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Monika Doliska

Looking for Baste Iret. The Cartonnage from the Collection of Micha Tyszkiewicz
Any mistake encountered in the museum inventory makes us look suspiciously at the neighbouring entries and their recorded provenance. We are painfully conscious that the last war created enormous havoc, not only amongst the museum objects themselves, but also in their documentation the loss of priceless certificates of origin drastically reduces the value of these objects. Reconstructing the history of an object requires meticulous examination and is not always successful. In the case of exhibits from the Egyptian collection of the National Museum in Warsaw, the situation is even more complicated, due to the fact that a large part of the objects had not even been catalogued before the war, as the transport of antiquities from the last campaign at Edfu had arrived at the museum only just before the outbreak of hostilities. Mistakes were inevitable whilst cataloguing mixed and broken objects after the war. Such was the case of cartonnage inv. no. 141987 (ill. 1), described in the inventory as a gift of the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology and supposedly excavated at Deir el-Medina. The next entry, inv. no. 141988, after careful investigation appeared to belong to a coffin of Tay-Akhuth from the old collection. Another one, the coffin of Djed-Khonsu-iuf-ankh, inv. no. 141795, also appeared to be a nineteenth-century acquisition and its number and provenance was mistaken. What was the guarantee that cartonnage inv. no. 141987 really was from Deir el-Medina? The village of the workmen who constructed the royal tombs was built at the beginning of the New Kingdom and prospered nearly till its end. When at the end of the 20th Dynasty, during the stormy period of civil wars and Libyan raids, workmen moved to the protection of the temple at Medinet Habu, the area of the village and its tombs were used as a convenient place to bury the dead. After the 21st Dynasty the village was totally deserted until the Ptolemaic times, when the temple of Hathor was built nearby and the old houses and tombs turned out to be ideal burial grounds. It is unlikely that the

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cartonnage, dated to the 22nd Dynasty, could have come from that site: according to the excavation reports of Bernard Bruyre, the director of the French mission between 1922 and 1951, no objects from this period were found, and certainly no cartonnage of this type. Where did the exhibit come from if not from Deir el-Medina? Was there any lost cartonnage in the Warsaw collection that could be connected with object inv. no. 141987? Following a detailed examination of the pre-war inventories, one possibility has appeared: No. 21885: Portrait case of an Egyptian mummy, of a very late period, probably Roman. Portrays the wife of a scribe from the temple of Horus and Isis named Baste Iret. Length: 165,5 cm. The date of the entry was the 25th October 1919; the origin was specified as the ohojsk collection of Micha Tyszkiewicz. This object was regarded as lost during the war and forgotten long ago. It was difficult to determine if the abovementioned short description matched the existing cartonnage, as it had suffered badly during the war: it was crumpled and cracked as if somebody had trampled on it, and to make things worse, huge amounts of dirt stuck to the wax used in attempt to protect the surface. The texts were illegible and the name of the dead woman couldn't be recognised (the yellow colour of the face pointed to the woman as the owner of the cartonnage). Was she Baste Iret? A pre-war photograph of the cartonnage (ill. 2) showed a beautiful face framed by a wig adorned with a vulture headdress and a lotus flower. This made us feel all the more sorrow at the destruction which afflicted this object after nearly two thousand years of existence. All the more we were keen on rescuing it, and restoring if perhaps not to a state so ideal as that portrayed on the photo this was impossible but to a more or

