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Title: The Arts and Crafts of Ancient Egypt
Author: Petrie, W. M. Flinders (William Matthew Flinders)
Language: English
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The Arts and Crafts of the Nations

GENERAL EDITOR: S. H. F. CAPENNY

THE ARTS AND CRAFTS OF ANCIENT EGYPT



[Illustration: OLD KINGDOM RELIEF

55. Wood-carving of Ra-hesy]



                                  THE
                             ARTS & CRAFTS
                           OF ANCIENT EGYPT

                                  BY
                         W. M. FLINDERS PETRIE
              D.C.L., F.R.S., F.B.A., ETC., PROFESSOR OF
                   EGYPTOLOGY IN LONDON UNIVERSITY;
                 AUTHOR OF “A HISTORY OF EGYPT,” ETC.

                              CONTAINING
                  ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY ILLUSTRATIONS

                            _SECOND EDITION
                       WITH ADDITIONAL CHAPTER_

                             T. N. FOULIS
                          LONDON & EDINBURGH
                                 1910

                    _First Edition, November 1909_
                    _Second Edition, October 1910_

               PRINTED BY NEILL AND CO., LTD., EDINBURGH



PREFACE


This present handbook is intended to aid in the understanding of
Egyptian art, and the illustrations and descriptions are selected for
that purpose only. The history of the art would require a far greater
range of examples, in order to illustrate the growth and decay of each
of the great periods; whereas here only the most striking works of each
period are shown, in order to contrast the different civilisations. The
origins and connections of the art in each age are scarcely touched,
and the technical details are only such as are needed to see the
conditions of the art. The archaeology of the subject would need as
wide a treatment as the history, and these subjects can only appear
here incidentally.

It should be noticed that the divisions of artistic periods are often
not the same as those of political history. Politically, the history
divides at the XVIIth dynasty with the fall of the Hyksos, and at the
XXIInd dynasty with the rise of the Delta government. But artistically
the changes are under Tahutmes I, when Syrian influences broke in, and
under the XXVIth dynasty, when the classical Greeks began to dominate
the art.

The effect of foreign influence in art is quite apart from political
power; it is due to rival activities which may or may not mean a
physical domination. The reader should ponder different cases, such
as those of the spiral design of early Europe entering Egypt, of the
Syrian and Cretan art in the XVIIIth dynasty, of the effect of Persia
upon Greece, and of Greece upon Italy (both through Magna Graecia
and the conquest of Greece), of the effect of the Goth, Lombard, and
Northman on Europe, and of Japan on modern Europe. Some reflection on
these great artistic movements will give a little insight as to the
history of art.

Regarding the illustrations, I have thought it more useful to give
details large enough to be clearly seen, rather than to contract too
much surface into a space where it cannot well be studied. Portions of
subjects are therefore often preferred to general views of a whole. The
outlines of artistic value, such as contours of faces or figures, are
left quite untouched, as an outline cannot be taken seriously which is
dependent on the block-maker clearing a white or black ground. This
latter treatment, unfortunately, puts out of artistic use many of the
lavishly spaced plates of the Cairo Catalogue, where art is subjected
to bibliophily. The liberal policy of all publications and photographs
of the Cairo Museum being free of copyright, has enabled me to use many
of the excellent untouched photographs of Brugsch Pasha and others.
My best thanks are due to Freiherr von Bissing and the publisher of
his _Denkmaeler Aegypt. Sculptur_, for permission to use figures 39,
44, 46, 48, 62, 111, and 112 from that work. Over a third of the
illustrations here are from my own photographs not yet published, and
principally taken for this volume.

W. M. F. P.



PERIODS AND KINGS REFERRED TO IN THIS VOLUME


    Period.      Dynasty.          Names.                  B.C.

    Prehistoric.                                         8000-5500
    Early        {     I. Narmer, Mena, Zer,             5500-5400
    kings.       {    II. Kha-sekhem,                      5000
                 {   III. Zeser, Senoferu,               4900-4700

    Pyramid      {    IV. Khufu, Khafra, Menkaura,       4700-4500
    age: Old     {     V. Nofer-ar-ka-ra, Unas,          4400-4200
    Kingdom.     {    VI. Pepy II,                       4100-4000
                      IX. Khety,                           3800

                 {    XI. Antef V,                         3500
    Middle       {   XII. Senusert I, Senusert II,       3400-3300
    Kingdom.     {         Senusert III,
                 {        Amenemhat III,                 3300-3259
                 {  XIII. Hor,                             3200

    New          { XVIII. Aahmes, Queens Aah-hotep,      1587-1562
    Kingdom.     {         Aahmes,
                 {        Tahutmes I, Tahutmes II,       1541-1481
                 {         Hatshepsut
                 {        Tahutmes III, Amenhotep II,    1481-1414
                 {         Tahutmes IV,
                 {        Amenhotep III, Akhenaten,      1414-1344
                 {         Tut-ankh-amen,
                 {   XIX. Sety I, Ramessu II, Merenptah, 1326-1214
                 {        Sety II, Tausert,              1214-1203
                 {    XX. Ramessu III, IV, XII,          1202-1129
                     XXI. Isiemkheb,                        1050
                    XXII. Shishak kings,                  952-749
                   XXIII. Pedubast, Pefaabast,            755-725
    Ethiopian.       XXV. Amenardys, Taharqa, Tanut-amen, 720-664
    Saite.          XXVI. Aahmes II,                      570-526
                     XXX. Nekhthorheb (Nectanebo),        378-361
    Ptolemies.            Cleopatra Cocce,                130-106
    Romans.                                              30-A.D. 640



CONTENTS


    CHAP.                                                    PAGE

    1. THE CHARACTER OF EGYPTIAN ART                            1

    2. THE PERIODS AND SCHOOLS                                 11

    3. THE STATUARY                                            29

    4. THE RELIEFS                                             48

    5. THE PAINTING AND DRAWING                                55

    6. THE ARCHITECTURE                                        62

    7. THE STONE-WORKING                                       69

    8. JEWELLERY                                               83

    9.  METAL WORK                                             98

    10. GLAZED WARE AND GLASS                                 107

    11. THE POTTERY                                           126

    12. IVORY-WORKING                                         134

    13. WOODWORK                                              137

    14. PLASTER AND STUCCO                                    142

    15. CLOTHING                                              147

    16. EGYPT’S PLACE IN THE ART OF THE WORLD                 152

    INDEX                                                     159

    BIBLIOGRAPHY                                              166



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  Fig. Dynasty. Subject.            Material.    Source.   Position. Page.

  _Scenery._

  1    XVIII    Temple below        Limestone    Deir el   Thebes.       4
                cliffs.                          Bahri.

  2    …        Palms and canal.      …          Illahun.  Fayum.        ”

  _Periods._

  3    Prehist. Dog and deer.       Ivory.          ?      Petrie Coll. 13

  4     ”       Bull and enemy.     Slate.          ?      Louvre.       ”

  5    IV       Servant of Ainofer. Limestone.   Saqqareh. Cairo Mus.    ”

  6    XII      Senusert I.             ”        Memphis.  Carlsberg M.  ”

  7    XVIII    Servant of              ”        Tomb.     Thebes.      19
                Kha-em-hat.

  8    XIX      Sons of Ramessu II. Sandstone.   Luqsor.     ”           ”

  9    XXVI     Aahmes-si-          Limestone.   Memphis.  Cambridge.    ”
                neit-rannu.

  10   Ptolem.  Cleopatra Cocce.    Sandstone.      ”      Kom Ombo.     ”

  _Schools._

  11   XIX      Ramessu II.         Black        Eastern   Turin.       24
                                    granite.     desert.

  12    ”           ”               Hard         Memphis.  Memphis.      ”
                                    limestone.

  13    ”           ”               Red granite. Aswan.    Thebes.       ”

  14    ”           ”               Sandstone.   Nubia.    Abu Simbel.   ”


  _Sculpture._

  15   Prehist. Female figure.      Ivory.         ?       Petrie Coll. 30

  16    ”          ”      ”         Limestone.   Naqadeh.  Oxford Mus.   ”

  17    ”       Male heads.         Ivory.         ?       Petrie Coll.  ”

  18    ”       Lion.               Limestone.     ?         ”           ”

  19,  I        Narmer? head;           ”          ?         ”          32
  20            sculptor’s study.

  21   I        King standing.      Ivory.       Abydos.    British      ”
                                                            Mus.

  22   II       Head of Kha-sekhem. Limestone.   Hierakon-  Oxford Mus.  ”
                                                 polis.

  23   III      Head of Mertitefs.   ”             ?        Leyden Mus. 33

  24    ”       Head of Nofert.      ”           Medum.     Cairo Mus.   ”

  25   IV       Head of Ka-aper.    Wood.        Saqqareh.    ”          ”

  26    ”       Female figure.      Wood.          ”          ”          ”

  27    ”       Khafra.             Diorite.     Gizeh.       ”         34

  28    ”       Head of Khafra.     Cast.          ”          ”          ”

  29   V        Scribe seated.      Limestone.   Saqqareh.  Louvre.     35

  30    ”       Family of Khui.       ”            ”        Cairo Mus.   ”

  31    ”       Ranofer.              ”            ”          ”          ”

  32   XII      Head of Senusert I.   ”          Lisht.       ”         39

  33    ”          ”    Senusert    Red          Karnak.      ”          ”
                        III.        granite.

  34    ?          ”    Sphinx.     Black        Tanis.       ”          ”
                                    granite.

  35   XII         ”    Amenemhat   Grey           ?       Univ. Coll.,  ”
                        III.        granite.               Lond.

  36   XVIII       ”    statue.     Quartzite.   Thebes.   Cairo Mus.   42

  37    ”          ”    Tahutmes    Basalt.      Karnak.     ”           ”
                        III.

  38    ”          ”    Tut-ankh-   Grey           ”         ”           ”
                        amen.       granite.

  39    ”          ”    Akhenaten.  Limestone.   Thebes.   Louvre.       ”

  40    ”       Young negress.      Ebony.         ?       Petrie Coll. 43

  41    ”       Girl on tray        Wood.          ?       Louvre.       ”
                handle.

  42    ”       Girl playing lute.    ”          Sedment.  Univ. Coll.,  ”
                                                            Lond.

  43   XIX      Head of Ramessu II. Black        Thebes.   Turin Mus.   44
                                    granite.

  44    ”         ”     Bak-en-     Hard           ”       Munich Mus.   ”
                        khonsu.     limestone.

  45    ”         ”     Merenptah.  Black          ”       Cairo Mus.    ”
                                    granite.

  46   XXV        ”     Taharqa.    Black          ”         ”           ”
                                    granite.

  47    ”         ”     Amenardys.  Alabaster.     ”         ”          46

  48    ”         ”     Mentu-em-   Black        Karnak.     ”           ”
                        hat.        granite.

  49   XXX        ”     man (cast). Basalt.      Memphis.  Berlin Mus.   ”

  50   Ptol.      ”     woman       Wood.          ?         ”           ”
                        (coffin).

  _Reliefs._

  51   Prehist. Hyaena and calf.    Limestone.   Koptos.   Cairo Mus.   48

  52   Prehist. Gazelles and palms. Slate.         ?       Oxford and    ”
                                                           Louvre.

  53    ”       Group of animals.     ”          Hierakon- Oxford Mus.   ”
                                                 polis.

  54    ”       Narmer and enemy.     ”          Hierakon- Cairo Mus.    ”
                                                 polis.

  55   III      Ra-hesy, half       Wood.        Saqqareh.   ”    _Front._
                length.

  56   V        Sacrificing bull.   Limestone.   Ty tomb.  Saqqareh.    51

  57    ”       Oxherd.                ”         Ptah-hotep  ”           ”
                                                 tomb.

