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Egyptian iconography
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Went to the MFA with issendai a while ago, and found some interesting stuff. Pictures were taken, largely in the Egyptian section.

Here's a roman head that Issendai thought would make a good game design for a monster.



They had several tomb walls, often depicting aspects of everyday life. Planting, harvesting, tax-collecting. Or, in one case, bull-breeding. (Offering Chapel of Sekhem-ankh-Ptah, Late Dynasty 5, about 2450-2350 B.C.)



The last time I was here, I had just read _Understanding Comics_, so was really interested in the comic-book-ish iconography. *This* time, I had a camera. (I apologize for not getting down the dates on all of these...)

First up, let's see how they represent pouring water. Here's a detail from the coffin of Menkabu (First Intermediate Period), showing poured water as a series of bubbles.



But here's one where, though the pouring vessels are actually the same, the depiction of the water is now wavy lines. (Painted Funerary Shroud of Ta-sherit-wedja-Hor, Roman Period, late 2nd century A.D.)



Detail:


Detail:


How about steam rising from a hot meal? One way to show it is as a solid wavy line. (Coffins of Princess Henettaway)



Another way is as several thin lines. (Wall relief of Wenef-djed-sen)



Detail:


Detail:


And yet another way is with a line made up of small dots. Sadly, the picture for this was too out of focus to show the detail -- will try to get a better one next time. It was from the Coffin of Hapi-Men, 380-30 B.C. But from that same coffin, we *did* get one good shot of a very cool operating table that Anubis had, in the shape of some sort of beast (lion?).



One puzzlement I had was with a recurring image that kept showing up on tomb walls, often (though not always) over the "fake doors". I didn't take any pictures at the MFA, since it was so ubiquitious, but here's one I found with just a few minutes of web searching. (Ka aper with Funerary Offerings, 2465-20 B.C.; Old Kingdom, early Dynasty 5)



The seated figure always is in front of a table that has those long thingies on top of it. They are almost always curved at the top like that, with an equal amount of left-curves and right-curves, though there are many possible arrangements of the lefts and rights. So what exactly *are* those long upright thingies?

One exhibit caption suggested that they were offerings of bread, but that seemed implausible at first, given their shape. But then, later, Issendai pointed out that there were some depictions of what looked like, of all things, bagels. (Sorry, didn't take down the source info on this one at all.)



Notice how the one in the middle looks different, elongated. Is it actually a different shape, or was this perhaps an attempt to show perspective (something these artists were notoriously bad at)?

Let's take another look at the steam picture from above.



It's got two bowls of hot something or other near the top, flanked by some triangular thingies. In the middle, there's what appears to be a leg of beef (plus something I can't identify over to the right). And at the bottom, more of these round and/or oval bread shapes. The table arrangement seems like it had some primitive attempts to show perspective, but that those tendencies are being rechanneled into a more abstract and stylized representation of reality.

So, what would you get if you took a largish, flattish loaf of bread, cut it in half, and propped the two halves up vertically. If you looked at it *exactly* from on edge, it might look a lot like the ever-present upright thingies that we kept seeing.

Now I wish I'd gotten more date info, so I had some idea of whether the 'bagel' depictions came before or after the stylized uprights...

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