Manual Egyptian Ideas of Eternal Life - Illustrated

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Painters would follow in the same manner. Where scenes have been left unfinished it is possible to see the corrections made to the work of less-skilled hands by more practised craftsmen. Many master craftsmen reached positions of influence and social importance, as we know from their own funerary monuments. Imhotep , the architect who built the Step Pyramid complex for King Zoser, BC, was so highly revered in later times that he was deified.

The credit for any work of art, however, was believed to belong to the patron who had commissioned it. Rules of Painting. Egyptian civilization was highly religious. Thus most Egyptian artworks involve the depiction of many gods and goddesses - of whom the Pharaoh was one. In addition, the Egyptian respect for order and conservative values led to the establishment of complex rules for how both Gods and humans could be represented by artists. For example, in figure painting , the sizes of figures were calculated purely by reference to the person's social status, rather than by the normal artistic rules of linear perspective.

The same formula for painting the human figure was used over hundreds if not thousands of years. Head and legs always in profile; eyes and upper body viewed from the front. For Egyptian sculpture and statues, the rules stated that male statues should be darker than female ones; when seated, the subject's hands should be on knees.

Leovation - HK Science Museum - Eternal Life Exploring Ancient Egypt" Exhibition

Gods too were depicted according to their position in the hierarchy of deities, and always in the same guise. For instance, Horus the sky god was always represented with a falcon's head, Anubis the god of funeral rites was always depicted with a jackal's head.

The use of colour in Egyptian paintings was also regulated and used symbolically. Egyptian artists used six colours in their paintings red, green, blue, yellow, white and black.

Why the Ancient Egyptians Built Pyramids - A matter of Religion

Red, being the colour of power, symbolized life and victory, as well as anger and fire. Green symbolized new life, growth, and fertility, while blue symbolized creation and rebirth, and yellow symbolized the eternal, such as the qualities of the sun and gold. Yellow was the colour of Ra and of all the pharaohs, which is why the sarcophagi and funeral masks were made of gold to symbolize the everlasting and eternal pharaoh who was now a god.

White was the colour of purity, symbolizing all things sacred, and was typically used used in religious objects and tools used by the priests. Black was the colour of death and represented the underworld and the night. Egyptian Arts And The Afterlife. Nearly all of Ancient Egypt's surviving paintings were discovered in tombs of the pharaohs or high governmental officials, and portrays scenes of the afterlife. Known as funerary art, these pictures depicted the narrative of life after death as well as things like servants, boats and food to help the deceased in their trip through the after life.

These paintings would be executed on papyrus, on panels , using encaustic paint or on walls in the form of fresco murals using tempera. In addition, models eg. As the spirit inhabited the body, the preservation of the latter against decay was also critical. The use of tightly wrapped bandages to mummify the corpse, and the removal and packaging of internal organs within ceramic canopic jars and other opulent sarcophagi became widespread among the ruling elite. All these arrangements helped to support a nationwide industry of Egyptian artists and craftsmen who laboured to produce the artworks paintings, scultures, pottery, ceramics, jewellery and metalwork required.

Egyptian sculpture was highly symbolic and for most of Egyptian history was not intended to be naturalistic or realistic. Sculptures and statues were made from clay, wood , metal, ivory, and stone - of which stone was the most permanent and plentiful.

Many Egyptian sculptures were painted in vivid colours. NOTE: In addition to pyramid architecture, stone sculpture, goldsmithing and the Fayum Mummy portraits, Egyptian craftsmen are also noted for their ancient pottery , especially Egyptian faience , a non-clay-based ceramic art developed in Egypt from BCE, although it began in Mesopotamia. The oldest surviving faience workshop, complete with advanced lined brick kilns, was found at Abydos in the mid-Nile area. Egyptian faience is a non-clay based ceramic composed of powdered quartz or sand, covered with a vitreous coating, often made with copper pigments to give a transparent blue or blue-green sheen.

See Pottery Timeline. Born into the cult of Amon Amen , a line that worshipped a wide range of gods, he changed his name to Akhenaton and, strengthened by his control of the army, instituted the worship only of Aten, a sun god. The Egyptian capital and royal court was moved to Amarna in Middle Egypt. All this led to a radical break with tradition, especially in the arts, such as painting and sculpture. They became more naturalistic and more dynamic than the static rule-bound art of previous eras. In particular, the Amarna style of art was characterized by a sense of movement and activity.

Portraits of Egyptian nobles ceased to be idealized, and some were even caricatured. The presence of Aten in many pictures was represented by a golden disc shining down from above.