1. Damaged cartonnage inv. no. 141987 (new inv. no. 238435) The National Museum Warsaw (photo Z. Doliski)

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2. Head of the cartonnage of Baste Iret on a pre-war photograph

less satisfactory condition. There was some hope that under the layers of dirt and wax some legible texts had survived and that it would be possible to restore some of the beauty of the face and its colours, as well as proper shape of the body. This task was undertaken by Mr. Stefan Miszczak, from the Atelier for Conservation of the National Museum in Warsaw. After several months of work, the effects can be appreciated: Baste Iret, although not so beautiful as she once was, was transformed from crumpled debris into an anthropoid cartonnage (ill. 3). But was it really the Baste Iret from the pre-war inventory book? Cleaned texts have survived only partially, but it is now possible to read the name: Nehemes-Bastet (Saved by Bastet). The schematically drawn plant sign after the name the determinative of the dead woman is similar to the sign of the eye, ir, and this is probably the source of the reading Baste Iret from the old inventory. So the reading of the name, in spite of differences, supports the identity of the object from the ohojsk collection and the preserved cartonnage. Also the name and title of the husband of the dead woman speaks in favour of this hypothesis a scribe, Harsiese (Horus, the son of Isis) reminds us of a scribe from the temple of Horus and Isis mentioned in the old inventory. The date given there is wrong the cartonnage dates from the 22nd Dynasty, not from the Roman period but we shouldn't be surprised: at the beginning of the 20th century, when this entry was written, the typology of these objects was not known, in spite of the fact that for a long time they had been quite frequently brought to Europe, to

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become the pride of some private collection or the centrepiece of a sance of unwrapping the mummy. In the latter case they were carefully cut along the side as in this case to extract the mummy and examine it. In the years 1861 and 1862, Count Micha Tyszkiewicz (ill.4) travelled in Egypt. He started to collect his famous collection of antiquities, sometimes buying them, but mostly conducting his own excavations at Karnak and on the west bank of the Nile. At Karnak, the excavations were carried out legally, with the permission of the vice-king but in the valley behind the mountains of Asasif they were illegal breaking a ban imposed by the officials of Auguste Mariette and conducted under the cover of the night. The exact site of these illegal excavations is not known; it could have been any valley close to Asasif. The work proved successful as early as on its second night, as Tyszkiewicz noted in his diary:1 Having locked the door of the cabin we begin to open two mummies. One of them, enclosed in a wooden case, very decorative, is covered with green paintings, very protruding, and paintings on this green are red and rather shallow (today this case can be seen in Paris, in the Louvre, in the Department of Egyptian Antiquities2). So we started with this coffin but to my surprise the mummy enclosed in it had nothing except normal bands. The other mummy, although inconspicuous, was beautifully painted on a case made of glued linen and rewarded us doubly, as I found in it a body of a woman adorned with many gold jewels and idols made of lapis lazuli. Thick golden ear-rings,
1

3. Cartonnage after restoration actual inv.no. 238435 The National Museum Warsaw (photo Z. Doliski)

Egipt zapomniany czyli Michaa hr. Tyszkiewicza Dziennik podry do Egiptu i Nubii (1861 1862), ed. by A. Niwiski, Warsaw 1994, pp. 245247. Only a wooden mummy cover is presently in the Louvre, inv. no. E.3859.

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4. Count Micha Tyszkiewicz (after J. Tyszkiewicz, Tyszkiewiciana...)

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5. Golden objects from the Tyszkiewicz collection (after J. Tyszkiewicz, Tyszkiewiciana...)

two finger rings and a splendid necklace of the same material set with carnelians were found on the appropriate places of the body. A golden plate with hieroglyphic text lay on a breast, a bracelet made of strung amethysts and carnelians and another one in the shape of a serpent adorned her arms. A crystal figure of idol Sawak lay at her feet. Overjoyed at this beautiful and rich prize I decided to dig on in this promising valley and I sent generous baksheesh to my workmen to encourage them to further efforts and searching. A case made of glued linen is certainly a cartonnage, and very probably our cartonnage. As a matter of fact, several other mummies appear in the story spun by Tyszkiewicz,3 but none of them, it seems, was equipped with a cartonnage at least Tyszkiewicz doesn't mention any. One would like to know what happened to the golden jewels, but the description is so scanty that any attempt at identification must remain a hypothesis. On the plate in the book (ill. 5) written by Jzef Tyszkiewicz,4 the son of count Micha, we can see golden jewels; among other things a splendid pendant inlaid with glass and lapis lazuli, shaped like a ram-headed deity seated on a lotus flower. Is this the idol made of lapis lazuli mentioned by Tyszkiewicz? This object, presently in the Louvre, is dated to the Third Intermediate Period and its closest parallels come from the 22nd Dynasty.5 Another object of the same
Ibid., pp. 159, 241, 253, 367. Jzef Tyszkiewicz, Tyszkiewiciana: militaria, bibliografia, numizmatyka, ryciny, zbiory, rezydencje etc. etc., Pozna 1903. 5 Ch. Ziegler, Un chef d'oeuvre de la collection Tyszkiewicz, le pectoral au blier (Louvre E 11074), in Essays in Honour of Prof. Dr. Jadwiga Lipiska (Egyptological Studies I), Warsaw 1997, pp. 325326.
3 4

