The art of carving in ancient egypt

  Egypt is one of the birthplaces of human civilization. The ancient Egyptians created a highly ancient civilization, the most representative of which is their invention of hieroglyphs, pyramids, mummies and temples that shine with the light of civilization. Sculpture art is the link connecting these civilization carriers, and it has its unique artistic characteristics.
  Repetition and lack of permanence of change The earliest carvings in
  ancient Egypt were hieroglyphics, which the Greeks called “sacred carvings”. Their hieroglyphs are pictures carved in stone. The hieroglyphs used in sculpture, namely round and relief, are similar to hieroglyphs and are direct figurative characters. Ancient Egyptian carving has a persistent style. The simplicity of ancient Egyptian techniques surprised French Egyptologist Stone Maspero. He said: “Their popular styles are fundamentally different from ours. Whether it is a man or a beast, the subject is always a profile figure in relief in front of a flat background. Therefore, they aim to choose those that provide a characteristic silhouette. Shapes, so as to be reproduced in pure lines on a flat surface… The serene power of a resting lion, the silent sleepy gait of a leopard, the grimace of a monkey, and the delicate grace of an antelope are best found in Egyptian engraving However, it is not easy to express the characteristics of a person on a plane without departing from nature. It is impossible to reproduce a person satisfactorily by means of lines alone, and a profile of a profile necessarily excludes much of himself .” But it is the image of the person that is unforgettable. The faces and poses of the pharaoh do not have the characteristics of an individual portrait, but rather the indifferent image of a regular universe. As the incarnation of the immutable God, Pharaoh cannot be imagined as emotional.
  Sacredness closely related to religion The
  ancient Egyptians were the first to build altars, statues and temples to worship the gods. By about 3150 BC, when Menes unified Egypt, the shape of Egyptian sculpture for thousands of years after that had been revealed. Their carvings are inseparable from religion. Egyptian sculpture is a perfect embodiment of the static scene of life. Egyptian culture belongs to the eastern cultural system. Like ancient Chinese culture, it emphasizes collective wisdom and strength, and individual strength is negligible. Their enduring truth is the harmony between man and the eternal order embodied in their king. And because ancient Egyptian carving itself is a religious act, and religion requires a timeless carving style.
  By the time of the New Kingdom (1552-1069 BC), the form of the Egyptian round sculpture showed certain changes. Funeral statues are no longer hidden in the chambers where statues are kept. They are multiplied and sometimes become huge components of buildings; alternatively, they become figurines placed in coffins. Apart from Akhenaten’s period of religious transformation (1352-1338 BC), there were very few changes in the sculptural style. When Akhenaten moved his capital from Thebes to Amana, a modernist “Amana episode” emerged, emphasizing the sharing of power between the pharaoh and the king Aten, and a break from ancient rituals. It briefly left its mark on several very fashionable characters. But the episode soon ended. Egyptian religion dominated the art of sculpture, and ancient Egyptian sculpture never became secular.
  Practicality of Ancient Egyptian Sculpture
  To practical purpose, a funeral statue must be a clearly recognizable portrait of the deceased. Otherwise, the wandering guardian spirit may not find its proper abode. In temples dedicated to the gods, portraits must also be identified. However, it cannot capture casual or ordinary activity. The sculpture of the pharaoh that connects people and gods must express the majesty of the pharaoh, and cannot express the joy, anger, sorrow and joy in the short life of the world.
  During the Old Kingdom period, the dead king became the god Osiris. Then, gradually, all the dead Egyptians could also become Osiris, so there were more private tombs and funeral statues. The difficulty faced by the sculptor is to represent the individual figure without any time-bound character or personality. The stable figure with the hands at the sides of the body does not show movement, so the Egyptian sculptor concentrated on the immobile part of the body, the head. Egyptian sculptors were not just artists, their task was to ensure a happy afterlife for the tomb occupants. Their sculptures are intended to replace mummies. Should the mummy decay, be damaged, or be stolen, the deceased’s “guardian spirit”, his life force, needs this other abode. Portrait sculptures engraved with the deceased’s names and animated by a ritual of “opening the mouth” can be used in place of mummies. Inhabiting a carved likeness, the guardian spirit of the dead will live on forever. The portrait carvings in the mausoleum are by no means mere souvenirs, but intended to be designed as the characters themselves. It was not originally intended to please visitors. Because in the tombs of the early dynasties, these portrait carvings were hidden in sealed statue chambers. The funeral statue is to express a strong feeling of wilderness phobia, a kind of “claustrophobia”. This feeling is reflected in the pyramids, in the corpses wrapped in the coffins that decorate the sarcophagus, and in the entire sculpture. In these images, the legs and arms are confined within a solid cube of stone, with only the head, outer arms and toes protruding. The shape itself shows reliable closure and sturdiness.
