Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ancient Egyptian art

Egyptian Gazette

Navigate to the Tourism page. The story will expire on this page shortly. This is a long piece, but here's an extract:

Egyptian art is 5,000 years old. It emerged and took shape in Ancient Egypt, in the Nile Valley. Expressed in paintings and sculptures, it was highly symbolic and fascinating - this art form revolved round the past and was intended to keep history alive. Ahmed Abdel Hamid Youssef, an antiquities expert, says that many Egyptians only know about huge pyramids, the gold of Tutankhamoun, the big temples in Luxor and Karnak, with the Valley of the Kings. “Egypt's ancient artworks are among the finest worldwide and cannot be ignored,” he stresses. Mohamed el-Sagheer, Chairman of the Pharaonic Department at the Supreme Council of Antiquities says that, in a narrow sense, Ancient Egyptian art refers to the 2D and 3D art developed in Egypt from 3000 BC and used until the 3rd century AD.

Most elements of Egyptian art remained remarkably stable for over 3,000 years, representing the ancient civilisation without strong outside influence. The same basic conventions and quality of observation started at a high level and remained near that level for several millennia. Homeometric regularity, keen observation and exact representation of actual life and nature, and strict conformity to a set of rules for three-dimensional forms dominated the character and style of the art of Ancient Egypt. Completeness and exactness were preferred to prettiness and cosmetic representation.

Mohamed Ibrahim Bakr, former Chairman of the SCA, says that, because of the highly religious nature of Ancient Egyptian civilisation, many of the great works of Ancient Egypt depict gods, goddesses and Pharaohs, who were also considered divine. Ancient Egyptian art is characterised by the idea of order. Clear and simple lines combined with simple shapes and flat areas of colour helped create a sense of order and balance. Ancient Egyptian artists used vertical and horizontal reference lines in order to maintain the correct proportions in their work. Political and religious, as well as artistic, order was also maintained in Egyptian art. In order to clearly define their social hierarchy, figures were drawn to sizes based not on their distance from the painter's point of view but on relative importance.

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