There are several distinctive characteristics of Egyptian Art. This article will discuss Egyptian Art Characteristics: Dimensions, Colors, Symmetry, and Pharaohs. You will also find out how to recognize pieces that are Egyptian in origin. These characteristics help you decide which Egyptian art pieces to buy. But before we move to the characteristics, let’s have a look at some of the most important aspects of Egyptian Art. Read on to learn more. [*] Egyptian Art Characteristics
Table of Contents
Table of contents
Dimensions – Egyptian Art Characteristics
Ancient architectural monuments, paintings, sculptures, and applied crafts were all produced in Egypt’s Nile Valley. Egyptian Art reflected the importance of the ma’at, a concept that underpinned all of the culture and social order of Egypt. In this context, ma’at was considered the fabric of creation, which established the gods from undifferentiated chaos. Egyptian artists aspired to preserve the conventions and forms of creation and to illustrate the correct relationship between humans and nature.
While Egyptian Art is highly regarded and continues to be a popular draw for museums, it was never viewed by ancient Egyptians in the same way. Their Art would have appeared very strange if viewed in its current form. A specific reason often determined the placement of statues and other art objects, and the artist did not practice perspective. This means that Egyptian Art never showed emotion and was always two-dimensional.
Ancient Egyptian Art developed in three distinct periods. The Old Kingdom and the First Intermediate Period, which followed it, were characterized by regional visions. While no central government commissioned works, district governors sometimes requisitioned works reflecting their province. As a result, different districts had increased disposable income, and more artists produced works reflecting their own personal tastes. However, mass production also took place during this period, which resulted in an overall uniformity of artwork in a region.
Ancient Egyptians used the sunk relief technique to create monumental statues and smaller models. These sculptures often showed a person’s head and shoulders on the sunken surface, highlighting their contours through shadow. In the case of portraits, the head and legs of a person are usually shown from a side-on perspective. Some figurines showed the legs of the subject, as they did in the Tanagra style.
Colors – Egyptian Art Characteristics
The ancient Egyptians used cheap materials to create their masterpieces, but they highly valued color and its symbolic meaning. The word ‘iwen’ means color in Egyptian and can mean external appearance, being, or disposition. However, not all colors have symbolic meanings, and the Egyptians sometimes used a mix of different colors in one composition. For instance, rows of people alternating between dark and light shades may represent life, while chariot horses alternate between light and dark.
The colors used by Egyptians varied depending on the subject matter. In general, males were depicted with reddish-brown skin, but there were some variations in the color. For example, in some eras, the color of the skin of males was reddish-brown, while in others, a brown-red mixture was used. The reddish-brown color of males signified their outdoor lifestyles, while females tended to be painted with lighter skin shades.
Black was associated with death, but it also had positive associations. Black was also associated with fertility and the afterlife. In Egyptian Art, black is also often associated with the dying god Osiris, as the silt deposited by the Nile symbolizes fertility and regeneration. White, on the other hand, was used as a symbol of supremacy. Moreover, it represented the ground where all living beings must return after death.
Egyptian paintings often featured a variety of different colors, with red and blue being the two most common. However, there were also shades of orange and yellow. The Egyptians used these colors to express their character. Moreover, the early Egyptian written texts and artwork show the widespread use of the four main colors, including red. The Egyptian word for red is actually much closer to brown than the red we associate with red in Western Art. Egyptian tomb paintings also extensively used ground minerals in their compositions, mixing them with different colors to create rich and diverse palettes.
Symmetry – Egyptian Art Characteristics
In ancient Egyptian Art, symmetry and balance are fundamental themes. Egyptians believed their world was created in the image of the gods, so all artwork was created with symmetry and balance in mind. Symmetry in Egyptian Art was the foundation of the concept of duality and unity, as all Art was meant to express that idea. Interestingly, artworks of the ancient Egyptians depict both male and female figures. That’s because they believed they had divine reflections.