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6. Cartonnage of Nehemes-Bastet on a damaged pre war photograph The National Museum Warsaw

date, a golden finger ring of the royal secretary Hormes, with an image of Bastet-Hathor and cartouches of Osorkon,6 also found its way to the Louvre, offered by Micha Tyszkiewicz with nearly two hundred other Egyptian works of art. This ring probably comes from Bubastis, but it cannot be excluded that it turned up in Thebes for instance as a family souvenir. The cartonnage of Nehemes-Bastet, like many other Egyptian objects (the papyrus of Bakai, for instance, also discovered during those clandestine excavations), was sent to ohojsk the seat of the Tyszkiewicz family, owned by Konstanty Tyszkiewicz, Count Micha's uncle. Konstanty created a museum at ohojsk in 1842 and until 1907 one could have admired a showcase filled with Egyptian antiquities.7 Wadysaw Wankie, a journalist, described its contents in 1907 and mentioned a mummy, unfortunately already opened and a beautiful papyrus, admirably preserved.8 The grandson of Konstanty, Jzef, the owner of ohojsk since 1897, moved the Egyptian objects to Vilnius in 1910 and planned to establish a new museum there. His death in 1914 halted these plans. In 1915, Jzef s widow, Krystyna Brandt-Tyszkiewicz, donated these objects to the Art Society Zachta in Warsaw.9 In 1919 they went to the National Museum in Warsaw together with the rest of ohojsk collection, which had been donated to Zachta by another member of the Tyszkiewicz family. In this way the cartonnage,

Louvre inv. no. E 3717; cf. Tanis. L'Or des Pharaons, exh. cat., Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Marseille, Centre de la Vieille Charit, Paris 1987, p. 176. 7 Cf. A. Majewska, La collection gyptienne des Tyszkiewicz de ohojsk au Muse National de Varsovie, in Essays... op. cit., p. 174 and footnote 14. 8 W Wankie, Muzeum ohojskie, wiat, 1907, 35, p. 10. . 9 A. Snitkuvien, Lithuanian Collections of Count Micha Tyszkiewicz and His Family, in Essays... op.cit., pp. 237238.
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7. Upper part of the cartonnage of Nehemes-Bastet

the papyrus of Bakai and many other Egyptian antiquities landed in our museum. About 120 of them survived the last world war in better or worse shape. How does the cartonnage of Nehemes-Bastet look today? The cracked and fragmentarily preserved surface makes the decoration rather illegible and the form of many details can only be guessed on the basis of parallels with similar objects. Fortunately, a recently discovered broken glass negative has permitted us to add some details which no longer existed (ill. 6). For the purposes of clarification, I have included information concerning the additional (now lost) details in square brackets in the text below. The back of the casing is cut away beneath bands of colour separating the front and the back, except for a head, which is preserved as a whole. The dominant colours are red, yellow and blue on a white, rarely visible background. The wings of a vulture headdress, painted on a blue wig, frame the delicately modelled yellow face (ill. 7). The wig is encircled by a fillet of lotus petals and small coloured blocks, and

