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Egyptian Style Essay

“Egypt has long fascinated the west. ” This couldn’t be more true. Egyptian art can be said to be one of the most significant periods in art history. Their modern advances in such a far time ago were made unknowingly and helped shape art to what it is today. By just looking at it, Egyptian art may not come off as amazing as it actually is. One must dig deeper. The artwork they were creating wasn’t always made to be art. Instead, it was mainly made for religious purposes. Anything they created was being made to be symbolic in a religious view.

They decorated their temples with paintings and statues in the belief that doing this served the gods, showed devotion to the king, and maintained the order of the universe. There was much more involved in the artwork, or craftwork of the Ancient Egyptians. They created their own style that everyone followed, and it reoccured through many periods of Egyptian history. Styles can range from abstract to realism, expressionism to surrealism. But in order to understand these styles, one must need to know the true definition of style.

When used in describing the history of art, style usually refers to a characteristic, or a number of characteristics that we can identify as constant, recurring, or distinct. In art, the sum of such characteristics can be associated with a particular artist, group, or culture, or with an artist’s work at a specific time. Ancient Egyptian art forms styles were just that. They are characterized by regularity or consistency and detailed depiction of human beings and the nature. Artists wanted to preserve everything of the present time as clearly and permanently as possible.

Completeness took precedence over prettiness. These forms and art styles present an extraordinarily vivid representation of the time and the culture, as the ancient Egyptian life was lived thousand of years before. Egyptian art seemed to obey one law. The mode of representing man, nature and the environment remained almost the same for thousands of years at that time, and the most admired artists were those who replicated most admired styles of the past. A Shabti is a small human figure representing a person who would perform a given task for the deceased in the afterlife.

Described as “funerary figurines”, these figures were costly items produced for the privileged people. The wealthy nobles and royalty did not plan on doing any work themselves, so they would take their symbolic servants with them. Shabties were made from various materials including; faience, wax, clay, wood, stone, metal and other minerals. The Shabties observed, were from the time of 1932-1759 BCE. Covering the period of the Middle Kingdom. They all seemed to be very similar by the way the were posed with their arms crossed and standing up.

All their facial expressions seemed to have the same appearance as well. The painting or carving of the writing all looks similar but once looked at more closely to see the details, the the amount of time put into the pictures and writing can be seen. Many of patterns include lines drawn on the clothing. Also the figures were called upon to carry out the tasks in the after life. To do so the Shabti was supplied with miniature agricultural tools to fulfill these tasks. Which can be seen when looked at very closely.

What makes them different from each other is the medium they were created in. The faience figures are a blueish to light green color with most of the writing carved into it. The wood Shabties are painted over to be any color, sometimes even with golden leaf. To call these figures a type of object is correct. They are all objects that can be seen and once were touched and made. They all are this same type of object because even though they were made at different times and in difference places in Egypt, they all still are seen today.

If the Shabties were not grouped together, being able to recognize them separately would be just as easy. They are very distinct figures by their size, silhouette and detailed writing. Being able to be recognized Ancient Egyptian Shabties when separate and still look appropriate when together is one of the style characteristics Egyptians were able to create. The similarities in the each other figures, is the characteristic of being consistent. How each statue was placed in the glass case, they almost seemed to be grouped.

Beginning with the alabaster, the two figures were both of medium size and couldn’t make out much of the writing on them. The next grouping was ones made of limestone. With these three figures grouped together, one could see how they were created by the same artist following the steps of the first. The largest of the bunch was the limestone, Coffin of Luy. This was different from most in the collection since it was an actual open figure, but still had a reoccurring pattern like he other figures. The next grouping, The Three Shabties of Setau, were made out of wood.

These were the most colorful, since they were all painted. They seemed to still be like the older figures but made in a newer and more decorated way. The figures made of faience varied in size, some only a few inches. They were either carved in or has black paint writing on them. As seen, there is a large variety of Shabties, yet the sense of style kept between was able to pass along through hundreds of years. The one Shabti that stood out to me was the, Shabty of Sati. New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, Reign of Amenhotep III 1390-1352 BCE.

It was made out of faience, but wasn’t the common green-blue color. It had the most different colors all painted on it. Including red, blue, yellow, and green. The whole figured wasn’t painted so the faience material could be seen. What drew me to it at first was that it was in a case of its very own. It was in the same pose as the other figures but this one looked very well preserved, not smudged or chipped like many of the others, so it stood out. The combination of the paint and grey made it very unique to use both materials.

The style of this figure very much goes with the rest of figures. As stated earlier, the most admired artists were those who replicated the most admired styles of the past. With this figure since it was a later on piece, it seemed to still associate with the same characteristics of the past Shabeti figures. Ancient Egyptian artwork was not meant to be artwork at first. Religious meanings and symbols were the priority. Everything was for the god’s and what would come in their life. But from these practices of art, they created a style of their own.

Style in relation to art history, usually refers to a characteristic, or a number of characteristics that we can identify as constant, recurring, or distinct. In art, the sum of such characteristics can be associated with a particular artist, group, or culture, or with an artist’s work at a specific time. The culture of Egyptian art was to keep the process constant of the same kind of art. And as time passed, even if some characteristics changed, the main style recurred somehow. The Shabeti figures did that, and once studied upon more, most of Egyptian art will be styled in the same way, shape, and form.

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