  58   XI       Toilet of princess.    ”         Deir el   Cairo Mus.   52
                                                 Bahri.

  59   XII      Heads of Ptah and      ”         Karnak.     ”           ”
                Senusert I.

  60   XVIII    Hatshepsut.            ”         Deir el   Thebes.      53
                                                 Bahri.

  61    ”       Servant of Kha-em-hat. ”         Tomb.       ”           ”

  62    ”       Akhenaten and queen.   ”           ?       Berlin Mus.   ”

  63   XX       Bulls in marsh.     Sandstone.   Medinet,  Thebes.      54
                                                 Habu.

  64   XXVI     Youths and girls    Limestone.   Memphis.  Cairo Mus.    ”
                with animals.

  _Paintings._

  65  Prehist.  Men fighting, vase. Pottery.       ?       Petrie Coll. 56

  66    ”       Ship, vase.            ”           ?       Cairo Mus.    ”

  67    ”       Ship, tomb.         Fresco.      Hierakon-   ”           ”
                                                 polis.

  68   III      Geese walking.         ”         Medum.      ”           ”

  69   XVIII    Pelicans and keeper.   ”         Horemheb  Thebes.      57
                                                 tomb.

  70    ”       Gleaning girls.        ”         Menna       ”           ”
                                                 tomb.

  71    ”       Harvesters.            ”         Nekht       ”           ”
                                                 tomb.

  72    ”       Pattern in stages.     ”         Amenmes     ”          58
                                                 tomb.

  73    ”       Boating scene.         ”         Menna       ”           ”
                                                 tomb.

  74    ”       Guests and girl.       ”         Nekht       ”           ”
                                                 tomb.

  75    ”       Girl somersaulting. Limestone.   Thebes?   Turin Mus.   60

  76    ”       Young princesses.   Fresco.      Tell-el-  Oxford Mus.   ”
                                                 Amarna.

  77   XVIII    Man hauling rope.   Fresco.      Amenmes   Thebes.       ”
                                                 tomb.

  78    ”       Four races.         Rock wall.   Rames       ”           ”
                                                 tomb.

  79   XIX      Man adoring.        Limestone.   Thebes.   Cairo Mus.    ”

  80    ”       Sety I offering to  Rock pillar. Tomb of   Thebes.       ”
                Osiris.                          Sety I.

  _Architecture._

  81   IV       Temple of Khafra.   Red granite. Gizeh.      …          66

  82   XX          ”      Ramessu   Sandstone.   Medinet   Thebes.       ”
                 III.                            Habu.

  83   Ptolem.  Temple of Ergamenes.  ”          Dakkeh.   Nubia.        ”

  84   V        Palm column, Unas.  Red granite. Saqqareh. Cairo Mus.   67

  85    ”       Rose lotus capital. Limestone.     ”         ”           ”

  86    ”       Blue lotus capital.   ”          Abusir.     ”           ”

  _Stone working._

  87  Pre-XVIII Stone vases.        Various.     Various.    ”          78

  88   XVIII    Trial piece,        Limestone.   Thebes.   Petrie Coll.  ”
                king’s head.

  89    ?       Figure in first     Rock-crystal.  ?         ”           ”
                outlines.

  90   Ptolem.  Lion’s head in      Limestone.     ?         ”           ”
                outlines.

  91   XVIII?   Man’s head,           ”          Thebes.     ”           ”
                unfinished.

  92   Prehist. Flint knives, etc.  Chert.       Naqadeh,    ”          81
                                                 etc.

  _Jewellery._

  93   I        Bracelets, gold,    Amethyst.    Tomb of   Cairo Mus.   87
                turquoise.                       Zer.

  94   VI       Chain.              Gold.        Mahasnah.   ”           ”

  95   ” ?      Seal with hawk        ”            ?       Petrie Coll.  ”
                heads.

  96   XII      Uraeus, wire work.    ”            ?         ”           ”

  97    ”       Pectoral of Senusert  ”          Dahshur.  Cairo Mus.   88
                II.

  98    ”         ”           ”       ”            ”         ”           ”
                III.

  99    ”       Inlaid crown of     Gold and       ”         ”          90
                Khnumt.             stones.

  100   ”       Floret   ”          Gold and       ”         ”           ”
                                    stones.

  101   ”       Granulated work.    Gold.          ”         ”           ”

  102  XVIII    Bracelet of Aahmes. Gold and     Thebes.     ”          92
                                    lazuli.

  103  XVIII    Dagger of Aahmes.   Gold and     Thebes.   Cairo Mus.    ”
                                    bronze.

  104   ”       Axe of Aahmes.      Gold and       ”         ”           ”
                                    bronze.

  105  XIX      Pectoral of         Gold and     Saqqareh. Louvre.      94
                Ramessu II.         stones.

  106  XX       Earrings of         Gold.        Abydos.   Cairo Mus.    ”
                Ramessu XII.

  107  XXV      Statuette of          ”          Ehnasya.  Boston Mus.   ”
                Hershefi.

  108  XXVI?    Bowls from temple.  Silver.      Mendes.   Cairo Mus.   96

  109  Rom.?    Chain fastening.    Gold.          ?       Petrie Coll.  ”

  _Metal-working._

  110  VI       Head of prince.     Copper.      Hierakon- Cairo Mus.  100
                                                 polis

  111  XXV?     Bust of Takushet.   Gold in        ?       Athens Mus.   ”
                                    bronze.

  112   ”         ”       ”  side.    ”            ?         ”           ”

  113  XVIII    Flask of sandal     Bronze.        ?      Petrie Coll. 101
                washer.

  114  XIX      Fluted vases.         ”          Abydos.   Cairo Mus.    ”

  115  XXII?    Anti-splash bowl.   Silver.      Bubastis. Petrie Coll.  ”

  _Glaze and Glass._

  116  I        Inlaid glazes       Green and    Abydos.   Brit. Mus.  108
                of Mena.            violet glaze.

  117  XX       Lotus and grape     Coloured    Yehudiyeh. Cairo Mus.    ”
                border.             glaze.

  118  XXVI     Head of Isis.       Blue glaze.    ?       Petrie Coll.  ”

  119   ”       Royal fan-bearer.     ”            ?         ”           ”

  120  XVIII    Dragged pattern     Coloured       ?      British Mus. 120
                vase.               glass.

  121   ”         ”       ”           ”            ?         ”           ”

  122  Ptol.    Coloured mosaics.   Glass.         ?       Petrie Coll.  ”

  _Ivory._

  123  IV       Khufu.              Ivory.       Abydos.   Cairo Mus.  136

  124  VI?      Girl standing.        ”            ?       Petrie Coll.  ”

  125  XXVI     Lotus flower.         ”          Memphis.  Edin. Mus.    ”

  126   ”       Man with offerings.   ”            ”         ”           ”

  _Wood._

  127  XVIII    Bracing of chair.   Wood.        Tomb of   Cairo Mus.  137
                                                 Yuaa.

  128   ”       Chair of Sitamen.     ”            ”         ”           ”

  129   ”       Coffer of           Wood           ”         ”           ”
                Amenhotep III.      inlaid.

  130   ”         ”   ”               ”            ”         ”           ”

  131   ”       Couch of Yuaa.      Wood.          ”         ”           ”

  _Plaster._

  132  XVIII    Reliefs on chariot. Stucco on    Tomb of   Cairo Mus.  144
                                    wood.        Tahutmes.

  133  Ptol.    Lion’s head,        Plaster.       ?       Petrie Coll.  ”
                casting.

  134   ”       King’s head, casting. ”            ?         ”           ”

  135  Roman.   Man’s head from       ”            ?         ”         146
                coffin.

  136   ”         ”            ”      ”          Kom el    Cairo Mus.    ”
                                                 Ahmar.

  137   ”       Woman’s head from     ”            ?       Petrie Coll.  ”
                coffin.

  138   ”       Man’s head and skull. ”          Hu.       British Mus.  ”

  _Clothing._

  139  XVIII    Woven patterns,     Thread.      Tomb of   Cairo Mus.  148
                Amenhotep II.                    Tahutmes IV.

  140   ”       Cut-out network.    Leather.       ”         ”           ”



Arts and Crafts of Ancient Egypt



CHAPTER I

THE CHARACTER OF EGYPTIAN ART


The art of a country, like the character of the inhabitants, belongs
to the nature of the land. The climate, the scenery, the contrasts of
each country, all clothe the artistic impulse as diversely as they
clothe the people themselves. A burly, florid Teuton in his furs and
jewellery, and a lithe brown Indian in his waist-cloth, would each
look entirely absurd in the other’s dress. There is no question of
which dress is intrinsically the best in the world; each is relatively
the best for its own conditions, and each is out of place in other
conditions. So it is with art: it is the expression of thought and
feeling in harmony with its own conditions. The only bad art is that
which is mechanical, where the impulse to give expression has decayed,
and it is reduced to mere copying of styles and motives which do
not belong to its actual conditions. An age of copying is the only
despicable age.

It is but a confusion of thought, therefore, to try to pit the art of
one country against that of another. A Corinthian temple, a Norman
church, or a Chinese pavilion are each perfect in their own conditions;
but if the temple is of Aberdeen granite, the church of Pacific island
coral, and the pavilion amid the Brighton downs, they are each of
them hopelessly wrong. To understand any art we must first begin by
grasping its conditions, and feeling the contrasts, the necessities,
the atmosphere, which underlie the whole terms of expression.

Now the essential conditions in Egypt are before all, an overwhelming
sunshine; next, the strongest of contrasts between a vast sterility of
desert and the most prolific verdure of the narrow plain; and thirdly,
the illimitable level lines of the cultivation, of the desert plateau,
and of the limestone strata, crossed by the vertical precipices on
either hand rising hundreds of feet without a break. In such conditions
the architecture of other lands would look weak or tawdry. But the
style of Egypt never fails in all its varieties and changes.

The brilliancy of light led to adopting an architecture of blank walls
without windows. The reflected light through open doorways was enough
to show most interiors; and for chambers far from the outer door, a
square opening about six inches each way in the roof, or a slit along
the wall a couple of inches high, let in sufficient light. The results
of this system were, that as the walls were not divided by structural
features, they were dominated by the scenes that were carved upon
them. The wall surface ceased to be regarded as part of a building,
and became an expansion of the papyrus or tablet. The Egyptian belief
in the magical value of representations led to the figuring of the
various parts of the worship on the walls of the temples or tombs, so
that the divine service should be perpetually renewed in figure; and
thus what we see is not so much a building in the ordinary sense, as
an illustrated service-book enclosing the centre of worship. Another
result of the fierce indirect light was that which dominated sculpture.
The reliefs, beautiful as they often were, would not be distinct in
the diffuse facing light; hence strong colouring was applied to render
them clear and effective. So much did colouring take the lead that the
finest sculptures were often smothered in a stucco facing, laid on to
receive the colour. This almost spiteful ignoring of the delicate craft
of the sculptor is seen in the XIIth dynasty, and was the ruling method
in Ptolemaic work.

The extreme contrast between the desert and the cultivation gave its
tone to the artistic sense of the people. On either hand, always in
sight, there rose the margin of the boundless waste without life or
verdure, the dreaded region of evil spirits and fierce beasts, the home
of the nomads that were always ready to swoop on unprotected fields and
cattle, if they did not sit down on the borders and eat up the country.
Between these two expanses of wilderness lay the narrow strip of
richest earth, black, wet, and fertile under the powerful sun; teeming
with the force of life, bearing the greenest of crops, as often in the
year as it could be watered. In parts may be seen three full crops
of corn or beans raised each year beneath the palms that also give
their annual burden of fruit; fourfold does the rich ground yield its
ever-growing stream of life.