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8. Middle part of the cartonnage of Nehemes-Bastet

a lotus flower hangs above the forehead. On top of the head a large scarab Khepri with a shen-sign in his hind legs is painted on a yellow and red background, resembling a sun disc. Between the lappets of the wig is a figure of the seated goddess Maat, painted on a bed-net background. The arms are covered by a large collar made of many rows of lotus petals and red-and-blue blocks. On the right shoulder a small bird [with a human head: ba] is perched on a sign symbolising the West; the emblem on the left shoulder has not survived. A falcon with outspread wings, holding shen-rings in its claws, overlaps the lower part of the collar. The falcon is ram-headed, crowned with a sun disk it is probably a nocturnal form of the sun god, Re-Atum, united with Osiris during his journey through the netherworld. Several figures are placed in a register under the falcon (ill. 8). At either side, the Four Sons of Horus are shown (on the left is Hapi with a baboon head

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9. Lower part of the cartonnage of Nehemes-Bastet

and a poorly preserved Imseti, and on the right, the jackal-headed Duamutef and the equally poorly preserved Qebehsenuf). Closer to the centre, two images of Osiris appear, but are no longer recognisable, identified by the short captions T1 and T2. [Osiris on the left was shown mummiform, with a falcon head, equipped with a white crown and a uas-sceptre; Osiris on the right was represented by the Abydene fetish Ta-ur, with a supporting pole flanked by two upright winged lions.] Closest to the centre were two uraei in royal crowns, but only the one on the left in a white crown of Upper Egypt survived. [The one on the right wore a red crown.] The very centre of this compartment is occupied by a falcon's tail and legs painted on a feathered red-and-blue background. All these figures stand on the wings of another falcon, this time falconheaded and crowned with a red solar disc. This falcon in turn is supported

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by the crossed wings of figures from the next register: of goddesses Isis and Nephthys, standing on either side of the case and crowned with yellow discs. Green-bodied goddesses are facing inwards and reach out with winged arms. Between their wings begins a column of hieroglyphic text (T3), running down in several sections and separated by the tips of the wings of goddesses and yet other falcons, right up to the feet of the case. The texts are written in black on yellow background. The central column and two horizontal lines of the text are framed by red and blue bands. Short captions in front of the goddesses (T4 and T5) give their names. The next register is separated from the upper one by a horizontal line of text (T6 and T7, to the left and right from the central column). Two falcons are painted on either side of the case, standing on a sign representing gold (ill. 9). These falcons are sometimes labelled as Horus Behdeti, sometimes as Isis and Nephthys, but most often remain nameless as in this case. Their outspread wings cross in the centre of the case, overlapping the central column of text. Beneath is the next line of text, completely illegible now. [On the old photograph traces of the owner's name are barely recognisable.] The feet are decorated with two figures of the Wepwawet jackal on a standard, with hieroglyphs of his name written nearby. The front and the sides of the feet are encircled by a frieze made up of ankh, uas and neb-signs. The last signs of text from the central column are written over signs of the frieze. The overall pattern of decoration, with emphasis on prosperous symbols and protective deities, is typical of the majority of Theban cartonnage cases from the 22nd Dynasty. However, they differ in their details. First of all, the Abydene fetish, usually the most prominent element of decoration, with a column of text on a supporting pole, is in a subordinate position here, as one of the figures in a row. The arrangement of the wings of the protective deities differs in various cases: the wings can either just touch the central column of text (which is the support of the fetish)10 or the wings can cross but beneath the text, without overlapping it. Here two variants are possible: both pairs of wings are crossed under the central column of text11, which is sometimes the support of the fetish12, or one pair of wings touches the central column, while the other one crosses under the text.13 The only other examples
Cf. the cartonnage of Panepi (inv. no. 147801) in the National Museum in Warsaw. Cf. the cartonnage of Nakhtefmut (inv. no. E.64.1896) in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, the cartonnage of Tjenetdinebu (inv. no. 1881.2228) in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, the cartonnage of Djed-Mut-ius-ankh (inv. no. 32) in the gyptisches Museum in Berlin, the cartonnage of Tabes in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. 12 Cf. the cartonnage of Djed-Amonet-ius-ankh (inv. no. MR-A-517) in the Museum in Raciborz, the cartonnages of Padiset (inv. no. 3940) and Tamit (inv. no. 3942) in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. 13 Cf. the cartonnage of Shepenkhonsu (inv. no. J.106) in the Luxor Museum (wings of goddesses are crossed under the support of the fetish, wings of falcons touch it), the cartonnage of Neskhonsupakhered (inv. no. G-19929) in the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology in Berkeley (as above), the cartonnage of Ta-khateru (inv. no. AMM 21) in Rjksmuseum von Oudheden in Leiden (as above), the anonymous cartonnage in the Muse des Beaux-Arts in Lyon (as above); the cartonnage of
10 11

