The Puzzle of Egyptian Art. Dismembering an Iconography to Understand it.

Iconopgraphy in the Clay Coffin of Men.

As we have seen in a previous post, the iconography of this coffin contains traditional images of Egyptian art to guarantee the resurrection of the deceased. In addition, in the previous post we exposed that the decoration was perfectly distributed on the surface. So, we can distinguish three parts: body (lower part), shoulders and neck…

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THE DISTRIBUTION OF IMAGES IN EGYPTIAN ART. THE CLAY COFFIN OF MEN.

Clay coffin of Men of Men (After Petrie 1906, pl. XIV).

Images in Egyptian art were much more than just designs, specially in funerary sphere. They were a tool for achieving a goal and their effectiveness was out of doubt. Moreover, the artist also had to choose their location on the surface for creating a coherent composition. DISTRIBUTION OF THE IMAGES IN THE CLAY COFFIN OF…

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The Iconography in a Clay Coffin of Ancient Egypt. A Guarantee of Resurrection.

Coffins in Ancient Egypt were not made just in wood, but also in ceramic. Although these kind of coffins are much more common in the Middle East, there are some examples coming from the northeast of Egyptian Delta. Let us pay attention to the clay coffin of Men (Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire de Bruxelles,…

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Isis and Nephthys: Key for the Eternity of “Qurna Queen”.

The foot of the lid of the coffin showing Isis and Nephthys in mourning gesture. Photo National Museum of Scotland.

I would like to focus on an exceptional coffin located in the National Museum of Scotland. Because it contains a depiction of Isis and Nephthys, that well deserves a mention. 1. Some Information about the Coffin of “Qurna Queen”. Flinders Petrie discovered in 1908 the coffin of Qurna Queen in the Egyptian village of Qurna…

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Hair and Movement in the Post-Amarna Period.

The artists in ancient Egypt used the bending hair for drawing body movements. The Egyptian artists in Amarna could also depict hair in a more plastic and less rigid way. In fact that followed one of the identity signature of the art of Amarna: more dynamic and natural. And maybe there were a contribution from Amarna to traditional iconoraphy on that subject.

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The two Mourners in the funerary Mask of Artemidora.

We know how important was the decoration on the corpse in Ancient Egypt. The egyptian artist selected the most effective iconography for the benefit of the deceased. Among the most requested images were those of the two mourners Isis and Nephthys. Because, in their role of mourners of Osiris, guaranteed the mummy’s resurrection. We have…

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Duality in Egyptian Art. Duality in Egyptian Landscape.

In the ideological thinking of Ancient Egypt, duality played a crucial role. The equilibrium principle could not exist without the imbalance; and in front of the idea of ​​order was that of disorder. Duality in Egyptian landscape. Duality was supported by the Egyptian geography itself: In front of the cultivable and fertile area was the arid…

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Pharaoh and Uniformity in Egyptian Art.

The uniformity of Egyptian Art had also political basis. Pharaoh and Uniformity in Egyptian Art. In the state sphere, the Egyptian society required a balance, which depended directly on Pharaoh. The Egyptian monarchy was an institution with double nature, divine and human. The sovereign, by his superhuman essence, was the one who mediated between the…

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Uniformity in Egyptian Art. The Cyclic Nature of Ancient Egypt.

Plastic manifestations in Egyptian art remain almost unchanged for more than three millennia. Why? Art is something intimately linked with human feeling, with its conception of the world and with its ideology. But Egyptian art is the product of a collective feeling. It is no an individual matter. For that reason, Egyptian art must be conceived…

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A Reflexion on Royal Iconography in Ancient Egypt: News with Nefertiti for Same Needs.