[Illustration: SCENERY

1. The barren desert background

2. The luxuriance of the plain]

This exuberance amid absolute sterility is reflected in the proportion
between the minuteness of detail and the vastness of the architecture.
The most gigantic buildings may have their surfaces crowded with
delicate sculpture and minute colouring. What would be disproportionate
elsewhere, seems in harmony amid such natural contrasts.

The strongly marked horizontal and vertical lines of the scenery
condition the style of buildings that can be placed before such a
background. As the temples were approached, the dominant line was the
absolute level of the green plain of the Nile valley, without a rise
or slope upon it. Behind the building the sky line was the level top
of the desert plateau, only broken by an occasional valley, but with
never a peak rising above it. And the face of the cliffs that form the
stern setting is ruled across with level lines of strata, which rise
in a step-like background or a wall lined across as with courses of
masonry. The weathering of the cliffs breaks up the walls of rock into
vertical pillars with deep shadows between them. In the face of such
an overwhelming rectangular framing any architecture less massive and
square than that of Egypt would be hopelessly defeated. The pediments
of Greece, the circular arches of Rome, the pointed arches of England,
would all seem crushed by so stern a setting. The harmony is shown most
clearly in the temple of Deir el Bahri (fig. 1) below its cliffs which
overshadow it. Let any other kind of building be set there, and it
would be an impertinent intrusion; the long level lines of the terraces
and roofs, the vertical shadows of the colonnades, repose in perfect
harmony with the mass of Nature around them. The Egyptian was quite
familiar with the arch: he constantly used it in brickwork on a large
scale, and he imitated its curve in stone; yet he always hid it in
his building, and kept it away from the external forms, instinctively
knowing that it could not serve any part of his decorative construction.

These principles, which were thus imposed on the architecture of Egypt,
were doubly enforced upon its sculpture. Not only did Nature set the
framing of plain and cliff, but her work was reflected and reiterated
by the massive walls, square pillars, and flat architraves, amid which
Egyptian sculpture had to take its place. In such shrines it would be
disastrously incongruous to place a Victory poising on one foot, or a
dancing faun. They belong to the peaks of Greece, divided by rushing
streams, and clothed with woods,--to a transient world of fleeting
beauty, not to a landscape and an architecture of eternity. Egyptian
art, however luxurious, however playful it might be, was always
framed on a tacit groundwork of its natural conditions. Within those
conditions there was scope for most vivid portraiture, most beautiful
harmony, most delicate expression, but the Egyptian was wise enough
to know his conditions and to obey them. In that obedience lay his
greatness.

The truest analysis of art--that of Tolstoy--results in defining it as
a means of communicating emotion. It may be the emotion produced by
beauty or by loathsomeness; each expression is equally art, though each
is not equally desirable art. The emotion may be imparted by words, by
forms, by sounds; all are equally vehicles of different kinds of art.
But without imparting an emotional perception to the mind there is no
art. The emotion may be the highest, that of apprehending character,
and the innate meaning of mind and of Nature; or it may be the lower
form of sharing in the transient interests and excitements of others;
or the basest form of all, that of enjoying their evil. How does the
Egyptian appear under this analysis? What emotions can we consider were
intended by his art? How far did he succeed in imparting them to the
spectators?

To understand the mind of the artist we must look to those qualities
which in their literature were held up as the ideals of life.
Stability and Strength were the qualities most admired, and the name
for public monuments was “firm things.” Assuredly all mankind has
looked on the works of Egypt as giving a sense of these qualities
before all others. Closely connected is the sense of Endurance, which
was enjoined in words, and carried into practice in the laborious work
on the hardest rocks. It was for endurance that statues were made of
diorite or granite, though they were painted with life-like hues, so
that their material was scarcely seen. Upon these primary qualities
was built a rich and varied character, reflected in the elaborate and
beautiful sculpture which covered, but never interfered with, the grand
mass of a monument. Truth and Justice were qualities much sought for in
life, and were expressed by the artist in the reality of his immense
blocks of stone, often more hidden than seen, and in the fair and even
bearing of all material, without any tricks or paradoxes of structure.
In all his earlier work his monolith columns and pillars were a protest
that a structural unit must express unity, that what supports others
must not be in itself divided. The Discipline and Harmony which were
looked on as the bond of social life are shown by the subordination
of the whole, by the carrying out of single schemes of decoration
illustrating the use of every part of a building on all its walls,
by the balance of the proportions of the whole so that there seems a
perfect fitness of connection through all parts. And the happy union
of vigorous Action with prudent Reserve, which showed the wise man in
the proverbs, is the basis of those life-like scenes which cover the
walls of the tombs, but which never betray the artist into attempting
impossibilities or revealing too much.

As true art, then--that is, the expression of his being, and the
communication to others of his best feelings and sense of things--the
Egyptian work must stand on the highest plane of reality. It would
have been a falsehood to his nature to aspire, as a Gothic architect
sometimes did, in towers and pinnacles which crush their foundations
and will not hold together without incongruous bonds. Nor did he wish
to express the romantic sense of beauty, in structure which may tend
to exceed the limits of stability. All that belongs to the atmosphere
of troubadours and knights errant. The Egyptian possessed in splendid
perfection the sense of Strength, Permanence, Majesty, Harmony, and
effective Action, tempered with a sympathy and kindliness which
cemented a vast disciplined fabric. And these aims of life as a whole
he embodied and expressed in his art, with a force and truth which has
impressed his character on all who look on his works. He fulfils the
canon of true art as completely as any race that has come after him.



CHAPTER II

THE PERIODS AND SCHOOLS


Before we can understand any art the first step is to discriminate
between the different periods and their various styles, and to observe
the characteristics of the several schools. If we consider medieval
architecture, we separate the many periods from Saxon to Renaissance;
if we turn to painting, we distinguish many stages between Cimabue and
Canaletto, yet these variations belong but to a single revolution of
civilisation, and are comprised within some centuries; in Egyptian art
we have to deal with seven revolutions of civilisation and thousands of
years. And not only the period, but also the source and traditions of
each local branch of the art are to be recognised, and we discriminate
a dozen schools of painting between Rome and Venice, each with its own
style. So in Egypt we need to learn the various schools and understand
their differences. In this chapter we shall notice the essential
characters of each period and school as compared together; while in the
following chapters the more technical detail of the statuary, reliefs,
and paintings will be considered.

In order to grasp more readily the differences of period and of place,
there are given here eight typical examples of different periods (figs.
3 to 10), and four examples of different schools during one reign
(figs. 11 to 14). These may be supplemented by reference to subsequent
illustrations, but the contrasts will be more readily seen in a
simultaneous view.

[Illustration: THE PERIODS OF ART

3. Prehistoric

4. Earliest dynastic

5. Old Kingdom (IV)

6. Middle Kingdom (XII)]

The Prehistoric work (8000-5500 B.C.) shows much more mechanical than
artistic ability. The treatment of the hardest materials was masterful;
granite and porphyry were wrought as freely as limestone and alabaster;
perfectly regular forms of vases were cut entirely by hand without any
lathe. But with this there was a very tentative idea of animate forms.
The feet and hands were omitted, and limbs ended only in points. The
form of an outline was not thought to imply a solid, and it needed
to be hatched over with cross lines (fig. 3) to show that it was a
continuous body. The noses of animals are frequently shown touching,
as in this instance of the dog and addax. In short, the figures are
mere symbols of ideas, with little regard to their actual nature and
appearance. This symbolic stage of art is found in most countries,
and often with a higher sense of form and expression than among the
prehistoric people of the Nile; there is nothing of this age in Egypt
to compare with the carvings of the cave men of Europe.

[Illustration: EARLY. LATE.]

There is no sign of progress in art during this time. The slate
palettes, cut in the forms of animal outlines, which were made through
the whole age, begin with recognisable forms; and these were degraded
by copying, until at the end their original types could hardly be
guessed. The animal figures on ivory combs are passable in the earlier
part of the age, and disappear entirely later on. The human figures,
which are frequent in early times, are very rarely found later. The
flint working shows degeneration long before historic times. And the
pottery loses its fine forms, regularity, and brilliant finish, and
becomes rough and coarse. In every direction it seems that the earliest
prehistoric civilisation, which was probably connected with Libya, was
superseded by a lower race, which was probably from the East.

The first dynasty (5500 B.C.) appears to have brought in entirely new
influences. While the material civilisation naturally went on with
many of the older elements, yet in all directions a new spirit and
moving power is seen. The conquest of the country by a race of invaders
is shown on many carvings, most of which are probably of the three
centuries of unification, before the start of the dynastic history of
the whole country. One of the most typical of these carvings is fig. 4,
where the king is represented as a bull trampling upon his enemy. Other
examples are given in figs. 51 to 54.

The whole character of the art is changed. Instead of the clumsy and
spiritless figures of the prehistoric people, we meet with vigorous
forms full of life and character. Perhaps one of the earliest is the
hyaena (fig. 51); the slates are rather later, reaching down to the
beginning of the first dynasty; and the figures in the round (19 to
22) show what a living and powerful art had suddenly sprung up and was
developed under the early kings. The same growth is seen in the advance
of glazing for important architectural use on a large scale. And the
introduction and rapid development of hieroglyphic writing stamps
the new age as the beginning of written history, the start of the
conscious preservation by man of a regular record of his past acts.

This new growth of art rejoiced in its fresh found powers. It searched
for the truth, it carefully observed anatomy, and--like a learner--it
was proud of its knowledge, and emphasised the precise place of the
muscles which it had traced out. For that very reason it is essentially
a true art, without any of the slovenly substitutes for Nature which
are termed conventions. It had no traditions to spoil it or hold it
back: it was full of observation as the only method for its work. It is
always simple and dignified, and shows more truth and precision than
any art of a later age.

After the conscious study of Nature, the greatest step in any art is
the deliberate work for the sake of its own beauty, and not merely
because it has to tell a story. It may be said that this is the birth
of true art; all before that merely consists of representations for
another purpose. But work for the sake of beauty alone is art pure
and simple, and this stage was reached at the very beginning of the
history, in the beautiful carving of the palm tree and long-necked
gazelles (fig. 52).

The Pyramid age (4700-4000 B.C.) brought in fresh ideals. The early
kings had expanded a chieftainship into a kingdom, without realising
all the new conditions of organization which were involved. The great
work of the early pyramid kings, Senoferu and Khufu, was the massive
organizing of the civil service of the country, the establishment of a
social organism which resisted all the invasions and disasters of the
land, and survived in parts to our own times. These new ideals were
naturally reflected in the art. In place of tombs such as any great
chief might have ordered, the most gigantic pyramids were erected,
buildings yet unsurpassed in bulk and in accuracy of workmanship. The
new social order of the official world followed in the same lines,
and dozens of tombs were sculptured in each reign, larger and more
elaborate than most of the royal sepulchres of other lands and ages.
The host of these tombs which remain constitute a larger treasury of
artistic work than there is of any other period in the world’s history.

A typical example of this new order is the figure of a servant of a
noble named Ainofer (fig. 5). The high rounded relief, the sense of
action, the delicacy of detail and expression, all mark this new time.
The greater part of the really fine sculpture that we possess in Egypt
comes from this time. The statuary (figs. 23 to 31), the reliefs (figs.
55 to 57), the painting (fig. 68), all show the noble spaciousness
and grandeur of the age. Its style is severe and never trifles with
superfluities. The smallest as well as the largest work seems complete
and inevitable, without being constrained by any limitations of time,
or labour, or thought. For the expression of royal energy, dignity,
and equanimity the figures of Khufu and Khafra are unsurpassed. In
the vivid expression of personal character no age has surpassed the
statues of the officials and their wives. The style of other ages may
be more scholastic, more amusing, or more graceful, but for all that
constitutes great art no period can compare with that of the mighty
pyramid kings.