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of a pattern of decoration identical with the subject of this paper are the cartonnage of Panepi in the British Museum14 and the cartonnage of Ta-net-rety-sheryt in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.15 A similar pattern appears also on the cartonnage of a priestess in the British Museum but there are no horizontal bands separating the winged figures.16 I have also found one other example of wings overlapping the central column of text but with differently arranged compartments on the cartonnage in the Museu Nacional de Arqueologia in Lisbon.17 Parallels permit us to safely date this type of cartonnage mummy case to the 22nd Dynasty, but more precise dating is difficult because no typology of cartonnages has so far been established. It seems that different variants were used at the same time and in the same area: for instance, casings belonging to Neskhonsu-pakhered (in the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Antropology, Berkeley) and her husband Nespernub (in the British Museum)18 differ in many important details. Out of around 30 cartonnages of which I know until now, only one, that of Nakhtefmut in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is precisely dated to the end of the reign of Osorkon I, thanks to leather straps (the so-called mummy braces) with the stamped cartouche of this ruler and a linen fragment with the words Year 33 and Year 3, referring perhaps to the regnal years of Osorkon I and his co-regent Shoshenq II, found on the mummy.19 Mummy braces are also painted on the cartonnage of Nakhtefmut and decorate several other cartonnages. It is tempting to presume that the presence of painted mummy braces indicates an earlier date of the cartonnages similar painted leather straps are characteristic of coffins from late 21st Dynasty through to the early 22nd Dynasty, representing the final stage in the development of the yellow-type coffins. We can find them also on the lid of the inner coffin of Ankhefenkhonsu in the British Museum,20 decorated exactly like the typical cartonnages of the period, which is perhaps an intermediary between earlier yellow-type coffins and cartonnage mummy cases.

Panehesi (inv. no. AMM 17) in Leiden (wings of goddesses touch the central column of text, wings of falcons are crossed under text). 14 Inv. no. BM 6685. 15 Inv. no. 8641. 16 Inv. no. BM 25258. 17 Inv. no. E 135. 18 Inv. no. BM 30720: a winged scarab is painted on a very broad collar, taking the place of a ram-headed falcon, in place of a second falcon with outspread wings there is a wingless Ptah-Sokar-Osiris in a shrine. 19 E. Vassilika, Egyptian Art. Fitzwilliam Museum Handbooks, Cambridge 1995, p. 92. 20 Inv. no. BM 30721.

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H I E R O G LY P H I C

T E XT S

1 Words spoken by Osiris

2 Words spoken by Osiris

3(A) An offering that the king gives to Re-Horakhty

3(B) Atuma, Lord of Two Lands, the Heliopolitan, Osiris Unnefer, lord of the land

lord of the land 3(C) sacred, lord of eternity, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt,

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3(D)

/////// justified, the wifec of the scribed [...] Harsiese

///////

/////

ruler of eternity, [that they may give an offering to] Nehemes-Bastetb,

4 Words spoken by Isis, mistress of heaven

5 Words spoken by Nephthys, sister of the god

////

? [The one honoured before]? Isis, protector of the lady of the house Nehemes-Bastet, justified

