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This article belongs to the monster history category of pages, which detail the creatures of the Monster High franchise and do so in relation to the source context of those creatures. There is a likelihood that this article contains material not suited for young people and in general holds topics that are upsetting.

If you only wish to read about the basic inspiration choices for the Monster High characters and creatures, go to
Mummies in Monster High.

Mummies are a type of undead monster that are wrapped in mummy bandages.

Monster High

The Monster High mummies are Mr. Mummy and the De Nile family, consisting of at least of Cleo de Nile, Nefera de Nile, and their father Ramses de Nile. Referred to in the Dawn of the Dance diaries and on Facebook is the girls' uncle Tut, and the Monster High book series make mention of an aunt named Nefertiti, while the Ghoulfriends books refer to an aunt named Neferia.

Cleo's House 1

Cleo de Nile is roughly 5,842 years old and her sister Nefera roughly 5,845 years. This means that in the Monster High universe, Ancient Egypt and its mummification practices kicked off well before they did in the real world. The De Niles are a royal family which lost its throne due to betrayal by people the family trusted.[1] This presumably led to the family being mummified and entombed for nearly 6,000 years, from which Cleo emerged with a severe case of fear of the dark.[2] There is a small suggestion that the De Niles weren't constantly entombed and occasionally traveled abroad, but this is not confirmed.[3] At some point in the third millenium CE, Cleo's father had the family leave their tomb and relocate to the United States of America, where the family's daughters came to attend Monster High.

As far as Cleo and Nefera are concerned, neither wears much bandage as they have allround flawless skin (Nefera's birth-scar excluded). This is roughly in line with Imhotep from Universal's The Mummy, but also many other mummies in fiction, who all rely more on magic to preserve them than actual preservation techniques. Given the De Niles affinity with magic, this is not unlikely. However, the girls do need to wear some wrappings at all times or else they will disappear into dust.[4] This too is a classic mummy trait. They also both have a glass-breaking scream, though it's not known whether that is a mummy skill or is theirs for another reason.

Both Cleo and Nefera have a weak spot for reptiles, which in both their cases is inspired by Ancient Egyptians' use of the Egyptian cobra as symbol of royalty. Specifically, the trait originated with Cleo, whose affinity with snakes is inspired by the real-life Cleopatra's association with snakes following her choice to use one as means of honorable suicide. At least Cleo can command snakes to do her bidding, though she makes a point out of not ever using her powers on her gorgon boyfriend, Deuce Gorgon.[1] Cleo's and Deuce's relationship is also a play on the real-life Cleopatra's association with snakes. In the books, Cleo received her pet cobra, Hissette, from Deuce, who obtained her from his mother as her first grey hair. In the diary continuity, Hissette came with a shipment from the De Niles' Egyptian home. In the webisodes, the De Niles have a pond containing crocodiles in front of their house.[5] In addition to snakes, Nefera likes bugs,[6] and has a pet scarab named Azura. In Ancient Egypt, scarabs were associated with the sun gods Khepri and Ra due to the way they rolled a ball forth too and seemingly created themselves from dead matter as well. Nefera is also a bit of a cat enthusiast,[1] another animal sacred to the Ancient Egyptians, which is why she is friends of sorts with the werecats Toralei Stripe, Purrsephone, and Meowlody. In the books, there are seven cats in the De Nile household: Chisisi, Bastet, Akins, Ebonee, Ufa, Usi, and Miu-Miu.

Cleo's and Nefera's father originally carried the implication of being either Imhotep or Kharis due to the association of the main characters with the Universal Horror line-up. The name in the books aside, too many details about the girls' father has since surfaced for him to be either. Ramses de Nile is a stern man who believes in his family's superiority over commoners and insists they behave worthy of their heritage. This doesn't mean Mr. De Nile is an unpleasant person: he specifically does not allow any in his family to treat the servants badly[7] and is very supportive of his daughters' career choices. However, he does expect both his daughters to work hard to be worthy of his support and does not want them to lose their sense of decorum in public.[2] In the books, he is an antique dealer, while Cleo's student file reveals that he is the chairman of the MH construction committee and oversees all new building plans.

Cleo de Nile is strongly based on the real-life Cleopatra. Aside from the snake theme, Cleo's student file mentions she excels in Dead Languages. The real-life Cleopatra was the only one in her family to ever bother to learn another language than Ancient Greek, and she mastered some ten languages if not more. In contrast, Nefera doesn't appear to be modeled after a particular pharaoh but to be a mixture. Nefera's name, emphasized beauty and blue hair in a high tail evoke Nefertiti, a queen of Ancient Egypt of whom a bust remains. The bust is considered to represent an ideal of beauty and has Nefertiti wearing a high blue crown. The similarities end with the appearance though. Nefera's profile states that she believes she does not have to learn other languages as long as she has servants who can translate for her - a sentiment prominent in the real-life Cleopatra's family.