All things pass away, and during the centuries of disruption which
followed the VIth dynasty the old style ran down to an incredible
coarseness and clumsy copying. At the close of the XIth dynasty a
revival took place. Like all great developments of art it rose with
extraordinary rapidity, and within a generation or two the new movement
was fully grown. Its characteristic was the use of very low relief,
with faint but perfectly clear outlines (see fig. 6). It was the style
of a school, and not that of Nature. A regular course of artistic
training is described by an artist; first was taught the positions
of figures in slow action, then the differences of male and female
figures, next mythological subjects, and lastly, the attitudes of rapid
action. This mechanical training naturally went with elaboration of
detail. The minute lining over large masses of hair, the carving of
every bead of a necklace, were the outcome of scholastic training.
The artificial reduction of figures in the round to a very delicate
variation of planes in low relief was according to the same system. The
whole works of the XIIth dynasty are beautiful, reserved, and pleasing,
with a clearness and finish which appeals to a sense of orderly
perfection. They have neither the grandeur of what went before nor the
grace of what followed them.

[Illustration: THE PERIODS OF ART

7. XVIIIth dynasty

8. XIXth dynasty

9. Saite (XXVI)

10. Ptolemaic]

The XVIIIth and XIXth dynasties are the most popularly known age of
the art. The profusion of remains, their accessibility at Thebes, and
the more intimate style of the designs, have led to their general
acceptance as typical. This position must not be allowed in a wider
knowledge of the subject. The whole level of art of the XVIIIth dynasty
is as much below that of the XIIth, as the style of the XIIth is below
that of the IVth dynasty. The scholastic work of the XIIth is followed
by a treatment which is almost always conventional in the XVIIIth; and
the XIXth dynasty shows merely a degradation of what preceded it. At
the close of the XVIIth dynasty there emerges from the turmoil of the
Hyksos barbarism a rude but lively style of drawing, with sculpture
of clumsy figures and badly-formed hieroglyphs. Stepping into the
XVIIIth dynasty we meet with stiff and rather heavy statuettes, the
female figures, however, showing the dawn of the seductive grace which
followed. Little can be said to have changed in ideals since the XIIth
dynasty, until the Asiatic conquests altered the civilisation of Egypt.
Thothmes I and III brought back thousands of Syrian captives, many of
whom were selected for their beauty and their artistic ability; their
work and their influence transformed the art, and the ideal became that
of a light, graceful, fascinating type which posed much and suggested
more.

The art of character had become secondary to the art of emotion.
Vivacity and romance led the way, and the older studies of deeper life
and fine anatomy were out of date. Fluttering ribbons and prancing
horses and galloping calves were represented without the laborious
sculpture, but merely painted with a flowing line on the tomb walls,
which were plastered smooth over the roughest hewing in the rock. The
cheapest road to effect was the favourite way, and the eternal solidity
and dignified simplicity of the older ages had vanished. The figure
of an official of Kha-em-hat (fig. 7) is typical of the best work of
this age. The other examples are shown in figs. 36-42, 60-62, 69-78.
This new order of things culminated under Akhenaten, when naturalism,
influenced largely from Greece, removed the older principles of
Egyptian art; and all the passing incidents of life, the domestic
affections of the king and the festivities of his court, became the
subjects of even funerary sculptures and painting in the tombs. After
that stage there was nothing left to do but to fall back on the old
stock subjects and copy and re-copy them worse and worse during the
succeeding dynasties. Egyptian art perishes with Akhenaten; all that
came after was a bloodless imitation.

The XIXth dynasty art is fairly represented by a figure of one of
the king’s sons (fig. 8). Here is seen the baldness of the style.
The profile is mechanical, the hair hangs in a heavy and ugly flap,
the body has no anatomy, the legs are badly drawn, and the long
streamers flying from the waist are out of keeping. The coarse, heavy
work of the temples of Abu Simbel, or the great hall of Karnak, is
obtrusive in spite of their grandiose conception. In the XXth dynasty
the inscriptions also suffered by being cut very deeply, so that the
signs appeared as black shadows without any detail. The decay was only
arrested by a deliberate copying of the style of the pyramid age.

The XXVIth dynasty tried to recover the early grandeur of sculpture by
close imitation, but it is rarely that any fragment of this work does
not betray itself by its inane treatment, bad jointing of the limbs,
and want of proportion. One of the best examples of the more original
work is the figure of an elderly official (fig. 9). The want of detail
is hidden by the stiff robe without a fold or curve, leaving only the
head and extremities to be represented. Another example is in fig. 64,
where the bad jointing and lack of anatomy is too evident.

In the Ptolemaic time these faults are even more apparent, when the bad
copy of a copy was the ideal. In fig. 10 is seen the hopelessly wrong
proportioning of the parts, the clumsy lumps of flesh and exaggerated
muscles, which are the extreme opposite to the over-refined flat relief
of the XIIth dynasty. The hair partakes of the same faults, being
carved as rows of lumps representing separate curls.

Portraiture, which compelled some attention to Nature, is the latest
surviving form of art. In the XXVIth dynasty fairly good heads were
occasionally done, but often with some disproportion. The modelled
stucco heads of the Roman age are the last stage. Some of them show
a real ability and feeling for character (figs. 135 to 137), and one
example which can be compared with the skull proves the accuracy of the
modelling (fig. 138).

The various Schools of Art should now be noticed. The styles of the
different periods that we have considered were of course obvious in all
the schools; the character of an age affected all parts of the country.
Owing to the absence of any artists’ names, and the extreme rarity of
those of architects, it is impossible to trace the personal origin of
any works. And as we cannot say how much the artists travelled about
the country, mere locality does not prove a conclusive test; probably
for royal works the artists went to any city according to orders.
Among private tombs we can see great differences of style, as between
Memphis, Thebes, and Aswan. But the difficulty of exact dating makes
comparison doubtful, as we might set side by side works of the rise
and of the climax of a period. The most satisfactory evidence about
the schools is from the statuary in different materials. When once a
sculptor was trained to the peculiarities of one stone he would not
be likely to enter on all the difficulties of a fresh material. A man
trained for years to slicing and bruising out granite without the
least fear of a crack, would not relish hewing soft sandstones that
split, or limestone that could not be trusted with its own weight on a
finished surface. Certainly the men who learned sculpture on the softer
materials would be helpless on the granite. Then we know that the
statues were at least dressed into shape--if not entirely finished--at
the quarries, and hence the work in one material would continue in
the hands of one local school. It is therefore likely that the stone
workers of each material formed an unbroken succession, probably in
certain families for the most part, and handed on their traditions for
several dynasties successively, perhaps even throughout thousands of
years. This would not be so much the case in relief sculpture, as there
the blocks were built in and sculptured at the building, wherever that
might be.

When we look for differences of treatment we see how strongly one style
of work is continued in one material through a long period. We have
here contemporaneous examples in four different stones, the statues
of Rameses II in black granite, hard limestone, red granite and Nubian
sandstone (figs. 11 to 14). In all cases work in black granite is finer
than that in the other stones at the same period. The figures of the
so-called Hyksos type (fig. 34), of the XIIIth, the XVIIIth, the XIXth
and the XXVth dynasties, and the sarcophagi of the XVIIIth dynasty,
in black granite, all show far finer forms and finish than those in
the other materials. Of briefer use there were two other stones which
show equally fine work--diorite, which was hardly ever sculptured
except in the IVth dynasty (fig. 27), and green basalt, used in the
XVIIIth (fig. 37). The green basalt must be put in the highest place
as regards minute handling and freedom of curves; the fine grain and
moderate hardness were most favourable to the artist. The black granite
work comes next in quality, having fine curves but not quite the same
freedom, owing to the coarser grain. The diorite has a beautiful grain
for work, but the hardness has influenced the detail of recesses,
and it is seldom that inner angles are as truly worked out as in the
black granite. The comparison is perhaps hardly just, as there are no
contemporary works in these two stones. It seems not improbable that
all these hard stones were found in the same region, the Eastern
desert, and that they were all worked by one school. That there was a
fine technical training there in early times is shown by the splendid
bowls and vases of the hardest rocks which were wrought in prehistoric
ages and the first dynasty. Such vases were made in the mountain
district, as the figures of a warmly-clad race bear them in tribute to
the Egyptian king (_Jour. Anthrop. Inst._, xxxi., pl. xix., 13-15).
Thus we may look on this black-granite school as belonging really to
the border people of the Eastern desert, and not to the Nile plain.

[Illustration: RAMESSU II, BY DIFFERENT SCHOOLS

11. Black granite

12. Hard limestone

13. Red granite

14. Nubian sandstone]

The limestone school was expressly that of Memphis and Middle Egypt. It
is best known from the host of private statues found in the cemetery
of Saqqareh. Work of the finest delicacy was done in this soft and
uniform material (see figs. 24, 29-32); and a branch of the same school
was that working the harder limestones which were a favourite stone
in the XVIIIth and XIXth dynasties in upper Egypt, as in the colossus
of Rameses II (fig. 12). Both branches of this school excelled in the
delicate expression of physiognomy; the proportions of the limbs and
the finish of the extremities are usually excellent. The alabaster work
is a branch of this same school, with similar proportion and finish.
It is a rare material for sculpture till the XVIIIth dynasty, but
under Amenhotep II to IV it was often used; and it serves for one of
the best works of later time, the statue of Amenardys (fig. 47). The
quarries were in the midst of the limestone hills, especially where the
hard limestone occurs near Tell-el-Amarna. Thus the same school dealt
with this whole group of calcareous rocks.

Another very fine school was that of the quartzite sandstone of Gebel
Ahmar, near Cairo. The material was closely limited to a single hill
cemented by hot springs; and what is now seen there is only the immense
heap of chippings left by workers of all ages: the hill itself has
almost vanished. This material was worked in the pyramid times, but
only roughly. The XIIth dynasty kings saw its value, and quarried
it for sarcophagi and chambers, but seldom used it for sculpture.
The XVIIIth dynasty attacked it on an enormous scale; the two great
colossi of Amenhotep III, weighing 1175 tons each, were cut and carried
up-stream 450 miles to Thebes. Statues are found, royal and private,
in all parts of the land, and naturally this stone was largely used at
Tanis. The work is usually excellent, almost equal to the limestone
sculpture; but it generally falls a little below that of the previous
schools in the depth of cutting and the freedom of work in hollows.

The red granite school was at Aswan, where the statues and obelisks are
still lying unfinished in the quarries. The artist was much hindered
by the coarse grain of the stone, which made fine work difficult.
On the obelisks this has been fairly overcome by a great amount of
emery cutting, and sharp smooth hieroglyphs were cleanly cut. But for
statuary, even in the pyramid age the features are coarsely worked and
the detail scanty; and when used later on a large scale, the forms are
heavy, the inner angles seldom worked out, and the extremities thick
and massive. This is seen in the colossus of Rameses II (fig. 13), as
well as in earlier figures.

The Nubian sandstone school was the least artistic. The softness and
ready splitting of the stone prevented clean and well-finished work.
Detail was almost impossible, and it was a mistake to use a good
building stone for the wrong purpose of fine carving. In early times
this stone was never used, except locally in its own region. The XIIth
dynasty rarely used it, but by the middle of the XVIIIth it became
general, and it was the main stone of the XIXth dynasty in Upper Egypt.
Its use, however, does not come down to Middle or Lower Egypt. The
long avenue of sphinxes at Thebes are the most familiar sculpture in
this material, and similar figures were also placed by Amenhotep III
in his temple on the Western bank. The great colossi of Abu Simbel are
the main example of sculpture in this stone (fig. 14). They show the
defects of the other southern school, that of red granite. The limbs
are square and heavy, the feet and hands are flat and mechanical, and
the muscles are crude ridges. But the face is fairly rendered, as well
perhaps as was practicable in such material.

