Monday, June 27, 2011

Topics: Sculpture

Statues were among the most important features of Egyptian arts. A statue had an essential function in the tomb throughout Pharaonic times, which was to enable the spirit to identify the features of the deceased person so that it could find him in the hereafter. Throughout the Old, Intermediate, and New Kingdoms, the art of sculpture flourished and produced a number of statues of different types. Egyptians used the size of their sculptures to show the social order. The pharaoh was larger than life-size, sometimes weighing hundreds of tons. Scribes and court officials were life-size, and servants and peasants, although made with high precision, were small, usually less than 50 centimeters. These statues exhibited the servant in various attitudes of working. Also, the shawabti statues, a few centimeters high, were like servants that are called by the master in the hereafter to perform the tasks he needs. There were 365 such shawabti statues, representing the days of the year.

A basic feature of Egyptian sculpture was the Pharaonic Needles, made through utilizing high architectural technology, as the needle was cut from a single stone block. Needles were among the most prominent elements of ancient architecture, usually located on both sides of entrances to temples. Columns had a special status in Egyptian temples in the Pharaonic and Greek eras. A column consists of three parts: the base, body, and crown. Columns were either square or rounded. Crowns took different shapes similar to flowers and plants, such as the palm tree and the lotus plant. A common shape was that of a woven basket with an ornamental plant shape or grape vines inside.

In the Greco-Roman era, Romans discovered many types of marble in the Red Sea mountains, which they used extensively in sculpture and construction. Movement and dress folds became evident in sculptural style. Several statues, particularly of kings and gods, have been found apart from their heads. A special type of sculpture emerged during that era, known as terracotta, which are small statues made of pottery with heights ranging between 5 and 20 centimeters. Large numbers of statues were found representing animals, such as a vulture, cat, hippopotamus, monkey, bull, lion, and dog, as well as human figures.

The Coptic culture only focused on two particular types of sculpture. The first type is the tombstone, which is a plate of limestone whose upper part is often shaped like a triangle with drawings. The tombstone bears the portrait of the deceased and date of death. The second type of sculpture is the cornice, which is a carved decorative element above or below walls and used for decoration of churches and abbeys. They usually had plant or animal ornamentations and in special cases, human figures. Since the sixth century AD, the cross appeared in the middle.

Sculpture played a small role in Islamic culture, since Islam rejected all aspects of the previous pagan religions. Therefore, only a few statues from that time period were found; these were not carved, but made out of templates. Most of these small statues were of small animals, such as a rabbit or gazelle.

Eternal Egypt