Timothy Stripling: Egyptian god and goddess FIGURINEs

The ancient Egyptian empire, around 3000 BC, developed a religious and political system that placed a god-king or Pharaoh in charge of the physical and spiritual wellbeing of the land and people (Davies, 2011). The Egyptians believed that the sculptures of the Pharaoh’s and gods were not simply representations, but rather the physical embodiments of each. The Statue of King Nakhthorheb kneeling in prayer is a common pose for kings to represent the eternal state of worship. The statues may have been used in the temples during a procession of gods (“Musée Du Louvre,” 2016). Physical representations were made for many occasions such as inaugural ceremonies, temple dedications, and burials (Davies, 2011). The Egyptians developed many techniques and art forms for these representations such as gold plating, faience, and bonze casting. Faience, which means gleaming or shining in Egyptian, was used in making jewelry, figurines, and amulets. It was thought that faience reflected the light of immortality. Faience was a glassy substance manufactured by the Egyptians, but first developed by the Mesopotamians. It was made by grinding quartz or sand crystal together with various amounts of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and copper oxide (Mark, 2010). The result was a material shapeable into any form desired. Once the desired object was shaped, it would be heated, hardening the pieces so that they developed a bright color that was finely glazed. It was thought that the Egyptians perfected faience to imitate turquoise and other rare gems and stones (Mark, 2010). One popular use of faience was in the creation of amulets and small figures for sacred burial rituals. An example of these small figures is the ushabtis; small figures resembling animals or gods, generally about thirty centimeters tall (Funerary objects, n.d.). Once this material became less expensive, people could afford a desired embalmment in hopes of being relieved of their worldly duties by placing an army of these small amulets in their coffins. These figures were believed to have magical powers in protecting its owners from such things as illness, infertility, and sickness. When being used in the coffins they were considered alter egos of the deceased individual that became the person in the afterlife. Hundreds of these figures were packed tightly into the coffins into teams of ten with one overseer (Funerary objects, n.d.). Quartzite was another material used by then Egyptians to make small figurines used as gifts and special occasions. Quartzite is a hard type of sandstone found in various places around Egypt, specifically in places such as Gebel Ahmar near Cairo. Quartzite was not often used as building material, though it does appear in the burial chamber at Hawwara in the 12th Dynasty. It is generally used in the carving of statues and sarcophagi (Quartzite, n.d.). The Egyptians believed in over 1500 gods that governed every aspect of life up until death and the hereafter (Davies, 2011). Their understanding of the gods shaped their view of the afterlife and the need to prepare for it. Some of their preparation came by carving amulets and statues to ward off evil spirits and guide their own spirit into the next world in hopes of a pleasant afterlife.

• Each Egyptian King was recognized and honored as an earthly manifestation of the god Horus • After death the pharaoh cease to be Horus, and rule the dead as Osiris • The double crown worn by the Pharaoh was a symbol of his rule
• The two gods, Horus of Pe and Horus of Nekhen, are known as the ‘Souls’ of Upper and Lower Egypt, and ancestor to the king. • The kneeling position with left arm raised is most likely part of a ritual dance. • The textured surface indicating once gold covering implies a possible donation by a wealthy individual.
• Hapy, is the personification of the River Nile, generally depicted with male and female qualities signifying fertility and earthly riches. • The offering table that the god hold is a reinforcement of all the abundance that the Nile brings. • The text on the side of the statue indicate that Sheshonq, King Osorkon I son’ dedicated this to his father
• The Bronze cast figure of the goddess Bastet is depicted with a cat’s head and a woman’s body. • She was revered for her fecundity and merriment; worshipped as the god of fertility, as well as festivity and intoxication shown by rattle. • She wore a broad collar bearing a lion goddess head wearing a sun disc, possibly alluding to her original manifestation.
• This amulet of Anubis dates to possibly the Ptolemaic Dynasty, 305-30 BCE • Figures made of materials like stone, glass or ceramic were common when making sacred gods and goddesses. • Amulets were believed to give supernatural powers protecting from such things as illness, evil forces and infertility. • Many times these figures were crafted with loops to be strung into a necklace to place on the dead.
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