We thus see that there were essential differences between the various
schools of Egyptian art, partly due to the various peoples, but mainly
resulting from the material used by each school.



CHAPTER III

THE STATUARY


Figures in the round are the earliest mode of modelling, and remain the
most important, as they are less conditioned than reliefs, and give
full scope to ability and knowledge. The earliest human figures are
found in the second stage of the prehistoric age, immediately after
the white-lined pottery. They are of ivory, limestone, slate, pottery,
or of stick and paste. Such figures did not continue to be made after
the middle of the prehistoric civilisation. The ivory figures usually
end in a mere peg below, with wide hips and shoulders, but no arms.
The eyes are marked, though often the mouth and nose are omitted (fig.
15). The limestone or cement figures have the division of the legs
lined out; some are standing, as fig. 16, with tatu marks painted on
the stone; others are of the armless form, seated, and clearly of the
steatopygous Bushman type. The slate figures are always of men, with
pointed beards, and white beads inserted for eyes. The pottery figures
are roughly modelled, but with the legs separated. The stick and paste
figures are made by modelling a vegetable paste over a stick; the legs
are marked, sometimes arms are added, or else there are merely shoulder
stumps. In one case the head is modelled bald, painted red, and has
a black wig modelled over it, showing that separate wigs are as old
as the prehistoric time. Some ivory tusks are carved with a much more
advanced style of heads (fig. 17), which give the best idea that we
have of the type of the people. The animal figures are rudely cut, but
have a certain ferocious air (fig. 18).

Some much more advanced figures in ivory have the legs and arms
separate, and a passable amount of modelling in the head and body.
Though quite of prehistoric style, they are probably influenced by
the school of highly developed ivory-work of the Ist dynasty, and may
shortly precede that time.

[Illustration: PREHISTORIC

15, 16, 17, 18. Prehistoric figures in the round]

The early dynastic age brought in entirely new ideals. The oldest
figures of this time are the colossal statues of the god Min from
Koptos. These are of much the same work as the prehistoric human
figures, but have spirited drawings of animals incised on them (see
fig. 51). Just before the Ist dynasty there came a finely developed
style of ivory-carving, which is known to us by the many figures of
men and women found at Hierakonpolis. The finest stone-work of that
age is a study in limestone of a king’s head (figs. 19, 20), which is
so closely like Narmer (fig. 54) that it must be just at the beginning
of the Ist dynasty. It is a sculptor’s study of a king preparatory to
making his statue, and, as Professor A. Michaelis says, “it renders
the race-type with astounding keenness, and shows an excellent power
of observation in the exact representation of the eyes.” The delicacy
of the facial curves should be noticed, and the entire absence of any
conventions in the modelling of the mouth as well as the eyes. The
widely prominent ears are a characteristic of the earliest historic
figures; such a feature belongs to a hunting race who need to catch
sounds, and suggests that they always slept on their backs. This is
unlike the prehistoric folk, who were always buried contracted and
lying on the side, as being their natural attitude; but it agrees with
the modern Egyptian, who sleeps in the mummy posture, lying on the back.

A large number of ivory figures were found at Abydos, fully developed
in style, beyond those of Hierakonpolis. They comprise figures of
girls, boys, dogs, apes, a bear, and many lions. They are admirably
easy in their pose, and perfectly natural in form with a simplicity
and truthfulness better than any later work. The figure of an old king
(fig. 21) was with these; notice the subtle expression of the face, the
droop of the head forward, and the natural air. This is probably early
in the Ist dynasty.

Rather later is the hard limestone head of King Kha-sekhem, of the
IInd dynasty (fig. 22). Fine as the modelling is about the mouth, yet
convention has already crept in; the edges of the lips are sharpened,
and the extended line at the outer corner of the eye has been
introduced. We see then under the earliest dynasties the observation
of Nature free from any artificial trammels, unconscious, simple and
dignified, on a higher plane of truthfulness and precision than is
found in later art.

[Illustration: EARLIEST DYNASTIES

19, 20. Ist dynasty king, limestone

21. Ist dynasty king, ivory

22. Kha-sekhem (IInd dynasty)]

In the pyramid age we will first observe the earlier private figures
(23 to 26). Queen Mertitefs (fig. 23) was the wife of Seneferu, at the
close of the IIIrd dynasty. In her type of face, and the treatment of
it, we see an earlier race and earlier work than that of the pyramid
times. The large, staring eyes, the mouth turning down, the natural
hair cut short and brushed straight down over the forehead beneath the
wig,--all these details disappear after this. When we compare this
with the head of Nofert (fig. 24), who was of the next generation,
the change of type and work is at once seen. In Nofert the eyes are
admirably placed, the brow is perfectly natural, and the modelling of
the features is irreproachable. Yet there is less absolute naturalism
than in the older work of the Ist dynasty. The hair is evidently kept
complete beneath the wig, and is laid out smoothly over the forehead.

[Illustration: OLD KINGDOM SCULPTURE

23. Mertitefs

24. Nofert

25. Ka-aper

26. Unknown]

The celebrated figure of Ka-aper, or the “Sheykh el Beled,” belongs
to the same period. The figure is so well known that it need not
appear here, but the full face is less familiar (fig. 25). The mouth
and chin are perhaps the most truthful part, and seem entirely free
from convention. The eyes are excellent in form, but affected by the
technical detail of inserting the eyeball of stone and crystal in a
copper frame. The similar eyes in the head of Nofert are more carefully
inserted, so that the frame is not obvious. The hair is represented as
closely cut, so as to allow the wig to be put over it. We can, however,
hardly judge of this figure as it is, stripped of the coat of coloured
stucco which covered such work. The portions of similar wooden figures
in the temple of Abydos had all been thus painted. Such a coat would
modify the eye setting, and leave only the dark line visible which
imitated the kohl on the eyelids.

Another work of the same age is the best for the pose of the figure
(fig. 26). The vigorous, independent, frank attitude is perhaps the
finest in any portrait, ancient or modern. The profile is of the same
type as that of Nofert, alike in the strong brow and the form of the
nose and chin; the eye is more prominent, and the mouth less luxurious,
while the under-chin is firmer. Such differences are all in keeping
with the character, that of an active mistress of an estate rather than
an easy-going noble.

We shall not find in any of the subsequent work of the pyramid
age--still less in the later ages--such vitality and strength of
individual character as we have seen in these early portraits. With
these stands also the minute head of Khufu (fig. 123), which we shall
notice with the ivory-work.

[Illustration: OLD KINGDOM SCULPTURE

27, 28. King Khafra (IVth dynasty)]

The statue of Khafra (fig. 27) carved in diorite is one of the grandest
works of Egypt. The entire dignity and majesty shown contrast strongly
with the active air of the subordinate classes. The muscular detail
is powerful, but yet in keeping with the serenity of the figure. The
whole is best grasped from below, as it was intended to be seen; but
the head should be studied at its own level, and the profile, from a
cast (fig. 28), shows the form as it originally appeared when covered
with a facing which concealed the grain of the stone. The difference
of character between the calm, easy dignity of this, and the terrible
energy of Khufu (fig. 123), should be observed. It shows how free
the art is from any mere convention of majesty. The hawk behind the
king is shown as spreading out its wings to protect the royal head.
This symbolism is ingeniously hidden in the front view, so as not to
interfere with the effect of the whole figure as it was intended to be
seen. The figures of the Vth and VIth dynasties have more vivacity than
those earlier, but scarcely such a real vitality. The well-known scribe
(fig. 29) is a good piece of expression, showing the attentive, waiting
air of a man who is following dictation. The anatomy is not detailed,
and the surfaces look rather blocked out and bald as compared with
Khafra.

[Illustration: OLD KINGDOM SCULPTURE

29. The scribe

30. Wife and daughter

31. Ranofer]

The lower part of a group is given here (fig. 30) for figures of the
seated wife and daughter. These show good modelling of the figure in a
close-fitting garment, and the hair is worn over the forehead beneath
the wig, as by Nofert. The figure of Ranofer (fig. 31) is one of the
most dignified of the portraits of officials. The pose is strong; the
muscles are well rendered, and not too full though clear. The wig
stands well off the head, and gives a continuous outline with the
figure. It is hard to see how the whole expression could be better than
this.

On looking closely at the detail of these early statues, there is
very little that can be set down as conventional. All the features
are natural, well placed, and harmonious. The relation of the brow
to the eyes is generally true. But this point was entirely missed in
later times. In the XIIth dynasty the eye is rather too forward; and
in the XVIIIth there is hardly a single statue that is correct, the
eyes usually projecting to the plane of the brow. On observing even the
finest figures of later times it will be seen how purely conventional
is their treatment; the mouth and eyes are cold and mechanical, and it
is seldom that any one feature even approaches the truth of the early
art.

In the XIIth dynasty the work shows the scholastic style of deliberate
accuracy, without as much personal vitality as in earlier times. Yet it
is full of carefully observed detail, and is by no means perfunctory
like the later work.

The facial surfaces are well rendered: observe the varied treatment
of the cheek below the eye in figs. 32, 33, and 35, which are clearly
individual. The entirely different form of the mouth in these three
is as evidently personal. Throughout Egyptian work the eye is of two
distinct types, both of which we see here in the XIIth dynasty. In one
type (fig. 32) the upper lid rises to its highest point near the inner
side; and with this form the actual corner, or canthus major, may end
in a mere angle or in a lachrymal fossa more or less developed, an
extreme case of the long and wide fossa being seen in fig. 32, and in
the black granite figure from Alexandria (so-called Hyksos) in Cairo.
This may be called the gibbous form of lid, and it is the more usual
in the sculpture and on coffins. The use of a copper frame round the
inserted eye in Old Kingdom statues makes it uncertain how far the
lachrymal fossa was intended to appear. But the statues of a single
material show a small fossa in most cases, such as Khafra, Dadefra, the
(so-called) wife of the Sheykh, and Sebekhotep III. In later work there
is no fossa, but only an angle, as in Tahutmes III, Amenhotep III,
Amenhotep son of Hapi, and other instances to the end of the dynasties.
But a slight fossa is shown in Akhenaten and his family, and in
Ramessu II; and, under the Ethiopians, Taharqa and Amenardys are both
shown with a long fossa.

The other type of eye seen in figs. 33, 35 may be called the narrow
eye. This seems to belong mainly to the Middle Kingdom, and is seen
in Senusert III, Amenemhat III, Queen Nofert, and Noferhotep. It is
perhaps unknown at an earlier age; and later it rarely occurs, but may
be seen in Merenptah, and somewhat in Mentu-em-hat and some portraits
of the XXVIth dynasty. These remarks are merely to draw attention to
a detail which is easily observed and seldom defaced; but for drawing
conclusions an extensive study is needed of all the varieties of form
and treatment, not only of the eye, but also of the lips, nostrils,
ears, and hair. How far such detail belonged to the subject, and how
much is due to artistic conventions, we cannot yet say; but from the
similarities of portraits of the same person it seems probable that the
details are really due to differences of type.

