Egyptian history and sculptures

The sculpture of Ancient Egypt is one of the most original and strictly canonically developed areas of the art of Ancient Egypt. Sculpture was created and developed to represent kings and queens in physical form. There were also many images in the graves of ordinary Egyptians, mostly made of wood, some of which have survived. Statues of gods and pharaohs were placed on public display, in open spaces and outside temples. The great sphinx in Giza was not repeated anywhere else in life-size, but alleys with reduced copies of the sphinx and other animals became an indispensable attribute of many temple complexes. The sacred image of the god itself was in the temple, in the altar part, and in a boat or barge, usually made of precious metals, no such image has survived. A huge number of carved figurines have been preserved - from figures of gods to toys and dishes. Such figurines were made not only of wood but also of alabaster, a more expensive material. Wooden images of slaves, animals, and property were placed in tombs to accompany the dead in the afterlife.

Egyptian tomb

The philosophy of life in Ancient Egypt was the desire to continue life after death. The sculpture was an important intermediary in the implementation of this idea. The abundance of statues in tombs and temples throughout the history of ancient Egypt corresponds to ritual needs. The sculpture served as a shelter to store the energy of the deceased - Ka. In the case of the disappearance of the physical body, the copy statue had to replace the deceased person, that is, the life of nature continued in the image. This is how a sculptural portrait was born. Statues were not created for contemplation, but to fulfill a sacred purpose, and based on this, strict rules (canons) of the image were developed: static, frontal, and symmetrical.

The entire sculpture of Ancient Egypt impresses first of all with its monumental statics. The image froze for centuries in its immutability. This mesmerizing calm of Egyptian sculpture carries an incomprehensible mystery of being and such an understanding of the world order, which is completely lost in our busy times. The entire sculpture is designed for frontal viewing. There are two types of images of divine dignity: a seated and a standing figure. The model has a standing figure with arms extended along the body, and one leg extended forward. The sitting figure is solved geometrically: the body is located clearly at a right angle to the lower part. The hands lie on the knees. The figure sits on a cube-shaped volume, which gives it rigidity. These canons do not include scribes depicted sitting on the ground in the lotus position (statue of the royal scribe Kai), and images of servants in a small plastic.

The Egyptian cat has gained great popularity in our time.

Egyptian Cat

It is a variant of ancient classical symbolism, identified with the divine beginning. The cat figurine is one of the temples attributes that priests often used in their rituals. A symbol of intelligence, wisdom, and courage as a talisman, the decorative ornament was often used in their homes by representatives of the upper classes. Since a black cat souvenir was considered an object of luxury and wealth, only representatives of the wealthy nobility, engineers, and close servants of the pharaohs could afford it.

The symbol of a successful life was considered an attribute of the goddess of love - Hathor. The queen of the underground kingdom in Egyptian myths is represented by an incredibly beautiful, feminine, young girl with the grace of a cat, and her natural charm. The ruler of the west was the goddess of love even for those who had already died. Still very young, but resistant to temptation, Hathor introduced the tradition of honoring not only the cat but also the Great Sphinx. Therefore, the sons of Egypt were forced to recognize the symbol as its embodiment. The cat totem is a legacy of the Egyptian gods.

For the ruling strata of the Egyptian population, the figure of a black cat served as a kind of reminder that the price of the heart of a poor and rich person after death will be the same. The Egyptian gods wanted the living to start thinking about what fate would be in store for their souls if they oppressed the poor, the weak, and the destitute during their lifetime.

A beautiful Egyptian souvenir, the black cat is also a symbol of ancient secrets, magic, and occult rituals. Our ancestors considered a black cat a talisman that warns of evil spirits, and witches. The color scheme of the branded souvenir product symbolizes the mystery of the night and the wealth of the day.

A souvenir with a unique symbolic meaning will be an excellent gift for someone who wants to attract luck, happiness, and wealth, and drive away misfortune and misfortune.