As per nineteenth century mummy fiction customs, the De Niles possess a large collection of enchanted items which they can use for a variety of goals. Especially Cleo is prone to resort to using them, though she has come to understand that the items' usage is not a free deal. Most of the De Niles' items are cursed and come with a nasty payback if used too much.[8] These paybacks have included: the disappearance of Cleo's hair, the unleashing of frog and gnat infestations - Ancient Egyptian plagues mentioned in The Exodus, and a pizza slice brought to life. Each idol has a name which holds a pun on the name of a real-life pharaoh: the Statue of Notalotincommon is a play on the name of Tutankhamun, while the Amulet of Knuck'n'nothin' is a play on the name of Akhenaten.

In their everyday life, the De Niles are assisted by servants resembling Anubis, the protector god of the dead in Ancient Egypt. These servants are presumably ushabtis, Ancient Egyptian statues buried with the dead to follow them into the afterlife and serve them.

A running theme in the De Nile family is, of course, the Nile. In Ancient Egypt, the Nile was a sacred river because only near it was life in Egypt possible. The rest of the land was too dry and warm for anyone to survive. As a result, the Nile Delta, where Egypt is at its most beautiful and comfortable, is how the Ancient Egyptians envisioned the afterlife kingdom to look like. Aside from the family name, the Nile theme is what Nefera's beauty is designed around, which is described as "timeless like the blue of the eternal Nile."[9] Since moving to the USA, Cleo has become a rain enthusiast due to water and thus rain being scarce in Egypt.[2]

While Cleo's fondness of geometry is probably a simple reference to Ancient Egyptian pyramids, it is possible the idea goes a little further. One of the main adults of the franchise, Mr. Mummy, is a math teacher and has studied at the Alexandria Institute of Technology M.S., Euclidian Geometry. This references Euclid, who is also known by the title "Father of Geometry". Euclid did much to further the understanding of geometry, and was partially able to do so due to the intellectual environment created in Alexandria by the Ptolemaic dynasty, of which the real-life Cleopatra was a member.

Cleo and Nefera have a habit of holding their arms in a two-dimensional pose, which mimics the figures in Ancient Egyptian art and hieroglyphs. Mr. Mummy does not have this habit, though admittedly he has not appeared much yet. Also, both girls occasionally hold their arms crossed over their chest in the so-called 'Osiris position'.[10][11] This is counter to real-life Ancient Egyptian tradition that only allowed the male ruler to be depicted or mummified in that position. Female rulers had to do with a 'semi-Osiris position', which saw only their left arm folded over their chest.

It isn't clear whether in the Monster High universe mummies still possess their organs, which were often removed and stored in jars during the mummification process in the real world. If Cleo does not have her brain anymore, which was in real-life often destroyed because the Ancient Egyptians didn't think it had a purpose, her friendship with Ghoulia could be a play on that, since both mummies and zombies are associated with brains. Also in relation to Monster High mummy anatomy, there is a medical situation called mummingitis that supposedly only affects mummies. It is a pun on meningitis, but presumably is a completely different disease. It's a dream of Ghoulia's to one day find a cure for it.[12]

Notes

  • Ricky may be an ice mummy.
  • The Nefertiti bust was the inspiration for the iconic hairdo of the Bride in Bride of Frankenstein.
  • The throne name of Ramses II is Usermaatre Setepenre, which in Ancient Greek sources is transliterated into Ozymandias. Percy Bysshe Shelley, the husband of Mary Shelley and the person who encouraged her to turn Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus into a true novel, was inspired by the reputation of Ramses II to write the sonnet Ozymandias, which is about the notion that even the greatest of might is temporarily. Both novel and sonnet were published in 1818.
  • In her Nekrocon diary, Ghoulia Yelps states that it is her dream to acquire a time machine and visit the Library of Alexandria. The Library of Alexandria was built and maintained by the Ptolemaic dynasty, of which Cleopatra VII was a member.

Etymology

The word "mummy" comes from "mummia", a collective term for any substance used in the Ancient Egyptian mummy-making and any substance made from Ancient Egyptian mummies. "Mummia" itself comes from the Persian word "موم", "mum", which means "bitumen", "asphalt". Bitumen was thought to be used in the mummification process due to bitumen being black and mummies having blackened skin, but research has revealed that if there's even bitumen in the mummy, it most likely got there coincidentally, not intentionally. Bitumen was, however, popularly used in the second millenium to produce fake ancient mummies.

The word "mummy" originally (ca. 1400) referred to the process of mummification, but around 1650 it came to refer to the mummified body too. In the next hundred years, the term's meaning was expanded to "any dead body of which the soft tissue has been preserved".

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Cleo de Nile's 'School's Out' diary
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Cleo de Nile's 'Basic' diary
  3. Cleo de Nile's profile
  4. Cleo de Nile's Facebook profile
  5. "Miss Infearmation"
  6. August 12, 2011 entry on Facebook
  7. Nefera de Nile's 'Campus Stroll' diary
  8. "Idol Threat"
  9. Nefera de Nile's profile
  10. "Why We Fright"
  11. "Hyde and Shriek"
  12. "Why Do Ghouls Fall in Love?"

External links