The king in Ancient Egypt, despite his solar nature, was also a human being. After dying, the pharaoh became also a corpse, so a mummy.  Therefore it was inevitable to asimilate the dead souvereign with Osiris. And he required also a resurection following the belief of Ancient Egypt. Even Akhenaten needed it. Royal sarcophagi in…

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Nefertiti granted the resurrection of Akhenaten. Part II

Isis, Nephthys and later on also Serket and Neith were essential in the regeneration sphere. They, as women/goddessees, played a crucial role in the process of resurrection in Ancient Egypt.  For that reason, ancient Egyptian artist included their images in every funerary artefact related with the mummy (at both ends of coffins and sarcophagi, in…

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Nefertiti granted the resurrection of Akhenaten. Part I

Let’s start with that: women were crucial in Ancient Egypt for the dead’s resurrection. The rite of the professional mourning ritual in ancient Egyptian funerals was based on the Osirian theology. That happened becasue in the belief of Ancient Egypt the dead (Osiris) was regenerated thanks to aid of his wife/sister Isis (and by extension…

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The Orientation of the Iconopraphy in the Tomb of Tutankhamun.

In Ancient Egypt the iconography on the walls of the tombs were crucial for the dead’s resurrection.  The iconography in the tomb of Tutankhamun was strong enough for granting the king’s regeneration. Both, the scenes and its emplacement had a sense. Orientation of the Tutankhamun iconography. The ancient Egyptian artists selected for this king a…

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Ancient Egyptian Funerary Environment in the Treasury of Tutankhamun.

The tomb of Tutankhamun needs to be seen as an historical document. Nowadays everyone knows about Tutankhamun. His mummy, his funeral mask, his golden sarcophagus, his jewels, his spectacular furniture … are familiar to anyone.  But this familiarity towards the figure of Tutankhamun and his tomb does not always mean true knowledge. The Tomb of…

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The First Moment of the Death in Ancient Egypt. Tutankhamun’s Tomb

The tomb of Tutankhmun is more than a mask, a mummy, Howard Carter… It is an historical document with lots of useful information about the funerary belief in Ancient Egypt. Let’s focus now on the funerary chamber. The decoration of the funerary chamber. The funerary chamber of Tutankhmun is the only decorated room in the tomb. The decorative…

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A lament in Amarna made by common mourners.

Iconography proofs the existence of a mourning practice in Amarna. Specially relevant is the Royal Tomb, where the funeral of Meketaten, the royal daughter, was depicted. The death of Meketaten was lamented by the royal family, that is Akhenaten, Nefertiti and the three sisters, Meritaton, Ankhesenpaaton and Neferferuaton-ta-sherit, but also by a group of mourners. These scenes of lament…

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An Ancient Egyptian Mourning Ritual Took Place in Amarna.

In Ancient Egypt the afterlife and the eternity were concepts very inserted into belief. The funerary art granted food, drink, furniture, religious cult…The mourning rite depicted was also crucial for the dead’s resurrection. During the reign of Akhenaten, iconography coming from tombs of Amarna show mainly scenes of the “living ones”: Sculptors in the workshop, worship…

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The Ancient Egyptian Mourning Ritual, existed also in Amarna?

During the reign of Akhenaten many things changed in Ancient Egypt. The new Pharaoh modified the artistic canon, his residence, the religion, the cult…but what happened with the death? Documents coming from that period of the history of Ancient Egypt show a belief on Aton as the creator of everything. The hymns pray to him…

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Ancient Egypt had no artists, but craftsmen.

I have already written about the consideration of the Art of Ancient Egypt as an artwork or a craftwork. In that post some elements were enumerated as necessary for a piece of art: Artificiality. An observer. Communication. Authenticity. Individuality. The problem in Ancient Egypt is that the only property we find in its figurative production…

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Pulling the front lock of hair in Ancient Egypt?

In Ancient Egypt groups of common mourners walked during funerary processions making many gestures of lament: raising arms, beating their arms…One of the most typical gestures of these mourners was to pull from their lock of hair. We can watch this typical mourning movement in two dimensional depictions, as for instance the mastaba of Mereruka…

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In Ancient Egypt were Isis and Nephthys Essential in Cartonnages.

Cartonnages in Ancient Egypt were used over the wrapped mummy mainly for mummy masks and some important parts of the body. The cartonnage of Irtirutja in the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York dates from the Ptolemaic period. In it one can see how the artist of Ancient Egypt dedicated this technique for covering some special parts of the mummy….