Attributes in the depiction of royal persons remain unchanged throughout history. As a rule, monarchs were depicted with a bare torso, dressed in pleated skirts, and with royal scarf on their heads. Sometimes the figure of the king was depicted with a falcon. This is the god Horus in his Falcon"s face. The king was considered a direct descendant of Horus. A head with a headdress and a ceremonial beard, correct facial features, and an unchanging expression of glassy eyes - this is the image of the reigning monarch that appeared in the sculpture of Ancient Egypt. All monarchs were depicted as young, and full of vitality. A young body is considered a symbol of life and at the same time eternity. The sphinxes embodied the supernatural idea of the divine essence of the ruler of Egypt. The famous Great Sphinx, which rises near the lower pyramidal temple of Khafre, is well-deservedly popular. Its base is a limestone rock that resembles the figure of a lying lion. The height of the sphinx is 20 m, and the length is 57 m. On the head of the sphinx is a striped royal handkerchief, above the forehead was a uraeus - a sacred cobra, according to the beliefs of the Egyptians, it protected gods and kings with its fiery breath. The face of the sphinx was painted in brick color, and the stripes of the handkerchief - in blue and red. The main material from which the sculpture was made is hard rock. The strength of the stone ensured the eternity of existence. In addition to stone, limestone and wood were used, which were painted in different colors. All the qualities inherent in Egyptian sculpture were determined by the sculptor"s method of stone processing. The essence was as follows: a projection of the future statue is drawn on a four-sided block on each side, then it is cut out simultaneously from four sides, in straight, flat layers.

The Great Sphinx of Egypt is one of the largest and oldest sculptures in the world. Many secrets are connected with it, about which little is known to this day.

A huge statue with the body of a lion and the head of a man is located on the west bank of the Nile near Cairo. The building is made of a single piece of limestone and has the following dimensions: length - 73 m, width - 19 m, height - 20 m.


1. Colored Sphinx
It is hard to imagine now, but once the sculpture was painted. This is evidenced by the remains of red, yellow, and blue paint. Now it is an architectural monument of gray-sand color.

2. Beard of the Sphinx
It"s hard to believe, but the Sphinx once had a beard. Due to severe erosion, the remains of the beard were moved to the museum. French geologists claim that the beard appeared later than the face of the statue. They justify their words by the fact that if the beard was there in the first place, then its removal would greatly harm the rest of the face.

3. Where did the nose of the Sphinx go?
The fact of the destruction of the nose remains little known. Some insist on the guilt of Napoleon Bonaparte. Allegedly, because of his pride, he ordered the nose of the statue to be cut off. Other researchers provide previously found drawings that confirm that the nose did not exist long before the birth of Napoleon.

4. What is inside the Sphinx?
Controversy about the mysterious rooms continues to this day. Japanese researchers discovered a secret room and a long tunnel inside the Sphinx. Fearing that further research would damage the statue, the Egyptians forbade them to continue.

It should be noted that ancient Egyptian sculpture did not yet set the task of conveying character and mood. These problems will arise and be solved much later, in other eras. Nevertheless, the portrait played an important role in Egyptian art. By the essence of its purpose, the portrait served magical purposes, it was not intended to be viewed by the viewer: the sculptural portrait was walled up in the burial chamber so that Ka"s double could return after wanderings and recognize his body. It is important to understand that despite all the similarities with the model, the portrait has an abstract character. His realism is relative - it has no organic vitality or individual facial expressions, his gaze wanders into another world, and his face does not express anger, surprise, or smile. Nevertheless, talented sculptors, even within the restrictive framework of the canon, managed to create several wonderful portraits, mostly of noble people. Compositions of paired family portraits were common, for example, expressive sculptures known under the names "Rakhotepa and Nofret", "Family group of the dwarf Seneb", "Kai"s scribe", and "Village headman".


