Paige Logue: Ancient Egyptian Arts of the Most Important gods and goddesses

In my exhibition, the chosen focus is on the most important gods and goddesses of Ancient Egypt. The gods and goddesses chosen for the exhibition are very significant to the beliefs of the Ancient Egyptians. I chose to do my exhibition on the most important gods and goddesses of the Ancient Egyptian culture because it is important to know more about the gods and goddesses of a culture in order to better understand that culture’s foundation, and their beliefs.  Amun-Ra is the most important god of the Ancient Egyptian belief system. Amun-Ra is originally Amun, and then he is combined with Ra to be Amun-Ra in the Middle and New Kingdoms, and thus is the most supreme god in the culture (Davies 52). He, “is associated with the sun, creation, and fertility” (Davies 52). Isis is the most important goddess, she is the, “cosmic goddess, goddess of magic, and protector of the dead” (Davies 52). Hathor is considered the, “’Eye’ of Ra” (Davies 52). She is also, “goddess of the sky, of women, female sexuality, and mother hood, of foreign lands, of the afterlife, and of joy, music, and happiness, and cow-goddess” (Davies 52). Lastly, Osiris is, “one of Egypt’s chief deities” (Davies 52). He controls the underworld and is the deity of fertility, resurrection, as well as death (Davies 52). I find it very intriguing that the Ancient Egyptian’s have many gods and goddesses that are essential to their belief system while Christian’s only have one Almighty Lord. While God rules over all of His creation in Christianity, the Ancient Egyptian culture believed that there were many gods that ruled over different parts of life and different parts of the world.  I think that it is also interesting that not only do they have multiple gods and goddesses that rule over the same areas of life. We can see this with the connection of Amun-Ra and Osiris and their control over fertility. Isis and Hathor are also connected because Isis is the protector of the dead and Hathor is the goddess of the afterlife. Like Christ for Christians, these gods and goddesses were sacred and were worshiped by the Ancient Egyptians, and the people of that culture often turned to their gods for comfort. These Ancient Egyptian religious relics are similar to the relics in Christian culture because they depict the god mostly in their human form which is similar to how the Christian relics of Christ depict Him. In addition to the sculptures of the important gods and goddesses of the Ancient Egyptian culture, I also included a sculpture of a Solar Barque of Djedhor which was often used in special events or religious formalities. These gods and goddesses were the basis of all life, and the presence of religion affected all parts of Ancient Egyptian culture, and the lives of all of the Egyptian people. Aside from Amun-Ra, the importance of the remaining gods and goddesses is dependent upon circumstance. A god’s importance can be determined by their relationships to one another, and is also dependent on which god or goddess came about first.

 

Works Cited

 

Davies, Penelope J. E., et al. Janson’s History of Art: The Western Tradition, Volume I. 8th ed. New York: Pearson, 2011. E-book.

