Representation of Deities in Art

For our curatorial project, we chose to pick pieces of art ranging in the years 1288 B.C. to 500 A.D. showing the visual representation of Gods shown through 5 different cultures.

This is a statue from ancient Egypt dated between 1288 BC-1222 BC. This statue depicts the Creator God, Ptah (on the right), holding King Ramses II’s hand, leading him forward (Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek). This notion is recognized as King Ramses II’s deification by Ptah-Tatenen. This statue was created by ancient Egyptians not for political reasons, but more as an acceptance offering. Egyptians viewed their king as a deity figure already; essentially using the statue as “a magic incantation invoking the god to accept the king as his son and the rightful ruler of Egypt” (Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek). One thing noticeable about this statue that is not in any of our other exhibits is that both Ptah-Tatenen and Ramses II are the same size. This conveys the message that they are both gods, or that they have the same level of power.
This depiction of Assyrian art was located on an interior wall of the palace of King Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud located in what is present day Iraq (The Walters). This is a carved piece of alabaster that originated in Calah which is also located in present day Iraq (The Walters). It was made between 883-859 BC. This piece is a depiction of a deity performing a ritual or ceremony (The Walters). The Assyrian rulers at this time used large pieces of art to decorate their palaces as a show of power and authority (Worcester). This figure is adorned with a horned cap, one of the signs of a deity, as well as a tunic and cape, not to mention, the wings do also suggest that this figure is not of this realm (Worcester). The text on the piece is an ancestory of the royal families as well as a history of the families achievements (Worcester).
The Attic Black-Figure Neck Amphora is a storage jar from Athens, Greece from around 510 B.C. and is attributed to the Leagros Group, which was active from 525-500 B.C. The medium used for this piece is terracotta, and the dimensions are 30.4 x 45.3 cm. This neck amphora is decorated with scenes from the mythological Trojan War. Shown on the front are Achilles and Ajax, who were two great heroes of the Greeks, as they sit playing some kind of board game. The goddess, Athena, stands in front of the game making some sort of gestures. Achilles and Ajax still have their armor and weapons ready, giving the sense that they are just taking a quick break from the battle. This particular scene of Ajax and Achilles playing a board game was very popular in Athenian vase-painting of the late 500s B.C. and was also a favorite of the painters in the Leagros Group. Some scholars believe that this mythological scene also served as a political parable on the value of staying alert and always staying on your toes, since Peisistratos had been able to take control of the city of Athens while the army was distracted
The statue of Jupiter belongs to the Ancient Rome period. It is one of the largest sculptures of Classical Antiquity. Jupiter is the King of the Gods in the Roman Empire. He is also the God of the sky and thunder. Its composition and style execution has similarity to the Classical Greek Period sculpture of Zeus that was made specifically for the temple of Zeus at Olimpia.
This piece of Mayan art is from the early classic Mayan Period (Princeton). It is constructed from limestone and was created between 300-500 AD in the Mayan region of what is present day Belize, Guatemala or Mexico (Princeton). It stands approximately 33 inches high by 14 inches wide and has a depth of about 3 inches, so it is just under 3 feet tall (Princeton). Slabs of limestone such as this were used to record and preserve dates by creating a story as well as follow seasons of the Mayan calendar (Princeton). This figure is Chahk or Chaac, the Mayan rain diety (Princeton). A breakthrough was made in understanding Mayan life, the Mayans are believed to depict their Rulers not their gods (Kleiner). The rulers do however advertise the power they have as a descendant of the gods which grants them a divine birth right to rule (Kleiner).
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