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Lunar Rituals with Hair in the Ancient Egyptian City of Heliopolis.

It seems that in Ancient Egypt there were a relationship between the hair element and some rites of Heliopolis. The funerary texts show that the hair, the lock of hair and the cut of this lock of hair were somehow connected with religious practices of this ancient Egyptian city. The festivities of snwt and dnit were important lunar…

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Isis and Nephthys rising Osiris-Re in the XX Dynasty of Ancient Egypt.

The religion of Ancient Egypt developed during the New Kingdom sophisticated religious texts, which combined the solar theology with the Myth of Osiris. As a consequence, the art of ancient Egypt included in its corpus of images a new solar-Osirian iconography. As we saw in the previous posts, the artists of Ancient Egypt started painting…

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A challenge in the Art of Ancient Egypt: Osirian-Solar Iconography.

One of the main challenges for priests and artists in Ancient Egypt were to combine the osirian and solar cosmogonies in the funerary literature and iconography. The two main pillars in the belief of resurrection in Ancient Egypt were the myth of Osiris and the solar theory. The central aspect in the first one was the…

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Ancient Egypt Resurrection. The Penis of Tutankhamun.

In Ancient Egypt, virility was an essential faculty for granting the dead’s resurrection. All along my work I have been showing that, among the many practices in Ancient Egypt for reviving the corpse, there was one made by the professional mourners in the role of Isis and Nephthys. These two women shook their hair forwards the mummy…

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Sexual Stimulation in Ancient Egypt: The Ushabti of Pay.

In ancient Egypt the dead needed many faculties for restarting his new life in the Hereafter: breathing, seeing, walking…and virility. Sex was an essential aspect for the resurrection in Ancient Egypt and in the funerary rites some ritual practices were full of sexual symbolism. In this line I would like to focus on the ushabti…

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“The Hand in the Mouth”: Nursing the Baby in Ancient Egypt.

Let’s  make a reflection about the expression “Djat Ra” belonging to the Opening of the Mouth ceremony of Ancient Egypt and that we saw in a previous post. It appears in a resurrection scene in the tomb of Qar; according to the inscription the mourner and the embalmer are making the “Djat Ra“. Many scholars considered that with…

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The Dead: An Observer in the Egyptian Art.

Perspective in Egyptian art was special. For us, perspective is the representation on a flat surface of reality how it is seen by human eye. That means that observer is an important element when the artists paints or draw something. In Egyptian art the artists had to represent reality, not how it was seen, but how it was.  The Egyptian artisan did not think about depth or…

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Serket: scorpion and waterscorpion in Ancient Egypt.

The goddess Serket was associated in Ancient Egypt to the scorpion and to the waterscorpion. Scholars have usually cosidered the ancient Egyptian goddess Serket as a goddess scorpion, whose harmful bite made her an effective protection against poisonous stings. Not for nothing, Serket is invoked in many remedies against scorpions bites. But the animal in the…

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Hair in Egyptian Art for Respect and Reverence in Women.

Egyptian artisans of the New Kingdom used hair in their drawings for expressing body movements (dance, body bow…). This technique, adopted from the way of drawing the professional mourners, was applied to the masculine figures in a respectful attitude. The front lock of hair forwards helped the Egyptian artist to represent the respectful bow in…

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Hair in Egyptian Art for Expressing Respect.

Hair became in Ancient Egypt a resource for expressing things. The bending hair was used in Ancient Egypt art for drawing body movements. As some movements were related in Ancient Egyptian belief to some attitudes, hair was also used for expressing those attitudes. We are referring concretly to “respect”. The gesture of bending the body forwards was…

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Hair in the Art of Ancient Egypt for expressing Dance.

Due to the estrict rules of the Egyptian art, artists in Ancient Egypt needed to find unnatural ways of expressing some movements, especially during the Old and Middle Kingdom. Distorsion and sprain characterises dynamic scenes (dancing, acrobaces, games…) in those periods of Egyptian history. However, from the New Kingdom dynamism appears in Ancient Egypt decoration…

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