Artist: Unknown Title: Gilded Silver Statuette of Amun-Re Date: 26th Dynasty Country: Thebes, Egypt Size: Height- 24cm, Width- 6 cm, Weight- .7 kilograms Amun-Ra is the most important god in the eyes of the Ancient Egyptian culture. He is a combination of two and sometimes more gods. This combination of two or more gods creates a more powerful and important god in the Egyptian culture. Amun-Ra is a formation of Ra who was the “creator, king and father of the king” (Davies 52). Amun-Ra’s beard is a physical symbol that he is a god. Another physical aspect of Amun-Ra in this sculpture that represents him being a god is his crown. His crown represents his relationship with the sun, and thus shows that he is considered the sun god. The materials of any sculpture help depict the time that it was created in. In the case of this sculpture of Amun-Ra, “the use of silver and gold for this figure suggests that is was made as a cult statue”. Not only were all gods in the Ancient Egyptian culture depicted in a human form, but they were also often depicted as a certain animal as well. In the case of Amun-Ra, he was often depicted in animal form as a ram, and in human and animal form he was a human with a ram’s head. The Temple of Amun-Ra at Karnak “[symbolizes] the world at its inception” (Davies 67). This temple shows how authoritative and essential Amun-Ra was to the Ancient Egyptian religion. The decorations and carvings throughout the temple were very significant to showing the overall influence of Amun-Ra. A big part of the decorations in the temple were created using the sunken relief technique. “The subject of the reliefs at Karnak was the king’s relationship with the gods” (Davies 68). It is interesting to know that although the temple is dedicated to the god Amun-Ra, the king has a large part in the decoration and the building of the temple. Works Cited: Davies, Penelope J. E., et al. Janson’s History of Art: The Western Tradition, Volume I. 8th ed. New York: Pearson, 2011. E-book. Google. Google Cultural Institute. Web. 17 Apr. 2016.
Artist: Unknown Title: Bust of Isis Date: 10 B.C-40 A.D Country: Egypt Size: Height- 10.87 cm, Width- 6 cm, Depth- 2.25 cm Isis is the most important goddess throughout the Ancient Egyptian culture and all of the religion in the area. Isis became such an important goddess that, “her cult spread throughout the Mediterranean world”. Isis is the mother of the king, Horus, and the wife of Osiris. Osiris is the ruler of the underworld and is linked with the king. Isis was typically represented as a woman who had horns and a sun-disk for a crown. In this statue Isis is wearing the crown of the goddesses. This particular terracotta statue of the most important goddess has her adorned with elaborate jewelry and an elaborate headdress. Although Isis eventually became the most important goddess in Ancient Egyptian culture, through the spread of her cult, there were not many temples that were dedicated solely to her. It wasn’t until, “several temples were dedicated to her in Alexandria, where she became the patroness of seafarers” that actual temples were built for her during her reign (“Isis”). It is interesting to know that, although Amun-Ra is the most important god of the Ancient Egyptian religion and Isis is the most important goddess, the two are not necessarily related. Isis’s name is the Greek name for throne (“Isis”). This is important to see that not only is Isis an important goddess, but when the Ancient Egyptians gave her that name, they wanted it to be a representation of her actions. Gods and goddesses in Ancient Egyptian culture were worshipped and valued for all walks of life. While her husband Osiris was the ruler of the underworld, Isis is the “cosmic goddess, goddess of magic, and protector of the dead” (Davies 52). Both Isis and Osiris are affiliated with the underworld and the dead, and it would be interesting to know if that connection was intentional or unintentional. Works Cited: Davies, Penelope J. E., et al. Janson’s History of Art: The Western Tradition, Volume I. 8th ed. New York: Pearson, 2011. E-book. Google. Google Cultural Institute. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. "Isis". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 09 May. 2016
Artist: Unknown Title: Bronze Arched Sistrum with Hathor Head Decoration Date: Late Period Country: Egypt Size: Length- 38.4 cm, Width- 8.1 cm Hathor is one of the important goddesses in Ancient Egyptian culture. She was viewed as the eye of Ra, who was the most important god when fused into Amun-Ra. This sistrum of Hathor was used throughout Ancient Egyptian culture. The sistrum is a type of rattle instrument used in various cultural events. “The instrument, carried in tomb and temple scenes, indicated devotion to Hathor, and symbolized adoration in general” (Google). The more specific cultural events that this specific sistrum, or other similar sistrums, would be regularly played in are Ancient Egyptian festivals. The goddess Hathor was depicted as a woman with horns like a cow and a sun-disk. In animal