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The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt Vol.3

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt Vol.3

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Published by: Арнауд Никодимов on Oct 30, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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was used in ancient Egypt from the Predy-nastic erathrough the Roman period. It enhanced almost every surface inEgyptian art: tomb and temple walls;mud-brick structures such as palaces, domestic shrines, and houses;sculpture and relief; coffins, sarcophagi, and cartonnage; cosmeticobjects, furniture, leather, linen, os-traca, papyri, pottery and tombmodels. Painting added detail to carved, sculpted, and moldedimages and in the case of Qat surfaces, created the form and designitself. The color of paint identified, and codified with its symbolicvalue, information about the image. Specific styles, techniques,representational types, and ateliers are revealed in painted imagesand scenes, which were crafted in response to the political, social,and religious demands of their time. Any discussion of paintingmust of course be limited, given the wide range of surfaces thatcarried painted decoration in ancient Egypt. For our purposes, ageneral study of painting will be followed by a chronologicalsurvey of Hat painting with figural decoration, focusing on thelargest category of painting, that on tomb walls.
.Typology and Techniques.
The Egyptian palette wascomposed of white
and yellow
knit). A
number of other colors wereformed by mixing the above colors to form blue-red
gray-blue, brown, and pink, among others. In the Old Kingdom, thebasic palette consisted of black, white, red, green, yellow, blue, andgray. By the Middle Kingdom, red tones were expanded to formbrown and pink; and later in the New Kingdom, additional shadesof blue, yellow, and red were added. This palette continued throughthe remainder of Egyptian painting, becoming more pastel in thePtolemaic and Roman periods.In painting, color had a symbolic and classificatory meaning tothe ancient Egyptians. Black, the color of the fertile earth,symbolized fertility, renewal, and the underworld. Red symbolizedfire, blood, the desert, and chaos;it was the skin color of the male figure in art. Yellow was a solarcolor connoting the sun, the flesh and bones of the gods; it was theskin tone of the female figure in art. White implied purity; green,growth, vigor, and resurrection. Blue, associated with water and theheavens, was frequently found in the bodies, beards, and wigs of deities;in the post-Amama period it became associated with the skin colorof Amun-re.The colors came from naturally occurring substances. Whitecame from calcium carbonate (whiting) or calcium sulphate(gypsum). Huntite white was first employed during the MiddleKingdom and became more common in the New Kingdom, when itwas used as a contrast to whitewash or as a base to bring out theluminosity of the overlaid pigments. Black was carbon fromcharcoal or deposited soot. Ochers, ranging from yellow to red todark brown, originated from naturally occurring iron oxides.Beginning in the Middle Kingdom, yellow was also obtained fromorpiment, which appeared as bright yellow. A lighter yellow wasderived from jarosite. Realgar red was used in the New Kingdomand appeared as a bright orange-red. Introduced in the fifthdynasty, the color blue was composed originally of azurite (coppercarbonate) from the Sinai and Eastern Desert; later it was manufac-tured from a frit compound of heated quartz, lime, and alkalis(natron or plant ash), ground malachite, and calcium carbonate.Green was made of naturally occurring powdered malachite or amixture of malachite and calcium carbonate. Sometimes ocheryellow was mixed with a blue frit to produce green. Varnish (treeresin or beeswax) was also added or applied to color. Varnish, firstused in the Predynastic period in tomb painting; was also appliedon vessels, coffins, minor art objects, and statuary eyes.To make those minerals and compounds suitable forapplication, they were first ground into a powder. Natural gum,derived from indigenous trees such as the acacia or from glue, wascombined with the colored particles. The pigment was then appliedwith a brush to stone, wood, plaster, linen, papyrus, leather, clay,or a wall prepared with gypsum plaster, which had been allowed todry before receiving paint, in a technique known as tempera. Insome cases, rapid execution or heavily trodden areas necessitatedapplying paint to a wet plaster surface, as can be seen on some of the royal palace floors at Tell el-Amama during the reign of Amenhotpe IV in the eighteenth dynasty. In the case of tomb wallsof poor-quality stone, the wall received a mixture of Nile mud andhacked straw, sometimes reinforced with limestone chips, to createa level surface, which was finished with several layers of gypsumplaster and smoothed before painting. Walls
 of good stone were dressed, patched with gypsum plaster,.smoothed, and coated with a thin plaster wash. Walls in mud-brick buildings, such as palaces and houses, were plastered before theyreceived painted decoration. To produce the so-called Faiyumportraits, encaustic was utilized; pigment was mixed with wax thatwas gently heated for easy application, and the mixture was appliedto primed wood with the help of a palette knife
or abrush. Brushes from all periods were made from a commonEgyptian rush
(Juncus maritimus),
palm ribs, or wood, which werecut, bruised into bristles, and bound together with a string. Thethickness of the brush determined the thickness of the line. Fromthe third century
on, the marsh reed
Phragmites communis
