HIS 111-I1; K. Bradshaw
October 30, 2010
Although the Statue of Demedji and Hennutsen is a statue of a husband and wife, it is far from romantic as they stare straight ahead with each other’s arms barely touching. I wonder if the large disparity in size is attributable to an actual size difference in the man and woman or if it demonstrates a less important societal role the woman held compared to the man. It would seem unrealistic that the male could be twice as tall as the female, though if the man was standing erect in this piece, he would be. It is interesting that contrary to current Western custom, the man is sitting while the woman stands. The woman’s small belly protruding out is life like, but with the flattering proportions of her other body parts, perhaps having a slightly plump midsection was considered attractive in that culture. I think this piece might have been owned by the couple shown and created either for display in the couple’s home, or to be placed in their burial chamber, much like a portrait might be today.
The Sistrum Inscribed with the Names of King Teti is a fascinating piece. Both the falcon and the cobra are symbolic of tremendous strength. The many names of King Teti inscribed on the sistrum arouse curiosity of the commonality of multiple names being given an individual. It is amusing to note that decorating musical instruments has been a practice for many millennia. Today’s guitars and drums are colorful and adorned with pearl inlay though appearances have no effect on the sound they emit. Similarly, this sistrum is elaborately carved. It would be interesting to hear the type of music that Egyptians enjoyed, music that would welcome an accompaniment of the sound of shaking papyrus that this instrument produced. I wonder what the ceremonies were like where it was played, if they were celebratory or eerie and haunting. I could imagine multiple sistrums shaking out a slow crackling rhythm during some mystical flame-lit ceremony in a burial chamber.
The Cosmetic Vessel in the Shape of a Cat, as well as the Bowl with Human Feet and the Sistrum Inscribed with the Names of King Teti, demonstrates that Egyptian culture was not focused solely on functionality of objects. Conversely, they spent tangible and creative resources crafting objects that not only served a purpose, but also presented novelty or beauty to the beholder.