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After the death of Akhenaton, the next Pharaoh - the child Tutankhaten - was persuaded to move back to Memphis and change his name to Tutankhamen, thus reverting to Amon. As a result, Egyptian painters and sculptors largely returned to the old traditions which continued until the Hellenistic era from BCE onwards. For contemporaneous sculpture, see for instance the Human-headed Winged Bull and Lion BCE from Ashurnasirpal's palace at Nimrud, and the alabaster reliefs of lion-hunts featuring Ashurnasirpal II and Ashurbanipal, both characteristic examples of Assyrian art c.

The influence of Greek Hellenistic art on Egyptian artists, a process accelerated during the Ptolemaic Era, encouraged the naturalistic representation of individuals in paintings and sculpture, not unlike the process initiated by Akhenaton. Portraits became realistic and the rules of colour were relaxed. This trend was further encouraged by the practical Roman style of art. The most famous example of Hellenistic-Egyptian painting during the era of classical antiquity , is the series of Fayum Mummy Portraits , discovered mainly around the Faiyum basin, west of the Nile, near Cairo.

A type of naturalistic portraiture, strongly influenced by Greek art , notably Hellenistic Greek painting BCE , Fayum portraits were attached to the burial cloth of the deceased person. Preserved by the exceptionally dry conditions, these paintings represent the largest single body of original art which has survived from Antiquity. Note: The rulers of Egypt were not called Pharaohs by their own people. This word was only used by the Greeks and Hebrews.

However, today it is the accepted term for for all the ancient Kings of Egypt. The earliest incised figures and scenes in relief date from prehistoric times when slate cosmetic panels and combs of wood, bone, and ivory were buried in the graves of their owners. These were carved in the simple, effective outlines of species familiar to the people of the Nile Valley - antelopes, ibex, fish, and birds.

More elaborate ivory combs and the ivory handles of flint knives which probably had some ceremonial purpose were carved in relief, the scene standing out from its background. By the end of the prehistoric period Egyptian sculpture was unmistakable, although up to this point there had been no great architectural monuments on which the skill of the sculptors could be displayed.

From the meagre evidence of a few carvings on fragments of bone and ivory we know that the gods were worshipped in shrines constructed of bundles of reeds. The chieftains of prehistoric Egypt probably lived in similar structures, very like the ones still found in the marshes of South Arabia. The work of sculptors was displayed in the production of ceremonial mace-heads and palettes, carved to commemorate victories and other important events and dedicated to the gods. They show that the distinctive sculptural style, echoed in all later periods of Egyptian history, had already emerged, and the convention of showing the human figure partly in profile and partly in frontal view was well-established.

The significance of many details cannot yet be fully explained, but representations of the king as a powerful lion or a strong bull are often repeated in Dynastic times. Tomb Reliefs Early royal reliefs, showing the king smiting his enemies or striding forward in ritual pose, are somewhat stilted, but by the 3rd Dynasty techniques were already very advanced.

Most surviving examples are in stone, but the wooden panels found in the tomb of Hesire at Saqqara, BCE, show the excellence achieved by master craftsmen Egyptian Museum, Cairo. These figures, standing and seated, carved according to the conventions of Egyptian ideals of manhood, emphasized in different ways the different elements of the human form. The head, chest, and legs are shown in profile, but the visible eye and the shoulders are depicted as if seen from the front, while the waist and hips are in three-quarter view.

However, this artificial pose does not look awkward because of the preservation of natural proportion. The excellence of the technique, shown in the fine modelling of the muscles of face and body, bestows a grace upon what might otherwise seem rigid and severe. Hesire, carrying the staff and sceptre of his rank together with the palette and pen case symbolizing his office of royal scribe, gazes proudly and confidently into eternity. The care of the craftsman does not stop with the figure of his patron, for the hieroglyphs making up the inscription giving the name and titles of the deceased are also carved with delicacy and assurance, and are fine representations in miniature of the animals, birds, and objects used in ancient Egyptian writing.

The animals and birds used as hieroglyphs are shown in true profile. The great cemeteries of Gizeh and Saqqara in which the nobles and court officials were buried near their kings, provide many examples of the skill of the craftsmen of the 4th, 5th, and 6th Dynasties, a skill rarely equaled in later periods. The focus of these early tombs was a slab of stone carved with a representation of the deceased sitting in front of a table of offerings.

The latter were usually placed above the false door, through which the spirit of the dead person, called the ka, might continue to enter and leave the tomb. The idea behind this was that the magical representation of offerings on the stelae, activated by the correct religious formulas, would exist for the rest of eternity, together with the ka of the person to whom they were made. In single scenes, or in works filling a wall from ceiling to floor, every figure had its proper place and was not permitted to overflow its allotted space.

