Week 3 Blog: Jackie Hirai

This week we read chapter 5 and 6. King Tut was discussed in the online lecture. I found the discovery of King Tut to be very interesting. I remember visiting the Seattle Pacific Science Center when they had a King Tut exhibit. I don’t have the best memory, so I forgot majority of the facts about him that I learned in the past. Reading in the textbook about how much of a problem robbery was in Egypt, it is crazy how his tomb was untouched and fully intact. He was the son of Akhenatan and Akhenatan’s sister, which could be part of the reason for his early death. He died at 18 or 19-years-old. He had problems with his operating one of his feet. I did not know that the main reason for his death was an infection in his broken leg. The story of King Tut is so fascinating.

320px-Narmer_Palette.jpg

The artwork I chose to analyze is the “Palette of Narmer” from Hierakonpolis (c. 3100 BC) in Egyptian Museum, Cairo. It was found during an excavation during 1897-1898. James Quibell and Frederick Green discovered the artifact in 1898. It was with items used for rituals in a temple. Usually palettes where used to prepare eye makeup. It is made of schist and 64 cm tall. It helped people to identify Menes who is considered the first pharaoh of Egypt. There are two sides to this palette. The one on the left is called the Upper Egypt side due to the white crown the Narmer has on and the back side it has the pharaoh with the red crown, which is called the Lower Egypt side.
Upper Egypt Side:

The large male figure in the of the Upper Egypt side is King Narmer (representing King Menes). His size and placement in the center of the palette is to represent how important he is. His legs are facing a different direction then his upper body. He is wearing a kilt and white crown. The color of his crown is believed to represent Upper Egypt. He has an arm raised above one of his enemies looking like he is about to strike while the other is holding the hair, which could be seen as a symbol of authority. It is a classic sign of superiority and may be one of the first to use it in an image. The enemy is naked and compared to the king, the enemy appears to be barbaric. Below them, there are a couple naked enemies he has already killed. Their position of their arms is to maybe symbolize that they fallen enemies.

There is one of the his servants behind who is small in comparison to him show how great the he is. The servant has sandals in his hands to symbolize the holiness of the floor the king is standing on or that the scene is showing some sort of ritual. There is a bird in the upper right hand corner. It is the falcon god called Horus. The object the god is on has six what appear to be papyrus plants. The falcon is holding a piece of rope or branch with its human arm emerging the object out of the marsh. People believe this could be a symbol of Lower Egypt. They represent Lower Egypt, showing how King Narmer is the ruler over Upper Egypt.

Lower Egypt Side:

On this side, King Narmer is wearing his red crown to represent Lower Egypt. The king has a weapon like an ax of some sort. There is a servant with sandals just like on the Upper Egypt side to represent holiness or part of a ritual. The top right corner has ten beheaded enemies stacked on top of one another with their heads in the middle of their lower limbs. The curve of the crown of the king hint at how he was able to cut their heads off. The angles used show the Egyptians artistic choices used when they designed their hieroglyphs.

To the left of them there is a figure that could be a priest with four other figures. There is a falcon and ship in the top right corner. The men trying to control the cats (serpopards) in the center of the palette with their necks twisted into each other’s could represent how King Narmer brought together Egypt. The lower surface area made by the lion’s necks is thought of a possible place, “where a cosmetic would be put if this were not a ceremonial palette” (Kinnaer, 2017). The bull on the bottom of the palette could represent the king himself in bull form defeated an enemy or crushing the walls of his enemies cities.

Both:

At the top of both sides of the palette, there are two squares. They are called serekh, which, “contained a king’s name in hieroglyphs and was a flattened representation of the royal palace” (Adams, 2011, pg. 50). Next to these serekh are two cow heads, which are supposed to the goddess Bat or Hathor. They protect the king. Some believe they could be bulls and represent the strength of the king.

The main idea throughout these palette is to show how strong of a leader King Narmer is. He was able to defeat his enemies in multiple ways. The scenes on the palette show some of the ways he conquered. People have been lead to think that the two colored crowns symbolize a single ruler, King Narmer’s, ability to bring Upper and Lower Egypt together, but some doubt this idea. Others believe it could just be showing different ceremonial aspects. There has been thoughts developing that it could be representing a, “careful balance of order and chaos that was a fundamental element of the Egyptian idea of the cosmos or to the daily journey of the sun god” (Palette of King Narmer, n.d.). This artifact has helped people learn more about Egyptian culture and how they have shaped our current day ideas about art.

 

Source:

Adams, L. S. (2011). A History of Western Art (5th Edition ed.). New York , New York: McGraw Hill.

Kinnaer, J. (2017). The Ancient Egypt Site. Retrieved from http://www.ancient-egypt.org/history/early-dynastic-period/1st-dynasty/horus-narmer/narmer-artefacts/narmer-palette.html

Palette of King Narmer. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-art-history/ancient-mediterranean-ap/ancient-egypt-ap/a/palette-of-king-narme

6 thoughts on “Week 3 Blog: Jackie Hirai”

  1. I think this palette is so beautiful and I would love to have my make-up made from it! The Egyptians really seemed to revere their leaders and it is evident that they wanted them as the focal point of all of their art. I also found King Tut really interesting and he seemed almost like a scandal. He was the result of incest, and I wonder if that would have been a problem with him ruling. I wonder if the people would have cared? Egypt wasn’t a democracy, but I’m sure the people could revolt and protest to a certain extent. Anyway, you had a really great analysis!

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    1. I would love to have my make-up in it too! That would be so cool! I was wondering about how incest would effect his status as well. I feel like it would have been seen as normal and that his health problems were a result of something else. I am not sure if they would have cared about incest, but I have a feeling they would maybe judge a person more for having problems with their health. Thank you!

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  2. I also found the discussion on King Tut very interesting. I think it’s amazing that his tomb was not robbed, considering how important he was. I think it’s so interesting how these scenes of violence are considered great and show the superiority of the leader back then. Now, there are many controversies on war and the degree of violence employed to POWs. There is a drastic shift away from violence and more towards humane treatments. There are even regulations on what types of weapons (gas warfare) are allowed during war.

    I noticed that the sandal bearer is on both sides. I haven’t looked much into it, but do you think that the killing of enemies is part of a ritual killing/sacrifice?

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    1. It is so crazy how nothing was untouched! That is a very good point about how violence is not seen the same way it was back then. They used to praise people for their ability to fight. We live in such a different time now. It is very eye-opening to see how far we have come since then. I did some research about the sandal bearer. There wasn’t a clear idea of why it is on both sides. I was on the same wavelength as you thinking it was representing how killing enemies was part of a ritual. I think it is a possibility.

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  3. It’s so cool how you were able to relate this directly to an experience you had. I grew up in Seattle and remember when that exhibit was being toured! I’m with you, don’t remember much, but knew it was importnat. It’s crazy how a history class with an art focus is what’s teaching us that! When I looked more into King Tut, I found a lot of theories on his death–thought I’d share one for laughs, but it’s thought that the cause of death was a hippopotamus attack!

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  4. Very interesting post! I like how you took time to not only describe both sides of the palette in detail, but to also look at the commonality between them, and what they say as a whole rather than individually. Really good analysis.
    Also, King Tut is cool! I remember learning about him way back in middle school. I was always fascinated by the amount of detail that has been discovered about his life. It makes me wonder how researchers can glean so much information from so actual physical evidence.
    Good job!

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