Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ancient Egypt (pt. 8)

Hieroglyphics means "sacred writing."  This was the written language of Ancient Egypt.  Thanks to the Rosetta Stone, found by Napoleon's men in 1799, we can understand and translate hieroglyphics.
Along with hieroglyphics we see images—murals, sculptures, etc.—all a part of the Ancient Egyptian afterlife-obsessed culture.  Portraits from Ancient Egypt are usually stiff and idealistic, showing the body from only the best views so that the Ka would have a good body to indwell in the afterlife.  If an arm was hidden or forgotten by the artist, the Ka would inhabit a body without an arm.  So, the strict code of Egyptian portraiture was: profile-frontal-profile.  (This means, from top to bottom: side view of the face; front view of the chest and torso; then side view again of the legs and feet).
Profile-frontal-profile.  All Ancient Egyptian drawings of people were done this way.  As for sculpture, those images were equally rigid and stiff.  In the following statues (of pharaohs Khafre and Menkaure—the latter is seen with his wife), notice that each pharaoh has his right hand clenched (the right hand of power).
The style stayed this way and never changed, except during one pharaoh's reign…

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