form, Hathor was depicted solely as a cow. According to Davies, Hathor was “goddess of the sky, of women, female sexuality, and motherhood, of foreign lands, of the afterlife, and of joy, music, and happiness, and cow-goddess” (52). It is also interesting to see that like Isis, Hathor became very popular and eventually a cult was established in her honor. Hathor was so widely respected that “in the Late Period (1st millennium bce), women aspired to be assimilated with Hathor in the next world, as men aspired to become Osiris” (“Hathor”). Although many ancient cultures varied in their religions and the way they viewed their gods, some of the gods from each religion often have similar qualities or traits. For example, “the Greeks identified Hathor with their Aphrodite” (“Hathor”). Based on that statement, it opens our eyes to see that Aphrodite and Hathor are indeed very similar on the fact that both are goddesses of female sexuality and motherhood. Other than Hathor and Aphrodite being very similar, it would be interesting to see what other gods or goddesses are linked depending on what aspect of human life they are appointed to. Works Cited: Davies, Penelope J. E., et al. Janson’s History of Art: The Western Tradition, Volume I. 8th ed. New York: Pearson, 2011. E-book. Google. Google Cultural Institute. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. "Hathor". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 09 May. 2016
Artist: Unknown Title: Votive Statue of Osiris Date: Late Period, 380-343 B.C Country: Thebes, Egypt Size: Height- 105 cm, Length- 25 cm, Width- 24.5 cm Osiris is another one of the important gods in the Ancient Egyptian culture. As mentioned before, Osiris is the husband of Isis. Isis is the goddess who is the protector of the dead and the mother of Horus. Osiris is the “ruler of the underworld, god of death, resurrection, and fertility, and associated with the king” (Davies 52). This votive of Osiris is unique because during the Late Period the demand for votive statues went up due to them being offered to the gods. As like all of the other gods and goddesses, Osiris is depicted both in human form and also an alternate form, in this case a mummy. He is depicted by either a white or black mummy and he also wears the crown of Upper Egypt. Osiris is depicted as a mummy because he is the ruler or god of the underworld. It is interesting to see that although Osiris was the ruler of the underworld and god of death he was also the god of fertility. Not only is Isis Osiris’ wife, but she also plays a large role in his life. According to Davies, Osiris was “murdered and dismembered by his brother, Seth, he was reassembled by his consort Isis and sister Nepthys, and brought back to life” (52). This information, as well as knowing that he is the god of the underworld and god of death, allows us to see the connection as to why Osiris is represented by either a black or white mummy. Another god that is associated with fertility is the most significant god, Amun-Ra. It would be interesting to see if both Osiris and Amun-Ra have another affiliation due to the fact that Amun-Ra is also the god of creation, while Osiris is the god of death which technically makes them complete opposites. Works Cited: Davies, Penelope J. E., et al. Janson’s History of Art: The Western Tradition, Volume I. 8th ed. New York: Pearson, 2011. E-book. Google. Google Cultural Institute. Web. 17 Apr. 2016.
Artist:Unknown Title:Solar Barque of Dejedhor Date:Late Period, 380-343 B.C Country:Egypt Size:Height- 31.3 cm, Width-26.3 cm The last piece of artwork included in my exhibition of The Most Important Gods and Goddesses is the Barque of Djednor. The barque was created in the Late Period around 380 BC in Egypt. In this particular piece, “the barque is dedicated to Djednor for whom the protection of the gods is being invoked” (Google). It is interesting to know that the barque “was used in religious processions and ceremonies” (Google). In order to paint a better picture of what the barque is or what it was used for, we learn that the barque is also very similar to an ancient watercraft that went down the Nile river during Ancient Egyptian history. Not only is the barque dedicated to Djednor, the god needing protection, but it also includes carvings or sculptures of other gods on the watercraft. In this particular Solar Barque of Djednor, other gods are represented such as Amun-Ra and Isis who are the most important god and goddesses in the culture. Amun-Ra is the god who is associated with creation, sun, and fertility while Isis is the goddess who is the protector of the dead, cosmic goddess, and goddess of magic. Although the most important god and the most important goddess are the other gods depicted on this solar barque, on other barques there are often a variety of gods depicted. Works Cited: Davies, Penelope J. E., et al. Janson’s History of Art: The Western Tradition, Volume I. 8th ed. New York: Pearson, 2011. E-book. Google. Google Cultural Institute. Web. 17 Apr. 2016.
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