Egyptian Art dates back to the Predynastic Period (6000-3150 BCE). The Early Dynastic Period, 3150-3131 BCE, is the most famous period in Art. The Art of this period features many examples of symmetrical shapes, including cylinders, cubes, and elongated rectangles. The Art from this time period was also known as the “Narmer Palette,” which featured figures in an arranged, symmetrical manner.
Ancient Egyptians were well aware of the importance of symmetry in their artworks. Therefore, it’s no surprise that they were fascinated by symmetry. Hieroglyphics, for example, were often written with aesthetics in mind. In some instances, they even wrote sentences with opposite sides of the face to convey one emotion rather than another. This elevated knowledge of transient emotions is a key factor in the beauty of Egyptian Art.
While Egyptian symmetry was often used for religious purposes, there is no doubt that this concept was prevalent in the ancient world. Egyptian sculptures of the gods were known for their geometric forms and symmetry and are still one of the world’s greatest masterpieces. Many of these sculptures remain virtually unchanged today. The Great Pyramids are arguably the most famous examples of ancient Egyptian Art. The pyramids were a testament to Egyptian Art’s value.
Pharaohs – Egyptian Art Characteristics
Ancient Egyptians believed their spirits were immortal and would continue enjoying life after death. Therefore, pharaohs often buried themselves in massive pyramids to preserve their bodies. The pharaohs also built massive temples and painted reliefs to depict the stories of their power, wealth, military victories, and rise to godhood. As a result, the pharaohs’ tombs were often filled with lavish artifacts from their life.
While many people don’t consider the pharaohs to be patrons of Art, they were nevertheless regarded as necessary in Egyptian culture’s history. The pharaohs’ importance in Egyptian society was often represented through their Art, and as such, it is no surprise that they influenced the development of the style. Ancient Egyptians favored the use of the colors blue, red, green, and yellow, and they frequently portrayed pharaohs in their works. The dry climate in Egypt preserved these paintings for thousands of years. Small carved models were also often included inside tombs. These models could consist of enslaved people, animals, boats, buildings, and slaves.
While the pharaohs may not have been sculptors, they were patrons of Art. Throughout history, these mighty kings used elaborate architectural designs to display their wealth and power. Egyptian Art was created to endure the test of time and has left a lasting impact on today’s artistic society. It has shaped the basic premise of what Art is, so it is important to understand what made it so valuable to the ancient Egyptians.
The pharaoh’s regalia was also highly symbolic. Egyptian artworks represented the pharaoh’s power, which meant that he could control the world around him. As a result, the pharaoh regalia was often depicted wearing royal clothes. Among the other figures in ancient Egyptian Art were goddesses, gods, and animals. These objects reflected the ideal world of the gods.
Animals – Egyptian Art Characteristics
Although depictions of animals in Egyptian Art are well documented, less is known about the symbolic meaning of these creatures in ancient texts. Although we have plenty of evidence about snakes, scorpions, lions, crocodiles, and hippopotamus in tomb art, we know very little about the role of birds. Birds have been overlooked, making it difficult to decipher the historical significance of tomb biographies.
While many Egyptian animals appear in their natural poses, many are not in their most comfortable ones. Some animals have “intrusions” that suggest they exist outside the Nile Valley. The “intrusions” that entail in Egyptian Art may reflect the diversity of animal life beyond the Nile Valley. Regardless of the meaning, it’s a shame that we know little about the nature of Egyptian animals. And yet, we can still appreciate the beauty of these works of art.
The Egyptians considered certain animals to be gods. Some were even mummified and buried with great pomp. Egyptians believed that Khepri had the power to push the sun across the sky. This was why the ancient Egyptians gave animals such high status. As the gods of wisdom, they also revered the animals. As a result, Egyptians would often depict their beloved pets in mummy forms. Egyptologists have interpreted these mummies as divine offerings.
Monkeys were also popular in Egyptian Art. Monkeys are often depicted eating a bowl of fruit or onions. Other monkeys are shown grooming themselves or embracing their guardians. These are likely toys, but their appearance is often overlooked in other works. A few of these sculptures were found on the tomb walls. Moreover, they are often portrayed in their natural habitat, posing in poses that are highly unusual for the animal.