[Illustration: MIDDLE KINGDOM SCULPTURE

32. Senusert I

33. Senusert III

34. Foreign type

35. Amenemhat III]

We now have a very difficult question to state as to the origin of the
remarkable type of fig. 34. This is one of the class of sphinxes and
statues commonly described as being of the Hyksos. Yet, as the Hyksos
kings’ names are roughly cut on the shoulders of the sphinxes, they
are clearly not the original inscriptions; and, as clearly, these
figures are older than the Hyksos. The type is distinguished by an
extreme muscularity of the face, deeply cut, powerful lips with strong
flexures, and the long nose, not very prominent, but broad. All these
points are much in excess of such features on any statue of a named
Egyptian king. Some similarities may be seen in the type of Senusert
III and Amenemhat III (figs. 33, 35); but these latter are much less
strong and unconventional. It is probable that some of the stock
of fig. 34 has gone to form the type of figs. 33 and 35, but it is
impossible to see in them a uniform single type. It seems most probable
that fig. 34 belongs to an invading people from Syria during the
decadence of the Old Kingdom, between the VIIth and Xth dynasties; but
until some example with an original name may be found, it is useless to
be more definite. It is noticeable how all of the heads of this type
are in black granite, or rarely some other igneous rock; this suggests
that they were wrought by the school of the eastern desert, and may
therefore not be controlled by the decadence of ordinary Egyptian work
between the Old and Middle Kingdoms.

Whether other strange works in black granite--such as the fish-offerers
of Tanis--belong to the same age, has been questioned. It may be
noted, however, that the sphinxes and the black granite bust from
Alexandria have a large lachrymal fossa, while the fish-offerers
have no fossa, but only an inner angle to the eye. The so-called
Hyksos figures from Bubastis are not really of this type, but show an
inheritance of some of its characters, such as belong to the royal
family in the XIIth dynasty. Whenever the royal portraiture of the
XIIth dynasty is fully collected and studied, it will be possible to
clear the attribution of many statues, and so to separate those which
really belong to the earlier stock.

On coming to the XVIIIth dynasty a more mechanical style prevails
(figs. 36-39). This is obvious in the formal raised band of eyebrow,
and the eyes being brought forward to the plane of the forehead. The
lips remain more natural, and are still treated expressively. The best
work of this age is the green basalt statue of Tahutmes III in Cairo
(fig. 37). It accords closely with another figure of black granite of
the same king; but the red granite head in the British Museum is much
coarser and less expressive, as is natural from that school of granite
work. The large nose is vouched for as a family characteristic in the
reliefs of Tahutmes II and Hatshepsut at Deir el Bahri, which have
precisely the same outline of brow and nose; the under-side of the
nose, the slightly rising curve of the lips to the outer corner, and
the flatness of the facing of the lips, seem to be individual details.

The head fig. 36 is of an official of Amenhotep III, in quartzite. It
has a fairly good outline of the cheek, and well-cut lips; and it shows
the more florid and romantic turn of this age in the wavy hair marked
out with lines.

Under Akhenaten (fig. 39) there came a revolution of art, which was
perhaps only a culmination of the naturalistic tendencies that were
growing during the preceding reigns. But it was enforced and supported
by the surrounding changes in religion, ethics, and politics which
were carried out by the humanist reformer who ruled. It was probably
also stimulated by the influence of the contemporary art of Crete and
Greece, the whole eastern Mediterranean apparently sharing in a general
movement. We shall notice this further when considering reliefs and
painting. Of round sculpture the best figure remaining is that of
Akhenaten now in Paris (fig. 39). It has been part of a group of the
king and queen sitting together, and it shows all the characteristics
of this school in the best form. The eyes are quite natural; the lips
are emphasised by a sharp edge along their borders; the jaw and neck
are excellently rendered; and the ear, with its large pierced lobe, is
clearly true to life.

Though the reforms of Akhenaten mostly perished with him, yet the
training of his artists is still to be seen in the sculpture of
Tut-ankh-amen (fig. 38). This has not the professional completeness
of style seen under Tahutmes III (fig. 37), but it carries on the
less precise sentimentalism of Akhenaten (fig. 39), with much feeling
for expression and beauty, but a lack of grip and force. The brow is
neglected, the eye is feeble, the cheek is without detail, but the lips
and chin are enforced as far as possible. The whole effect is sweet but
not impressive.

[Illustration: NEW KINGDOM SCULPTURE

36. Under Amenhotep III

37. Tahutmes III

38. Tut-ankh-amen

39. Akhenaten]

We now turn to the minor work in wood. In the Old Kingdom, wood was
frequently carved on a large scale; of the Middle Kingdom there is the
statue of King Hor; but under the New Kingdom the only large figures
are some rather coarse funeral statues. On the other hand, in small
figures there is a profusion of wood-carving. The wooden _ushabtis_ are
often beautifully treated; the draped figures of women are graceful and
dignified, with minute working of the hair and dress; the grotesque
figures of toilet objects are full of character; but here our space
limits us to one class, and we give the nude figures (figs. 40-42), as
such are rarely found in other material.

[Illustration: NEW KINGDOM SCULPTURE

40, 41, 42. Wood-carvings of girls (XVIIIth dynasty)]

The little negress (fig. 40), carved in ebony, is part of a group
representing her carrying a tray, which is supported by a monkey before
her. But these accessories are inferior, and merely hide the figure;
the edge of the tray has been slightly cut in on the breast and thus
disfigured it. The detail of this statuette is better than any other
such work; the perfect pose of the attitude, the poise of the head, the
fulness of the muscles, the innocent gravity of the expression, are all
excellent.

Other figures are carved in the handles of toilet trays. The girl in
fig. 41 holding flowers and birds is on a smaller and coarser scale
than the preceding, but is excellent in expression and in the modelling
of the trunk. The damsel playing a lute on her boat amid the papyrus
thicket (fig. 42) shows one of the graceful adjuncts of water-parties
in high life. The length of leg is exaggerated to harmonise with the
long stems around; but the pose is skilfully seized, the distance of
the feet being needful for balance in a little shallop, while the cling
of the thighs is maintained. There is more self-consciousness and
deliberate effect in this expression than in that of the little girls
seen before.

The age of decadence now begins with the Ramessides. One fine piece
arrests us in the black granite statue of Ramessu II (fig. 43), of
which an entire view is given in fig. 11. The whole pose is fairly
good, the face looking down toward the spectator below. The king is
no longer the dignified organiser of the Old Kingdom, with a vision
far away beyond everyday matters, but he is obviously considering the
opinion of the man in front of him. The detail is almost equal to that
of the previous dynasty; the eye is natural, the nose rather formal,
the lips with the sharp edge even more developed than before, and the
chin and throat less modelled. The elbow is carefully wrought, bringing
out the fold of flesh and the muscle separately, the accuracy of which
is questionable.

A good example of a private sculpture is the head of Bak-en-khonsu
(fig. 44). The eye is only slightly indicated, leaning to the
conventional blocking out seen in figs. 91 and 137. The profile is
good, and the lips are less exaggerated than in the royal statues. The
artist could give all his attention to the face alone, as the figure
is entirely hidden in an almost cubic block, which represents the man
seated with knees drawn up before the chest.

[Illustration: NEW KINGDOM SCULPTURE

43. Ramessu II

44. Bak-en-khonsu

45. Merenptah

46. Taharqa]

The head of Merenptah (fig. 45) shows him as inheriting and imitating
his father’s face and attitude. The style is cold and formal; the eyes
are so forward as to be even beyond the plane of the forehead, and
scarcely capped by the brow. But the nose and lips are natural and free
of the forcing which is seen rather earlier. There is no attempt at any
delicacy of facial curves, and the chin and throat are masked by the
official beard. As this is in gray granite, and was executed as the
_ka_ statue of the king’s personal temple, it may be taken as the best
that could be done at that time.

A different feeling comes in with the massive individual portrait of
Taharqa (fig. 46). The facial muscles are strongly marked, but the
mouth is singularly unformed, and is exactly the opposite of that in
the strong type of fig. 34. The eyes are of the gibbous form, with
a long slot of lachrymal fossa, which is also shown in the kindred
figure of Queen Amenardys (fig. 47). The style is not akin to any other
Egyptian work, and it seems as if an entirely different physiognomy had
challenged the sculptor and made him drop his usual treatment and study
Nature afresh.

The alabaster statue of Amenardys (fig. 47) is disproportioned as a
whole, though parts are good separately. It has just the faults due to
an imitator who does not trust to observation. The head is too large,
the jointing is weak. Each of the features is fairly well rendered;
and within the limits of later mannerism there is no forcing or
exaggeration.

The portrait of Mentu-em-hat (fig. 48) belongs to the same style as
that of Taharqa, and both are in black granite. The eyes seem too
small, but this is rather due to the depth and massiveness of the
jaws, which overweight the face. The apparent disproportion in the
low forehead is only due to the photograph being taken too close and
low down. The height above the eyes is really equal to that down to
the upper edge of the chin. The facial curves are carefully observed,
and we can well credit this with being a true portrait of the
capable governor of Thebes who continued in office under Taharqa and
Tanut-amen, and who repaired the devastations of the Assyrian invasion.

[Illustration: LATE SCULPTURE

47. Amenardys

48. Mentu-em-hat

49. Basalt head

50. Wooden head]

A head broken from a statue, found at Memphis (fig. 49), is remarkable
for the deep and searching modelling. The bony structure, the facial
muscles, and the surface folds are all scrupulously observed. The
artist’s triumph is shown in the harmony and the living character
which he has infused into his laborious precision. Very rarely can a
man rise superior to such a rigorous training. The character of work
is scarcely Egyptian; it belongs rather to the same school as the
republican Roman portraits, but is earlier than those, as it has more
precision of detail.

Lastly, we have one of the best examples of Greek influence in Egypt
shown by the wood-carving of a coffin (fig. 50). The long narrow face
shaded by thick wavy hair is Greek in feeling, while the feather
head-dress is old Egyptian. Unfortunately, the decay of the wood has
broken the surface, but it still remains an impressive example of
Egyptian influence on art which is mainly Greek.



CHAPTER IV

THE RELIEFS


In reliefs the representation of Nature is complicated by the
inevitable use of some conventions, and some kind of perspective,
to reduce solid objects to a plane delineation. It follows that for
the study of naturalistic art they are inferior to statuary, though
they give rise to a whole system of artistic conventions which are
of interest in themselves. It appears that among most races drawings
precede reliefs, and hence relief must be looked on as developed
drawing, and not as trammelled statuary.

[Illustration: EARLIEST RELIEFS

51. Hyaena and bull

52. Gazelles and palm

53. Group of animals

54. King Narmer]

The oldest reliefs are those of the prehistoric ivory carvings (see
fig. 3), in which we see maintained the pictorial convention of
crossing lines to substantiate the outline of a solid body, although
the body was now expressed by the relief. A large quantity of ivory
reliefs showing rows of animals were found at Hierakonpolis, belonging
to the earliest historic times. Of the same class are the reliefs
upon the primitive figures from Koptos (fig. 51). These comprise the
elephant, stag’s head, and swordfish, as well as the hyaena and ox.
The design is spirited, and seizes the characteristics of the animals;
while hills are conventionally shown by lumps under each foot. The
method of work is by bruising out the surface with a pointed stone
pick around the outline, and so lowering the surrounding ground (here
shaded), while the body of the animal remains of the original face of
the stone.

The next stage is that of the astonishing slate reliefs. The purely
artistic motive is seen in the group of two long-necked gazelles with
a palm-tree (fig. 52). The detail of the forms of the joints and the
general pose of the animals is excellent, and the feeling for the
graceful, slender outline and smooth surfaces is enforced by the rugged
palm stem placed between the gazelles. The love of the strange and wild
elements is seen in the rout of animals, real and mythical, in fig. 53,
which shows the lion, giraffe, wild ox, and many kinds of deer, well
known to the early artists.

