Elements of ancient Egyptian art

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By aaron

These are some elements of ancient Egyptian art.

Straight lines

Ancient Egyptian art was usually arranged in straight parallel lines called registers. Registers were a way to show status. People of higher status were placed in higher registers.

Clear message

Because most ancient Egyptian art was made with the purpose of celebrating gods and pharaohs, the message of the art was very clear. Whereas later art was often vague and open to interpretation, the ancient Egyptians often made art to send a clear message of praise to their gods or pharaoh.

The focus on message is also why Egyptian art often showed odd angles. For example, a person might be shown with their whole body facing forward while their head is turned to the side. This was to show the important features of the person while working within the constraints of stone carvings.

Using proportions to signify importance

It was common to use size to indicate importance. The most important people like the Pharaoh were larger than other people like servants.

With this in mind, it is noteworthy that the Pharaoh was often shown to be the same size as gods, which is indicative of how important the Pharaoh was considered to be.

Formal frontality

For a statue, formal frontality means the statue is facing straight ahead facing the viewer. Egyptian statues usually exhibited formal frontality because they were often placed in the tombs of Pharaohs to observe the Pharaoh in the afterlife.

Limited detail

Large statues from ancient Egypt were usually made of stone. Remember, big trees and large pieces of wood were hard to get in the middle of the desert, so wood carvings were limited to smaller works of art. The stone made it difficult to provide much detail in small sculptures, so they tend to lack detail. For example, people are often shown with their arms and legs in simple positions that were easier to carve.

Wood carvings do exist, but most were not preserved as well as the stone sculptures. However, the wood carvings that survived often do show more detail than the stone sculptures.

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