Ancient Egypt. Art & Writing. Function of Egyptian Art. Mostly created for religious purposes Symbolism reveals much about the Egyptians beliefs about the world In both social and religious context, the works of art played a practical role in Egyptian life:
Art & Writing
Size indicates relative importance. Images of the king are often much larger than life to symbolize the ruler’s superhuman powers.
Hapi, God of the Nile
This relief is from the restored temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel (c. 1270). It shows two Hapi figures tying the knot that binds Upper and Lower Egypt.
It is believed that each village community had a local god or goddess whose symbol or standard was housed in a special location. This symbol was carried to war and honored at festive occasions. Larger communities might have supported several gods. Priests at a central temple might have grouped gods into families or linked them into myths.
This drawing shows a scene from the Life of Isis, the wife of Osiris and mother of Horus, the falcon god.
Egyptians were successful farmers. Whenever Nile floodwaters receded, the remaining fresh, black, fertile soil was suitable for intensive agriculture. Irrigation ditches distributed water over the fields. Farmers used simple wooden plows for plowing and sowing in the light soil, as deep plowing was unnecessary and would only turn up sand. Pigs or goats trampled and buried the seeds, which readily germinated in the fertile Nile mud.
Wealth in Egypt was measured in terms of cattle. Here, farmers tend to their livestock.
Egyptians developed geometry as a way of measuring land boundaries washed away by Nile flooding. They also discovered how to compute areas of triangles, squares, and circles, as well as such three-dimensional figures as cubes, spheres, and pyramids. Simpler measurements based on body parts were also used for less complex tasks.
Judgment Hall of Osiris
In death, All Egyptians were called to account for their actions in life. In this illustration from The Book of Dead, the deceased stands under the scales. The jackal god, Anubis, weighs the heart of the deceased against the pure white feather of maat. Thoth, with ibis head and scribe’s palette, stands by to record the results.
This wall painting (c. 1800 B.C.) shows the accomplishment of a monumental project. To transport a gigantic statue, teams of men haul a sledge, while one man pours liquid beneath the runners. Another uses clappers to beat a rhythm for those pulling on the ropes.