////

////

////

[The one honoured before]? Nephthys, sister of the god, [protector of] Nehemes-[Bastet, justified]

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C O M M E N TA RY: a An invocation addressed to Re-Horakhty-Atum, usually also to Osiris, appears on most of cartonnages of this type, as well as on stelae of that period. b The name of the dead woman is relatively rare and appears, except one dubious occurrence,21 solely during the 22nd and 23rd Dynasties. Several bearers of this name are attested: first of all, the singer of the harem of Amon Nehemes-Bastet, the granddaughter of Takeloth II, the daughter of Shepensopdet and Djed-Khonsu-iuf-ankh, contemporary with Osorkon III and Takeloth III. She was the owner of several shabti-boxes, now in Dublin, Liverpool and Strasbourg.22 The second Nehemes-Bastet was a daughter of a mer-netjer priest, Padiamon her stela is in the British Museum.23 The third Nehemes-Bastet was a daughter of a prophet of Amon Hor, a wife of Djed-Amon-iuf-ankh and a mother of another priest Hor.24 We find these names on a small figure in Cairo. A certain Nehemes-Bastet appears also as an owner of a stela from Abydos25 and of another one from Thebes, now in Cairo.26 Every one of them, except naturally the third one with a husband Djed-Amoniuf-ankh, could be the owner of the Warsaw cartonnage. Of course, it could also be none of them. c The expression hbsw(t) appears to be a frequent designation of married . women, especially popular at the end of the New Kingdom and in the 22nd Dynasty.27 Relation between this term and the more common hbsw(t) is . unclear. Perhaps various forms of marital relations are meant here.28 d The rest of the title is lost, we don't know what sort of scribe Harsiese was.
B. Porter, R. Moss, Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Reliefs and Paintings, vol. II, 2nd edition, Oxford 1972, p. 159: the statuette of Padiamon-nebnesuttawy, the son of Nesmin and Nehemes-Bastet, found in the Cachette at Karnak and dated to the Persian Period (inv. no. Ent.37514). 22 Porter, Moss, op. cit., vol. I, 2, p.681: a shabti box found in the Ramesseum belonged to her; cf. also A. Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt, Warminster 1973, pp. 219220. Three other shabti boxes of the same owner are in the Liverpool Museum (inv. no. M13993), in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin (inv. no. L1030:120) and in the Institut d'Egyptologie in Strasbourg (inv. no. 848). Information about their whereabouts courtesy of Mr. Piotr Biekowski, Claude Traunecker and Piotr Laskowski. 23 M.L. Bierbrier, Hieroglyphic Texts from Egyptian Stelae etc., in the British Museum. vol. 11, London 1987: a stela inv. no. BM 22916. 24 G. Daressy, Catalogue Gnral du Muse du Caire. Statues de divinits, Cairo 1906: a lower part of a statuette inv. no. 38924. This Nehemes-Bastet obviously cannot be the owner of the Warsaw cartonnage. 25 Porter, Moss, op. cit., vol. V p. 58. , 26 Porter, Moss, op. cit., vol. I, 2, p. 802 (inv. no. Ent.3389). 27 For example, the cartonnages of Neskhonsu-pakhered and Ta-khateru, a stela inv. no. BM 35895. 28 Cf. J.J. Janssen, Two Personalities, in R.J. Demare, J. J. Janssen, Gleanings from Deir el-Medina, Leiden 1982, p. 127, footnote 37.
21

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To sum up: The story of the cartonnage of Nehemes-Bastet has reached its happy-end. Not only has the physical shape and some of its previous beauty been restored, but also the modern history of the object has been successfully reconstructed. This cartonnage together with four coffins from the old University collection had formed the basis of the Egyptological collection in the National Museum in Warsaw, until Prof. Michaowski enriched it substantially with finds from Edfu, Deir el-Medina and other sites.29

Linguistic consultation Micha Murawski

29

The actual inventory number of the cartonnage is 238435. All pre-war numbers have been changed into new 6-digit ones.