  The Fixity of Ancient Egyptian Sculpture Styles
  Egyptian portrait sculpture, very early formed its own inherent style. Among the many unfinished mausoleums we find “grid” markings that guide the work of the sculptors. These were originally the constituent units of Egyptian sculpture models. A standing figure made up of 18 rows of squares (not counting the 19th row for the hair above the forehead). The smallest unit, the width of a fist, is equivalent to the side length of a square. 3 squares from wrist to elbow, 6 squares from sole to knee, 9 squares to underarm, 12 squares to cantilever elbow, 14.5 squares to armpit, 16 squares to shoulder . The figure of the seated figure should occupy 14 squares from the soles of the feet to the top of the head. The same pattern is suitable for painting and relief. Egyptian French not only dictated the position and proportions of each bodily detail, but also the manner in which the body was represented. On a plane, the head must appear sideways, while the eyes are frontal. The round statue is designed to be viewed from the front only. This inherent style bound the sculptor’s imagination, but it was also because of it that the high standard and unmistakable style of Egyptian sculpture over thousands of years existed. This style can not only reflect the sculptor’s superb skills, but also the shackles that bind the sculptor.
  The engraving must represent the pharaoh in a timeless pose. When standing, his feet should be firmly on the ground and his arms should be placed vertically at his sides. When seated, he adopts the sacred posture that he appears in the public eye. The ruler’s body is always young. Although differences in style can indicate the dynasty in which the statue was created, the statue only hints at the features of a particular pharaoh. During the New Kingdom period, in order to ensure a unified artistic image, the chief sculptor of the pharaoh created a standard portrait. A few sculptors were allowed to observe the pharaoh himself, and their works were cast and reproduced for use throughout the kingdom.
  Egyptian sculptors did not develop the laws of perspective, and the frontal image continued to dominate sculpture creation. Just as Egyptian society was idealized as immutable, Egyptian sculptors abstracted sculpture. They develop a fixed style early on, and they feel no need to “perfect” their style. The precociousness of Egyptian art and the stereotyped sculptural style were also its disaster. They did not experiment with making characters more human. Nor did the work they create become more faithful to nature. The higher a person’s status, the more rigid and unchangeable his portrait becomes, and the pharaoh became a stereotype very early on. Conversely, sculptures depicting low-ranking Egyptian officials are often seen with distinctive features and small or potbellied bodies. There are also some rules for these characters: scribes should be represented in priestly postures, whether walking or sitting, always with a roll of papyrus and writing materials; portraits of working people are created in a posture full of personality , you can see at a glance that they are plowing fields, herding cattle, fishing, building boats, playing music, performing acrobatics or dancing. When the figure is transformed from three-dimensional to two-dimensional in relief or painting, it is still subject to a fixed and objective French control. Without using perspective, they combined different viewpoints to show the solid shape and three-dimensionality of the body, resulting in a comic-like style.
  The enormity of
  ancient Egyptian carvings Ancient Egyptian carvings lacked natural representation. In order to make up for this shortcoming, they express it through size changes. Because their tomb and temple reliefs represented the more powerful people with larger figures, the largest statues were those of the most powerful people.
  The giant sphinx in the Giza region became a symbol of grandeur and mystery in ancient Egypt. The Great Sphinx, carved directly from the solid boulder on the stone site where the Pyramid of Cheops was mined and built, stands 66 feet above the desert, with a frontal width of 13 feet and a length from waist to front paw is 240 feet. The front legs (protruding 50 feet from the chest) were added by a mason. Using 10 inches as the normal length of a human head, the size of the Sphinx is almost 40,000 times larger than the original. It used to be part of a huge temple complex during the reign of Pharaoh Khafre. The human face was originally used to represent the pharaoh, but later in the New Kingdom it finally came to represent the sun god. The so-called Colossi of Memnon near the Valley of the Kings, although much damaged, still attract tourists with their hugeness and mystery. They are 70 feet tall, and each statue is carved from a single piece of stone. The style of this colossus is preserved in the work of the vibrant Ramses II. Ramses II ruled for 67 years (1279-1212 BC), having his image reproduced throughout Egypt, with his name inscribed on every available monument. He had many monumental construction projects, the most distinctive of which was his cave temple in Abu Simbel. The Great Temple of Abu Simbel reaches 200 feet into a block of sandstone. The front of the temple faces the rising sun. At the entrance, there are 4 huge seated statues of the sun god Ramses II. The incoming light magically illuminates a frieze of sacred baboons, as well as eight 32-foot-tall pharaohs dressed as the god Osiris. The pharaoh’s lips alone were 3 feet wide.
  To sum up, the formation of the artistic style and characteristics of ancient Egyptian sculpture mainly comes from the religious thought, soul concept, geographical environment, etc. of the ancient Egyptians, reflecting the daily life of the ancient Egyptians and the authority and rule of the pharaohs. Therefore, the carvings of ancient Egypt are not only treasures of ancient art, but also valuable historical documents.