One of the most notable achievements of Egyptian craftsmen was the way they filled the space available in a natural, balanced way, so that scenes full of life never seem to be cramped or overcrowded. The horizontal sequences or registers of scenes arranged on either side of the funerary stelae and false doors in 5th-Dynasty and 6th-Dynasty tombs are full of lively and natural detail. Here the daily life of peasant and noble was caught for eternity by the craftsman - the action of herdsman and fisherman frozen in mid-step, so that the owner of the tomb would always be surrounded by the daily bustle of his estate.

The subjects were intended to be typical of normal events, familiar scenes rather than special occasions. Egyptian craftsmen did not employ perspective to suggest depth and distance, but they did establish a convention whereby several registers, each with its own base line, could be used to depict a crowd of people. Those in the lowest register were understood to be nearest to the viewer, those in the highest furthest away.

A number of these scenes occur in the Old Kingdom: many offering-bearers bring the produce of their estates to a deceased noble at his funerary table, for instance, or troops of men are shown hauling a great statue. Statues represented in reliefs, like the hieroglyphs, are shown in true profile, in contrast to the figures of the men hauling them. Perhaps the best-known scenes showing nearness and distance, however, are the painted banqueting scenes of the New Kingdom, where the numerous guests, dressed in their finest clothes, sit in serried ranks in front of their hosts.

The registers could also be used to present various stages in a developing sequence of action, rather like the frames of a strip cartoon. In the Old Kingdom, the important events of the agricultural year follow each other across the walls of many tombs: ploughing, sowing, harvesting, and threshing the grain are all faithfully represented. The herdsmen are shown at work in the pastures caring for the cattle so prized by the ancient Egyptians, while other scenes depict the trapping of waterfowl in the Nile marshes and fishing in the river itself.

Other domestic activities, such as baking and brewing, also vital to the eternal existence of the dead noble are represented; other scenes show carpenters, potters, and jewellers at work. It was in these scenes of everyday life that the sculptor was able to use his initiative, and free himself to some extent from the ties of convention.

The dead man and his family had to be presented in ritual poses as described - larger than life, strictly proportioned, and always calm and somewhat aloof. The rural workers on the estates, however, could be shown at their daily asks in a more relaxed manner, capturing something of the liveliness and energy that must have characterized the ancient Egyptians.


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While the offering-bearers, symbolizing the funerary gifts from the estates to their lord, are depicted moving towards him in formal and stately procession, the peasants at work in the fields seem both sturdy and vigorous. They lean to the plough and beat the asses, tend the cattle and carry small calves on their shoulders clear of the danger of crocodiles lurking in the marshes. The natural details used to fill odd corners in these tomb scenes show how much pleasure the ancient Egyptian craftsmen took in observing their environment. Birds, insects, and clumps of plants were all used to balance and complete the picture.

The results of sharp-eyed observation can be seen in the details that distinguish the species of birds and fish thronging the reeds and shallow water of the marshes. Little survives of the reliefs that decorated the royal temples of the early 5th Dynasty, but from the funerary temple of the first king, Userkaf, c. The air above the graceful heads of the papyrus reeds is alive with birds, and the delicate carving makes them easily distinguishable even without the addition of colour. A hoopoe, ibis, kingfisher, and heron are unmistakable, and a large butterfly hovering above provides the final touch.

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Low Relief The tradition of finely detailed decoration in low relief, the figures standing out slightly above the background, continued through the 6th-Dynasty and into the Middle Kingdom, when it was particularly used for royal monuments. Few fragments of these remain, but the hieroglyphs carved on the little chapel of Sesostris I, now reconstructed at Karnak, show the sure and delicate touch of master craftsmen. During the late Old Kingdom, low relief was combined with other techniques such as incision, in which lines were simply cut into the stone, especially in non-royal monuments, and the result is often artistically very pleasing.

The limestone funerary stela of Neankhteti, c. The major part of the stela, the figure and the horizontal inscription above it, is in low relief, but an incised vertical panel of hieroglyphs repeats his name with another title, and the symbol for scribe, the palette and pen, needed for the beginning of both lines, is used only once, at the point at which the lines intersect. The result is a perfectly balanced design, and a welcome variation in the types of stelae carved during the Old Kingdom.