The figure of King Narmer (fig. 54) is the historical point in these
slate carvings. As it is more advanced in style than any of the others,
it shows that they all belong to the age just before the Ist dynasty,
about 5500 B.C. Here the pose and jointing are excellent, and the
muscles are proclaimed by the artist as the results of his observation.
The later Egyptian canon is observed that a straight line should pass
through the middle of the head, middle of the trunk, point of the
backward knee, and middle between the heels: only, as the king is here
leaning forward in action, the line is not vertical as it is in later
standing figures. The facial characters of the king and his foe are
well distinguished; altogether five different types of race are shown
on these early carvings. The surface of the slate has been worked down
with a metal scraper, shown by the parallel grooves in the face.

On reaching the beginning of the pyramid age the finest work is seen
in the three wooden panels of Ra-hesy (fig. 55, _frontispiece_). The
anatomy is full, though not so excessive as in the earlier work. The
facial curves are carefully rendered, and the mouth is excellently
formed. The eye is of course placed in front view, as it always was
by Egyptians. The whole figure has an air of stark vigour, which is
fitting to a high official who managed a dozen different offices.

The multitude of the mastaba tomb-chapels of the pyramid age contain
so many thousands of scenes, illustrating every act of life of men and
animals, that it is impossible to give any view of their variety. Here
we can only give two scenes illustrating composition. In fig. 56 is
a group of men dragging down an ox for sacrifice. The arrangement of
the lines is clear, each figure stands out separately, the action is
vigorous and simple. Another scene of an ox-herd (fig. 57) shows quiet
motion, with the unusual turning of the head. This might be thought
unnatural, but exactly the same twist of the body may be seen among
Egyptians now. This style of relief deteriorated in the VIth dynasty,
and then continuously decayed until the middle of the XIth dynasty, by
which time it has reached a most degraded state.

[Illustration: OLD KINGDOM RELIEFS

56. The sacrifice

57. The ox-herd]

Suddenly, in the middle of the XIth dynasty, a new style of careful
elaboration begins to appear, a true archaic germ of a new school.
This rapidly grew, until at the later part of that dynasty there is a
stiff and over-elaborate style, which is well shown in the figure of
the princess Kauat having her hair curled (fig. 58). The eyes of all
the figures are gibbous, with a moderate fossa; the lips have usually a
sharp edge, though sometimes merely rounded; and there is the beginning
of facial modelling.

In the XIIth dynasty the surface modelling became elaborate, most
delicate gradations being wrought with faint outlines, as seen in
the Memphite head, fig. 6. A bold high relief and simpler treatment
was followed by the Theban school, as in fig. 59 of the god Ptah and
Senusert I embracing. The use of sunk relief, as fig. 58, was as early
as the IVth dynasty, though most of the tomb sculptures are in high
relief. Sunk relief became commoner in the Middle Kingdom, and almost
universal in the New Kingdom. It saved a large amount of labour, and
it protected the sculptures from injury; but it is so forcible a
convention that it is never so pleasing as the raised work.

[Illustration: MIDDLE KINGDOM RELIEFS

58. Toilet of princess

59. Senusert I and Ptah]

The XVIIIth dynasty opens with another revival of art, but yet it never
reached the levels of the earlier ages. The profusion of reliefs of
Thebes and other great sites has made the style of the XVIIIth and
XIXth dynasties the most familiar to us, but its inferiority to that
of the previous periods is more obvious the more it is studied. The
sculptures of Hatshepsut at Deir el Bahri are celebrated, yet the
detail in fig. 60 is not rich. There is scarcely any modelling of
face or muscles, mere flat surfaces sufficing; there is but little
expression in the features; and the whole effect is flat and tame.
More character appears under Amenhotep III (fig. 61), though even here
there is none of the muscular detail which was constantly shown in
early work. The features smile gracefully without any real expression,
and the trivial details of dress are worked out to give a picturesque
elaboration. The taste for mere prettiness and graceful personalities
ruled more and more as the XVIIIth dynasty developed.

[Illustration: NEW KINGDOM RELIEFS

60. Hatshepsut

61. Servant of Kha-em-hat

62. Akhenaten and queen]

At last this taste, stimulated by the influence of the Greek art and
its love of expressing motion, broke all bounds in the movement under
Akhenaten. The example in fig. 62 gives the essence of Atenism. The
natural but ungainly attitudes, the flourishing ribands, the heavy
collars and kilt, the ungraceful realism of the figures, the loss of
all expression and detail of structure,--all these show the death of a
permanent art in the fever of novelty and vociferation.

This ferment being passed, the Egyptian went back on his older style;
but it had lost its life, it could only be copied. The exquisite
smoothness and finish of the good work of Sety I at Abydos is entirely
lifeless and destitute of observation. It has no anatomical detail, but
was made by well-constructed human machines who could not express an
emotion which they did not feel.

The historical scenes of the great sculptures of Karnak are full of
interest, but almost destitute of art. Some parts of the work of
Ramessu III at Medinet Habu show more observation, such as the hunting
scene, fig. 63. The wild bulls are well studied, and the marsh-plants
with feathery tops show a real appreciation of natural growth and
beauty.

Under the XXVIth dynasty came the deliberate imitation of the work
of the Old Kingdom. In a few cases this is passably done, and even
some invention may be seen. But in general there is only a lifeless
imitation of various parts clumsily put together. One of the best
pieces of such art is the procession of youths and maids carrying
animals and farm produce (fig. 64). The forms are true, there is none
of the later exaggeration (as in fig. 10), and there is a loving touch
in the details, especially of the animals, which belongs to the true
artist. Observe how the girls carry the flowers and the birds, while
the boys take the heavy loads of papyrus stems and a calf and a basket
of flour. Such work is the last flicker of Egyptian art in reliefs, and
nothing later claims our notice.

[Illustration: LATE RELIEFS

63. Bulls in marshes

64. Bearers of offerings]



CHAPTER V

THE PAINTING AND DRAWING


Painting is certainly the earliest art of Egypt; but, being more
perishable than sculpture, many periods of it are hardly represented
at present. A very early prehistoric vase, painted with white slip on
the red ground, shows the crude figures of two men fighting (fig. 65).
Other such vases have plants and other objects painted. From the middle
of the prehistoric age, belonging to the second civilisation, are the
light-brown vases painted in red, with figures of ships and people
(fig. 66), plants, and imitations of stone and wicker patterns. The
joints are fairly correct in the men and animals, though deficient in
the woman with raised arms. But the whole air is very crude as compared
with the roughest efforts of the dynastic race. Another painting rather
later in the prehistoric age is the ship from a tomb fresco (fig. 67).
The arms of the woman are more correctly drawn as straight, but the
men are worse posed than in the earlier work. The idea of the figures
seen above the ships, but entirely detached from them, may be that they
are seen on the opposite bank of a narrow river, beyond the ships.

The advanced painting of the early pyramid times is shown by the geese
(fig. 68), stalking along in a meadow amid tufts of herbage. The air of
grave self-sufficiency is admirably caught, and this small piece of a
great wall-scene at Medum is deservedly admired. Of the Middle Kingdom
there is no fine example remaining.

[Illustration: EARLIEST PAINTING

65. First age of prehistoric painting

66. Second age

67. Ship on wall-painting

68. Geese of Medum]

The great age of painting was the XVIIIth and XIXth dynasties. The
sculpturing of tombs was then abandoned in favour of the cheaper paint;
and the taste of the age for graceful and light treatment found its
best scope in the use of the brush. Here we have a group of pelicans
(fig. 69) with an old herdsman and baskets of eggs. Next (fig. 70) is
a harvest scene. Two men are carrying a load of the ears of corn in a
net. Behind are the stalks of straw after the ears have been cut. Two
girls who were gleaning have stopped to quarrel over the corn; one has
seized a wrist of the other, and the two free hands have each taken a
grip of the other one’s hair. To the right, under a sycamore fig-tree,
one boy is asleep, while another plays on a long reed pipe, with a
water-skin hung over his head. In the lower line a girl with a thorn in
her foot is stretching it out to be examined by another girl. Further,
a lad is stripping the heads of millet by dragging them through a fixed
fork. The whole scene is full of incident, and the drawing of the
figures in unusual action is excellent. The curious dress of the men
is a linen waist-cloth, with a net of slit leather-work to take the
wear, and a solid piece of leather left in the middle of it for sitting
on, as in fig. 140. Such slit leather-work is dealt with in the last
chapter.

[Illustration: NEW KINGDOM PAINTING

69. Pelicans and keeper

70, 71. Harvest scenes]

A third scene (fig. 71) is in the harvest field; the ears have been put
into a net, and to press them down a stick is passed through a hole on
one edge, while a man has hooked his arm over the stick, and jumped up
so as to bring his weight with a jerk to press the stick down; with
his other hand he holds the end of a cord tied to the net, so as to be
ready to secure the stick when pressed down and prevent it springing up
again. The spirit shown in this action is very good, and it is perhaps
the only figure given in the act of jumping. On the left is a young
woman, one of the daughters, behind the owner of the tomb; on the right
is a gleaning girl, stopping in the tall corn to drink, with her basket
set on the ground.

On the next plate a portion of a ceiling pattern (fig. 72) shows how
such designs were drawn. The rhombic lines were done first, then the
dark groundwork, leaving white discs, and lastly these were filled up
with the spirals. The whole was copied from _appliqué_ leather-work,
with lines of stitching.

A boating scene (fig. 73) shows the beautifully bold, clean lines of
the drawing, for which in this case there does not seem to have been
any preliminary sketch of position. The crouching girl picking a lotus
bud from the water is very unusual. The drawing of wavy water-lines,
with lotus flowers, is the general convention, and the figures of fish
and birds are often seen.

A scene at a party (fig. 74) shows the guests seated on the ground
holding lotus flowers, while a serving-girl stretches forward to
arrange the earrings of one of the guests.

[Illustration: NEW KINGDOM PAINTING

72. Ceiling

73. Boating scene

74. A party]

Painting received a great stimulus under Akhenaten: the new movement
suited the brush much better than the chisel. The two figures of the
princesses (fig. 76) show possibilities which were not then fully
carried out. The conventional attitudes are dropped, and the actual
positions of two little girls are carefully copied. The elder is
seated on a cushion, with the knees drawn up, and resting one arm on
the knee, while with the other hand she pushes up her little sister’s
chin. The younger has none of this self-possession, but is propping
herself up with one arm, while she clings to her elder’s shoulder with
the other. The drawing is free and true, within the usual conventions
of perspective. Further, the colouring has shade on the backs of the
figures, and a high light on the thigh of the younger daughter. Such
shade does not appear in Greek art till a thousand years later. The
pattern in front is the border of the carpet on which the queen was
seated, her foot and drapery appearing above.

A surprising drawing which belongs to the same school of observation
is the tumbler (fig. 75). Here an acrobatic position is so skilfully
drawn as to suggest its truth and to avoid any impossibility. The form
of each part is admirable; and if we trace it piece by piece into an
upright position, the resulting figure is correctly proportioned,
except in the length of the arms. In reality such an attitude requires
the hands to rest on the finger-tips where the wrist now is drawn. As a
drawing of a violent attitude this is a marvellous work, not only for
the directness and perfection of the line, but also for the complete
lightness and swing of the whole figure.

Another good piece of action is the man (fig. 77) who is standing
on a boat’s cabin hauling in a rope. The dead-weight of the body is
well thrown back; and as the base is small, one leg is kept in reserve
behind so as to recover any slip. The dead pull, with both feet planted
together and the whole body rigidly leaning back, is often drawn in
the early fishing scenes; but such an attitude would be unsafe when
standing on the top of a narrow cabin.

