A Fragment From the Tomb of Nefermaat and Itet Essay
A quite significant piece of Egyptian history, a fragment from the Tomb of Nefermaat and Itet, was created on an 118 in. x 36 ? in. piece of limestone with colored paste (and modern restoration) in the Old Kingdom Dynasty 4, ca. 2430 BCE. The fragment’s hieroglyphic text alongside Nefermaat claims that ‘He is one who made his signs in writing that cannot be erased,’ warning those around that it was impossible to deface his or his wife, Itet’s, names.
Nefermaat and Itet have been placed in the first two registers, while the bottom serves residency to four of the sons, with the remaining two placed behind Itet in the second register. Of the many features this particular piece conveys, its most prominent are the symbols (hieroglyphs) and colors used within them, the use of hierarchical scale and the emphasis on the Nefermaat and Itet themselves, as well as the use of line, shapes, and balance. The piece as a whole symbolizes figures and items of importance in the Egyptian period. What tends to draw the eye to any form of art, in most cases, is color.
In the fragment of the Tomb of Nefermaat and Itet, the act of depicting the hieroglyphic symbols in bright colors makes it that much more likely to attract curiosity of its viewers. An array of colors are used, though many are repeated in the vertical row of hieroglyphic symbols. Nefermaat and Itet are two different shades of brown; Nefermaat appearing a few shades darker than his wife, with the majority of his sons following suit in terms of their father’s color. The clothing that has been placed on the husband and wife are an illuminated white, whereas the sons appear to be bare-skinned.
When it comes to the placement on the hierarchical scale, Nefermaat’s stature is the most prominent; as far as the viewers knows, he runs things around the place. Next on the scale would be Itet. The decreased size of the sons make it clear that they are at a lower level of power and importance in the Egyptian period. The thickness of Nefermaat’s body parts suggests masculinity, causing him to come off as a figure of protection for his family, while Itet’s daintiness in fact suggests a need of just that.
The positions in which the figures have been placed most likely also signify a specific meaning. The positions of the colorful symbols create a path leading vertically through the fragment, beginning above the head of Nefermaat in the first register and winding around to the third register, aligning above the heads of the four sons, who are also on the third register. This feature makes the eyes of the viewer travel around the entire image rather than a specific area. The layout of this fragment from the Tomb of Nefermaat and Itet portrays a descending order in balance.
It begins at the top with the largest figure, and scales down to smaller and then the smallest as the fragment deepens in length. Although each register is different in terms of dimensions, the fragment itself finds a way to depict a balancing feel all the while. Both straight and curved lines are used in the fragment; the symbols and bodies of Nefermaat and Itet themselves are rounded, while distinct, straight lines separate the registers from one another. Lines are also unmistakably shown throughout the texture of the limestone itself, suggesting that it is most likely quite aged.
The medium that was used may in fact draw more interest due to its aged look, making its viewers curious about the history of the piece. This fragment from the Tomb of Nefermaat and Itet radiates a sense of deeper meaning than what appears. Visually, the most prominent features are the piece’s colors, the use of line, shape, and hierarchic scale, as well as the unique balance in which the fragment portrays. Using a variety of colors causes the fragment to be more visually appealing as your eyes scale down the limestone.
The hieroglyphic symbols wrap around the limestone in a way that forces your attention to be focused on not just one, but all three registers that are included in the fragment. Nefermaat’s and Itet’s rank on the hierarchical scale has become very apparent through the positions that they have been placed, as well as their sons’. The fragment from the Tomb of Nefermaat and Itet is a piece of great importance to the Egyptian time period and for, at least visually, good reason.
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