Some changes took place in the sculpture of the Middle Kingdom. The peculiarity of the socio-political structure of this period was the weakening of the power of the pharaohs and the growing influence of representatives of the agricultural nobility. There is a struggle between the nomes (regions), which ended with the victory of the southern nomes, led by the ruler of Thebes. Gradually, the inviolable ideology of the Ancient Kingdom begins to weaken. Scientific thought is developing, especially in the fields of medicine and mathematics. There is no longer such an unconditional belief in the afterlife. The accumulated problems of earthly life were reflected on the faces of the sculptures of some pharaohs: the gaze usually directed to infinity turned into melancholy, some fatigue - such portraits of Senusert the Third and Amenemhet the Third. Made of pink granite, the head of the statue of Senusert the Third (Metropolitan Museum in New York) impresses with an unusual look, which used to be clear and firm, but now tired, swollen eyelids are lowered, eyebrow folds have appeared. Statues of kings began to be installed not only in funeral chambers but also inside the temple and outside the building, under the open sky.

Small sculptures made of wood or terracotta are extremely common in the Middle Kingdom. The small sculpture (20-30 cm) depicts servants busy with their daily work.

The sculpture of the New Kingdom developed in three ways: the desire for gigantomastia, sophistication, decorativeness, and the reality of life. The period of the New Kingdom is characterized by the flourishing of the Egyptian state due to military conquests. Egypt is trying to return the former power and traditions of the Old Kingdom. Unseen figures called giants are created, which are installed outside the temples. The most famous colossi are in Thebes, and since the time of the Greeks, these statues of Amenhotep have been called the colossi of Memnon. They were part of the temple of Amenhotep the Third (XIV century BC). An avenue of sphinxes with the face of Amenhotep led to this temple. The temple was destroyed, and two sphinxes were preserved, which have been on the bank of the Neva in St. Petersburg since 1832. Despite the monumentality of the image, the St. Petersburg granite sphinxes with the young face of Amenhotep the Third impress with their grace and sophistication. Many statues of Queen Hatshepsut have been preserved, where her beautiful face is softly and gently modeled in stone.

To understand the nature of the art of the New Kingdom, it is necessary to take into account the peculiarity of the formed circumstances. The influx of wealth changed the living conditions of the nobility, and the desire for luxury increased. Cities and palaces were beautified, everyday life changed, and the appearance of a person also changed. Art becomes lush and decorative, realistic aspirations quickly grow in it.

Special pages in the history of the New Kingdom are occupied by the reign of Amenhotep the Fourth, Akhenaten (1352-1338 BC), who reformed the orthodox religious doctrine. Wanting to undermine the significance of the priesthood and strengthen the power of the pharaohs, he announced a new god Aten - the sun disk. Seeking to demonstratively show his break with the past, the pharaoh left Thebes - the center of the cult of Amun and built a new capital, called Akhenaton. From the point of view of history, it was a grandiose act, age-old traditions were broken. The cult of the former gods was forbidden, and their temples were closed. The sanctuary of Aten is a large open courtyard with many small altars and one large, royal one. New ideas were immediately reflected in art. Akhenaten"s period was called Amarna from the name of the modern district of El-Amarna, where the remains of the former capital were found. Amarna"s art tells us about the life of the royal family with all naturalness and realism.


Portraits of Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti have been preserved. The king is shown without ornaments, with all the features of his face and figure. The three sculptural busts of Nefertiti are beautiful and sensual. In this period, the sculpture resolutely affirms the sensuality of female images.
The period of Amarna art, full of love and charm, was short. After the death of Akhenaten, everything changed. It was necessary to restore the former power of the state, which had weakened during the reign of Akhenaten. Echoes of the natural style of Amarna can be seen in the treasures of Tutankhamun"s tomb, which was discovered in 1922 by archaeologist Howard Carter. The treasures of Tutankhamun, who was the husband of the third daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, impress with their sophistication and beauty. It is enough to mention the golden mask, the golden coffin, the statuettes of the goddesses, and the ceremonial throne with images of Tutankhamun and his wife Ankhesamon lined with precious stones on a golden background.

In the post-Amarna period, during the reign of Ramses the Second, the sculpture will radically change. Ramses built a new capital, Tanis, where sculptors tried to revive the style of the Old Kingdom, endowing their sculptures with immobility, massiveness, and an indifferent facial expression. With this, they sought to create the image of a powerful king. But the form was sluggish and already inorganic of time. This academicism spoke of the beginning of the fading of a once-great culture. An example can be the giant sculptures of Ramses the Second and Queen Nefertari on the facade of the Great Temple.


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