wasused as a type of quill pen.In wall compositions, scenes and figures were often constructedwith the help of a system of guide lines. First the boundaries of thewall and the register lines were marked by a string dipped in redpaint, which artisans stretched across the wall and snapped atintervals. Within this, a system of lines was drawn to aid the artistin building figures and scenes. Sometimes the draftsman drewforms freehand without the help of guide lines: After the sketchwas correctly drawn, background wash was applied of white, gray;pale blue-gray or yellow around the figures and objects; individualcolors were then painted in, and the forms were outlined again withthe details delineated with a fine brush. Rows and columns werealso drawn and the hieroglyphs painted in; when required, a finalbackground wash was applied. Procedural exceptions exist—forexample, in the Hall of Barks in the Temple of Sethy I at Abydos,where the background wash was applied last. Where the image wasto be carved, the corrected sketch was chiseled into sunk or raisedrelief and then painted. Lighting for painters working in dimly litareas was provided by lamps filled with oil and floating wicks thatproduced minimal smoke.In sculpture, relief, and the minor arts, color enhanced thesurface and indicated detail. In the case of soft stone and woodsculpture and objects, a layer of plaster was applied and thenpainted; sometimes color was painted directly on wood or hardstone. Raised and sunk relief often received plaster to even outdefects in the stone before color was brushed on. Linen funeraryand votive cloths were plastered and painted. Car-tonnage, or alter-nating layers of shaped linen and plaster, was decorated withcolorful vignettes. Funerary papyri made of strips of pressedpapyrus reed laid in transverse layers were painted with scenes andtexts, and then rolled to form "books" like the
 Book of Going Forthby Day (Book of the Dead).
On Predynastic vessels, designs werepainted in monochrome using a yellow-white calcareous clay slip(White Cross-lined Ware) or a red to purple-brown ocher(Decorated Ware). In the New Kingdom, polychrome decorationappeared on pots, executed with mineral pigments such as ochers,frits, calcium, soot, and cobalt blue. Egyptian faience, the heatedmixture of quartz sand with lime and alkalis (natron or plant ash)covered with a glaze, had details added in black or brown slurry(glazing powder) or paint. Bone and ivory contained designs in-cised and filled with color.Paint was applied in washes of solid colors placed side by side,which sometimes ran into one another, creating gradations of color. The deliberate use of shading and shadowing wasinfrequent. The Egyptian word "variegated"
described theuse of color to indicate textures such as fur, feathers, or scales.Color was also manipulated to create an illusion of depth incompositions with overlapping figures and objects, where nearand far figures were rendered in alternating tones.
Political, Religious, and Social Aspects.
Beginning in theEarly Dynastic era, specific royal iconography was developed toexpress the tenets of kingship and the strength of the state. Scenesof the king interacting with the gods and maintaining the order of the universe in painted temples and palaces displayed royal powerto the people. The elite, who were legitimized by and governed forthe king, showed their privileged position through the content andthe quality of the decoration in their tombs and funeraryequipment. The owner's titles, name, and chosen subject matterestablished his or her identity and status, and the style of paintingrevealed access to royal workshops and artists. The content andquality of the painted images of royalty and the elite proclaimed tothe governed in visual terms the stability of the state, variousideologies, and the order of the universe. Painted scenes expressedthe relationship between the living and the world of the gods andthe dead. In temples, the beauty of the decoration would persuadethe gods to reside there so that they would maintain theestablished order of the universe and continue the existence of theworld. Scenes and commentaries in royal tombs identified thedead king with the sun god and his perpetual regeneration. Non-royal tomb-chapels were places of assembly for family membersand other visitors.Certain representations occurred in specific contexts. Gods'temples were decorated with scenes such as the king performingritual acts before the gods, or deities embracing and giving gifts tothe ruler. Decoration was organized into lower, middle, and upperhorizontally stacked bands corresponding to subjects of terrestrial,divine, and celestial nature, respectively. Palace floors at the eigh-teenth dynasty royal cities of Tell el-Amama and Malqata werepainted with pools of water teeming with fish, rimmed with plantsand animals; ceilings were decorated with birds flying overhead.Palace throne daises and floors
 found at Tell el-Amama, Kom al-Samak (Malqata), and thenineteenth dynasty palace of Merenptah at Memphis were alsodecorated with images of bound prisoners over which the king, thepreserver of order, would walk, symbolically subduing Egypt'sfoes. Scenes in royal funerary temples emphasized the king'soffering cult and position in the cosmos and depicted events fromhis or her reign. Vignettes in the royal tombs were drawn fromvarious "books" representing the solar cycle, the underworld, andthe
 Book of Going Forth by Day,
as well as showing the ruler inthe presence of the gods.Objects and monuments intended for private patrons containedrepresentations of deities and depictions concerned with supplyingthe deceased with food, as well as information to ensure his or hersafe passage and rebirthin the next world. Coffins, designed to protect the body and act as ahome for the
were decorated with a false door, offerings, andoffering scenes, and later with gods and funerary scenes. Funerarypapyri and linen were painted with texts and vignettes fromfunerary "books." Figures of protective deities like Besembellished household altars and walls, and goddesses such asHathor adorned votive linens. Stelae were decorated with figures of the deceased before offerings, the king or deities; these were placedeither in the tomb to provide magically for the owner in the nextlife, or in temples where the patron would be linked with the godsand the temple rituals. Tomb chapels with scenes of offering andimages derived from funerary books or the patron's life ensuredthat he or she would not only be supplied with food and safe pas-
 Detail from a hunting scene, showing birds flyingover a papyrus marsh.
This wall painting is from theeighteenth dynasty private tomb of Menna at Thebes.(Courtesy Dieter Arnold)

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