The figures of three standing officials and the hieroglyphic signs have been crisply incised into the hard red granite. Originally the signs and figures would have been filled with blue pigment, to contrast sharply with the polished red surface of the stone. Sunk Relief During the Middle Kingdom the use of sunk relief came into fashion, and in the 18th and early 19th Dynasties it was employed to great effect. The background was not cut away as in low relief to leave the figures standing above the level of the rest of the surface.

In Genesis 8 after the flood , a dove returned to Noah with an olive branch in its beak, revealing the end of God's judgment and the beginning of a new covenant with man. One of the most vivid symbols of Christianity is the crown of thorns, which Jesus wore before his crucifixion :. In the Bible thorns often represent sin, and therefore, the crown of thorns is fitting—because Jesus would bear the sins of the world.

There are many symbols of the Trinity in Christianity. The Borromean Rings—a concept taken from mathematics—are three interlocking circles that signify the divine trinity. A Borromean Ring falls apart if any one of the rings is removed. The word " trinity " comes from the Latin noun "trinitas" meaning "three are one. The Triquetra is an ancient pagan symbol found on Celtic period grave markers and stele that is used to represent a three-part interlocking fish symbol for the Christian trinity.

With so many references to God being "light" in Scripture, representations of light such as candles, flames, and lamps have become common symbols of Christianity:. Light represents the presence of God. God appeared to Moses in the burning bush and the Israelites in the pillar of flame. The eternal flame of God's presence was to be lit in the Temple in Jerusalem at all times. In fact, in the Jewish Feast of Dedication or "Festival of Lights," we remember the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Temple after being desecrated under Greco-Syrian captivity.

Even though they only had enough sacred oil for one day, God miraculously causes the eternal flame of his presence to burn for eight days, until more purified oil could be processed.

Journey to the Afterlife

Light also represents the direction and guidance of God. Psalm says God's Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path. The Star of David is a six-pointed star formed by two interlocking triangles, one pointing up, one pointing down. It is named after King David and appears on the flag of Israel. While predominately recognized as a symbol of Judaism and Israel, many Christians identify with the Star of David as well.

The five-pointed star is also a symbol of Christianity associated with the birth of the Savior , Jesus Christ. In Matthew 2 the Magi or wise men followed a star toward Jerusalem in search of the newborn King. From there the star led them to Bethlehem, to the very location where Jesus was born. When they found the child with his mother, they bowed and worshiped him, presenting him with gifts. Bread and wine or grapes represent the Lord's Supper or Communion.

Bread symbolizes life. It is the nourishment that sustains life. In the wilderness, God provided a daily, saving provision of manna , or "bread from heaven," for the children of Israel. And Jesus said in John , "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry. Bread also represents the physical body of Christ. Wine represents God's covenant in blood, poured out in payment for mankind's sin.

Jesus said in Luke , "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. Believers partake of communion on a regular basis to remember Christ's sacrifice and all that he has done for us in his life, death, and resurrection. The Lord's Supper is a time of self-examination and participation in the body of Christ. The Christian rainbow is a symbol of God's faithfulness and his promise to never again destroy the earth by flood. This promise comes from the story of Noah and the Flood.

After the flood , God placed a rainbow in the sky as a sign of his covenant with Noah to never again destroy the earth and all living creatures by flood. By arching high over the horizon, the rainbow shows the all-embracing expanse of God's faithfulness through his work of grace. The gospel of salvation , like a rainbow, is all-encompassing, and everyone is invited to behold it:. Writers of the Bible used rainbows to describe the glory of God:. In the book of Revelation , the Apostle John saw a rainbow around the throne of God in heaven :.

The unending circle or wedding ring is a symbol of eternity. For Christian couples, the exchanging of the wedding rings is the outward expression of the inward bond, as two hearts unite as one and promise to love each other with fidelity for all eternity. Likewise, the wedding covenant and the husband and wife relationship is a picture of the relationship between Jesus Christ and his bride, the church.

Husbands are urged to lay down their lives in sacrificial love and protection. And in the safe and cherished embrace of a loving husband, a wife naturally responds in submission and respect. Just as the marriage relationship , symbolized in the unending circle, is designed to last forever, so too will the believer's relationship with Christ endure for all eternity. The Lamb of God represents Jesus Christ, the perfect, sinless sacrifice offered by God to atone for the sins of man. The Holy Bible is the Word of God. It is the Christian's handbook for life.

God's message to mankind — his love letter — is contained in the pages of the Bible. In essence, they are a summary of the hundreds of laws found in the Old Testament Law. They offer basic rules of behavior for spiritual and moral living. The story of the Ten Commandments is recorded in Exodus and Deuteronomy