UK live auction for £1900 (plus buyer’s premium and taxes). Here are some photos of that jar:
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I saw this one in person in the pre-auction exhibition and the photos are very accurate to what my eyes saw.

This blog also has pictures from an exhibition of the movie props, here are some examples of those:
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Additionally, run of 400 lion headed canopic jars were made for promoting the film/DVD. They came in a straw-lined wooden crate with a wooden lid with ‘PROP DEPT. UNIVERSAL STUDIOS’ written on it, and it said ‘property of universal Studios’ and their limited edition number on their base. These jars pop up every now and then on auction sites and here are some pictures:
the-mummy-movie-prop-numbered-reproduction-canopic_1_60767ae8d997614469eb8b6389ee5559.jpg
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I did some overlaying in Photoshop and the hieroglyphs line up on the limited run pretty much match the Propstore jar (aside from a little parallax from photo angles). Interestingly the ears of the limited edition jar also look to be a different shape to the exhibition lion jar, and there is a slight wave to the little blue rectangles at the lip of the jar on the limited edition jar, but not on the Propstore or Exhibition jars (or in the screenshot above). However, you can see the same shaped ears and the ‘wave’ on all the jars in this promo pic:
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Does anyone know where this was from originally? Reverse Google images didn’t help much, although I did find a SmoothOn advert with the image.

I wonder if the limited-edition run were maybe cast from different version of the jar? There are multiple versions of the Book of the Dead and its key, and in some scenes the lid of the jars certainly isn’t removable (or it’d have fallen off), so maybe there were multiple versions of the jars too. It’s interesting the hieroglyphs are the same on all versions, maybe the prop makers had a stamp for them and used that on all versions of the model?

Additionally, Profiles in History had a lion headed canopic jar in their December 2019 auction, which sold for $3750 (plus buyer’s premium and taxes), which had the description of:
1479. Lion head Canopic Jar from The Mummy.(Universal, 1999) Original cast resin Canopic Jar prop embellished with hieroglyphs and meticulously studio painted to appear as ancient carved stone with gold and lapis accents. Meant to hold the organs of Patricia Velasquez "Anck Su Namun", this jar is highly visible in several scenes. Measures 9 x 2.25 in. With black felt base. Housed in a wooden crate with theatrical packing material. Exhibiting minor production wear and handling. In production used very good to fine condition. $600 - $800

Here some photos of the PIH jar:
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However, I think that the PIH jar is not screen used and is actually one of the 400 limited-edition run because:
  1. The felt stuck on the bottom of the PIH jar would hide the ‘property of Universal Studios’ and the edition number. The Propstore and exhibition jars doesn’t have felt on the bottom, nor does it appear to be on any jar in the movie.
  2. The shape of the ears is identical to the limited-edition jars.
  3. Same wave in the blue rectangles as the limited-edition jars.
  4. The overall paint job and colouration looks like the limited-edition jars and unlike the Propstore jar or exhibition jars.
  5. The crate it came in was identical to the limited run, except the lid was removed (presumably to hide its pedigree).
  6. The dimensions PIH listed are 9 x 2.5 inch, where as the Propstore dimensions were 8 x 3.5 inch.
Sadly, it looks like another in a long line of shoddy authentication attempts by PIH! Sorry if anyone here bought that thinking it was actually what they said, and I’ve just ruined your day!

So, in conclusion, I think that there are a few different jars floating around:
  1. Propstore falcon jar
  2. Exhibition jars
  3. Limited-edition 400 lion jars, probably cast from production moulds
  4. PIH lion jar which appears to actually be one the 400 limited edition jars
 

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mathew

Active Member
There was an exhibition on Egypt in film in Leiden a few years back. I think I have some (bad) photo's of the five jars there. I don't think they had a proper catalogue but there was a friends of the museum glossy if I recall correctly
 

mathew

Active Member
I had some problems uploading the (indeed very poor) photo's. Turns out they showed a promotion jar. The exhibit was called "Het Egypte van Hollywood", and it had props from Night at the Museum, Star Gate, Indiana Jones, The Mummy (1999), Celoatra (1963), and The Ten Commandments aong others. Props were actually interspersed with real objects to compare reality to art.

Here's a link to some of the photo's
Next to some real ones
The lion (very blurry)
Sign next to the canopic jars

The glossy does not give more photos of the jar, but it is an interesting read if you read Dutch.
 

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RobertMuldoon

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
There was an exhibition on Egypt in film in Leiden a few years back. I think I have some (bad) photo's of the five jars there. I don't think they had a proper catalogue but there was a friends of the museum glossy if I recall correctly
I didn't know about that one, but Google tells me it was October 2012 to March 2013. It seems to be the source of some images I have for the Book of the Dead and Living. Shame I didn't know at the time, that would have been good to go and see!

I found a blog with this photo from the exhibition, looks to be one of the 'limited-edition' lion jars shown with some real jars:
dsc_0055.jpg


Looks like Hans van den Berg was the guest curator, I think it was you who linked me to his site.
 

RobertMuldoon

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I had some problems uploading the (indeed very poor) photo's. Turns out they showed a promotion jar. The exhibit was called "Het Egypte van Hollywood", and it had props from Night at the Museum, Star Gate, Indiana Jones, The Mummy (1999), Celoatra (1963), and The Ten Commandments aong others. Props were actually interspersed with real objects to compare reality to art.

Here's a link to some of the photo's
Next to some real ones
The lion (very blurry)
Sign next to the canopic jars

The glossy does not give more photos of the jar, but it is an interesting read if you read Dutch.
Looks like we crossed messages, I think the RPF servers were having a lie down!

I like the idea of showing real objects and comparing and contrasting with props, it's actually something a curator friend and I have been talking about for an exhibition one day....
 

mathew

Active Member
Looks like Hans van den Berg was the guest curator, I think it was you who linked me to his site.
Yeah it was Hans van den Berg. If you like this and are working on Egypt in films, you might also enjoy Faraon (1966). The semi-blackface is very cringy as a modern viewer, but the Polish (as someone who doesn't speak Polish) works rather well to give a sense of 'other-ness' and the costume design by Shadi Abdel Salam is amazing
 

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