[Illustration: NEW KINGDOM PAINTING

75. Girl somersaulting

76. The young princesses]

We now turn to outline drawing, in which the Egyptians always had a
grand facility. There is no instance, even in degraded times, of an
outline made as in modern work by little tentative touches feeling the
way. If they made a mistake, they at least “sinned splendidly.” The
long free strokes, always taking the whole length of a bone at once,
and often going down a whole figure without raising the hand--even,
true, without a quiver or hesitation--shame most modern outlines. The
group of heads (fig. 78) shows well the amount of character given by a
simple outline. The furthest is a negro, the next a Syrian, the third
an Abyssinian, the last a Libyan. The type of each is shown with zest
and energy, and the line-work could not be improved.

[Illustration: NEW KINGDOM DRAWING

77. The boatman hauling

78. The four races

79. Sketched tablet

80. Tomb decoration]

In fig. 79 is a very rough sketch for a little tablet of adoration. It
shows the faint outlines in red which were laid in first to space out
the figure. Such were used in nearly all cases as a preliminary guide;
but they were freely improved on in the final black drawing, as here
the whole base has been lowered. This also shows the sketch-forms of
hieroglyphic writing.

The final work for a royal tomb is seen in fig. 80, Sety I offering to
Osiris. We can here admire the perfect freedom and exactitude of the
handling, although this was only intended as a guide to the sculptor,
and was not to be finally visible.

A large branch of drawing which we have not space to illustrate here
is that of the papyri and hieroglyphs. The papyri show the clear,
fine outlines in the good examples. In later times, rough as the work
may be, the feeling for expression never deserts the artist. The
hieroglyphs form a great study by themselves. The sources of the signs,
the various treatment of them, the minute details introduced, are all
full of interest. The great result was that the Egyptian had a writing
which, though cumbrous, was a continual pleasure to see, and which
adorned the artistic monuments on which it was placed.



CHAPTER VI

THE ARCHITECTURE


Strange to say, Egyptian architecture has never yet been systematically
studied; we know nothing of its proportions and variations.

The earliest constructions were of brick, or of palm-sticks interwoven.
From the necessary forms of these all the details of the stone
architecture have been copied. A parallel is seen in Greece, where
the architecture was an exact transcription of a wooden building, the
triglyphs, mutules, and guttae being the beam-ends, tie-boards, and
pegs formerly belonging to woodwork.

[Illustration]

For the greater security of the corners of brick buildings, the
Egyptians tilted the courses up at each end, thus building in a
concave bed, with faces sloping inwards. This slope was copied in the
stone-work, and is seen on the outsides of all Egyptian buildings (see
fig. 83). The inside faces are always vertical, and this serves to
distinguish the meaning of small portions of wall in excavations.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

Slight structures were made of palm-sticks, set upright, and lashed
to a cross stick near the top, with other palm-sticks interwoven to
stiffen the face, and the whole plastered with mud. Such construction
is made now in Egypt, and is seen in the earliest figures of shrines.
At the top the ends of the palm-sticks nod over, and form a fence to
keep out intruders. This row of tops is the origin of the stone cavetto
cornice, which always stands free above the level of the roof. At the
corners the structure of palm-stick was strengthened by a bundle of
sticks or reeds lashed round, and put as a buffer to prevent a blow
breaking in the edge. This became the roll with lashing pattern which
is seen down the edges of the stone buildings, and also beneath the
cavetto cornice where it is copied from the line of sticks below the
loose tops (see fig. 83).

[Illustration]

Another form of construction was with papyrus stems. These had a
loose, wiry head like an _Equisetum_ or mare’s tail. When used for a
cabin on a boat, the roofing stems were put through the loose head,
which was tied above and below to hold them. Hence the row of heads
became copied as an ornament along the tops of walls, and continued in
use thus down to the latest times.

The use of the arch was familiar from early times. Even before the
pyramid-builders small arches of bricks were made. They were the
general mode of roofing in the XIIth dynasty, when we see them drawn
and imitated in stone. From the XIXth dynasty there remain the great
arched store-rooms of the Ramesseum. Being of dried mud brick, which is
far more easily crushed than stone or burnt brick, the circular form
was not suitable, as the apex would yield by crushing. A more or less
parabolic form was therefore used, so as to give a sharper curve at
the top. To protect these arches from the weather, they were laid four
courses thick, with a deep layer of sand and gravel over the top, to
absorb any rain as a sponge.

Arches were usually built without any centring; and to this day the
Egyptian similarly builds arches and domes of any size without centring
or support. Each ring of arch is laid on a sloping bed, so that the
thin arch bricks on edge will stick in place by the mud-mortar until
the ring is completed. The same construction is started in each corner
of a room until the arching meets in a circle, when the dome is carried
round ring on ring, increasing the dip toward the top. The successive
coats of an arch are often bedded on opposite slopes, so that the rings
cross each other.

The outer form of a temple was always a blank wall on all sides, as
at Edfu, which preserves its circuit wall complete. Usually the outer
wall has been removed for building (fig. 83), and the inner courts with
columns are exposed. In further ruin all the walls of squared blocks
are gone, and only a group of pillars is left on the site.

A typical building of the early age is the temple of red granite built
by Khafra at Gizeh (fig. 81). The pillars are 41 inches square, and
there are sixteen of them in the two halls. The work is perfectly
plain; not a trace of ornament is to be seen in this or other temples
of the IIIrd-IVth dynasties. Only on the outside was there a panelling,
like that on the brick buildings and stone sarcophagi of this age.
The masonry of this temple is much less exact than that of the early
pyramids. The whole effect of it is grand and severe, with the noble
breadth which belongs to the early times.

The tower front of the temple at Medinet Habu (fig. 82) is one of
the few façades that is preserved. It was copied from the Syrian
fortresses, and shows how the Asiatic influences had entered Egypt
during the three centuries from about 1500 to 1200 B.C.

[Illustration: ARCHITECTURE

81. Granite temple

82. Medinet Habu

83. Dakkeh]

The most complete view of a whole temple is that of Dakkeh (fig. 83).
The girdle wall has been destroyed, thus exposing the components of the
temple clearly. At the left is the great pylon, the gateway through the
girdle wall. This led to the portico, which was the front of the house
of the god, like the porticoes to human houses. Behind this a cross
passage, of which the door is seen at the side, passed in front of the
shrine and its ante-chamber. This was one of the most perfect small
temples, but it has been much destroyed in recent years.

[Illustration: EARLIEST FORMS OF COLUMN

84. Palm capital

85. Rose lotus

86. Blue lotus]

The massive square pillars of the granite temple gave place before
long to more ornamental forms. The principal types are the palm and
lotus in the Vth dynasty, and later the papyrus. The palm capital is
shown on the granite columns of Unas (fig. 84). It was probably derived
from a bundle of palm-sticks bound together and plastered with mud to
stiffen them, like the bundles of maize-stalks which are still used for
columns. Around the top of it some of the loose ends of the palm-sticks
were left with the leaves to form a head.

The lotus capital appears likewise as a shaft decorated with buds
around it (fig. 85). In this case the buds are the short, thick ones
of the rose lotus, with flowers of the blue lotus put in the intervals
under the abacus. But the lotus bud soon became treated as a solid
support, and in the capital of the blue lotus (fig. 86) the whole is
formed of four lotus buds. The bands of the tie were always strongly
marked, however changed the capital might become in later time. The
papyrus column belongs mainly to the XIXth dynasty, as in the great
hall of Karnak. It was the most incongruous of all, as a single
gigantic head of loose filaments was represented as supporting the
whole weight.

Plain polygonal shafts were also common. Some octagonal ones occur in
the Vth dynasty. In the XIIth dynasty they are sixteen-sided, keeping
the four main faces flat and slightly hollowing the others. This was
continued in the earlier part of the XVIIIth dynasty, but after that
the polygonal form almost disappears.

Here we can only touch on some of the artistic elements; the
architecture as a whole is beyond the scope of so small a volume.



CHAPTER VII

THE STONE-WORKING


We here begin to deal with the more technical rather than the purely
artistic view--the crafts as well as the arts. Connected with the
last chapter is the study of the materials and methods used for the
architecture.

Limestone was the main material of the land, the Eocene cliffs fencing
in the Nile valley along four hundred miles. The two finest kinds are
the Mokattam stone opposite the pyramids, which is perfectly uniform
and free from splitting or flaws; and the hard silicified stone
occurring at Tell el Amarna and elsewhere. The next commonest material
was soft sandstone from Silsileh, used generally after the middle of
the XVIIIth dynasty, especially in the Thebaid. The less usual stones
are the red granite of Aswan, which was used from the Ist dynasty
onwards; the quartzite sandstone of Gebel Ahmar near Cairo, begun
on a large scale by the XIIth dynasty; basalt from Khankah and other
eruptions, used in the IVth and XIXth dynasties; alabaster from the
quarries near Tell el Amarna; and diorite, used by the pyramid builders
only.

The quarrying of the limestone was usually by large galleries run into
the best strata. Blocks of two or three feet in size were cut out by
picking a trench wide enough for the arm to pass downward around the
block, and then inward below it, until it could be cracked away from
the bed. The blocks were thus cut out in regular rows, from top to
bottom of the gallery face. The same method is still kept up in the
open-air quarry at Helwan. For larger blocks a trench eighteen inches
wide, in which the workman could pass, was cut around the block. In
the sandstone quarries the same mode of cutting was followed, only the
quarry was open to the sky. So carefully was inferior stone rejected,
that instead of following cracks in the rock, a wall of stone was left
on each side of a crack; and such walls, each containing a fissure,
divide the quarry to its whole depth.

The granite was first obtained from loose water-worn blocks at the
Cataract, a great advantage of such a source being that any cracks are
made visible. Later it was quarried in the bed; a large mass still in
the quarry has been trimmed and marked across to be cut up for shrines
or sarcophagi. The early mode of fissuring was by cutting a groove and
jumping holes through the thickness of the stone, to determine the
direction of the fissure. Probably the active force was dried wood
driven in and wetted, as there is no trace of bruising by metal wedges
on the sides of the groove. In later times, instead of holes, mere
pockets were sunk rather deeper in the groove to hold the splitting
agent.

For cutting passages or chambers in rock, the method was to make a
rough drift-way, then finish a true plane for the roof, next mark an
axis upon the roof plane, trim the sides true to the distance from a
plumb bob held at the axis, and finally smooth the floor to a uniform
distance from the roof. In a rock chamber the roof was finished first,
and a shaft was sunk to the intended depth of the chamber to mark it
out.

The surfaces of rock and of dressed stones were picked smooth by a
short adze, with cuts crossing in all directions. The edges of a stone
were first dressed true, and then the space between was referred to the
edges. To do this, two offset sticks with a string stretched between
the tops of them were stood on the edges, and a third offset was used
to test the depth to the face, so as to see how much was to be cut
away. For larger stones, a diagonal draft-line was cut true as well as
the edge drafts, so as to avoid any twist. The face was finally tested
with a portable plane smeared with red ochre, and wherever that left a
touch of red, the stone was cut down; this was continued until the red
touched at intervals of not more than an inch. This was the quality
of face for joints; but it was further smoothed by grinding on outer
finished surfaces. The rough hewing of rock tombs was generally done
with mauls of silicified limestone, which is found as nodules left on
the surface.

The granite and hard stones were also sawn, and cut with tubular
drills. The saws were blades of copper, which carried the hard cutting
points. The cutting material was sand for working the softer stones,
and emery for harder rocks. As far back as prehistoric times, blocks
of emery were used for grinding beads, and even a plummet and a vase
were cut out of emery rock (now in University College). There can be no
doubt, therefore, of emery being known and used.

The difficult question is whether the cutting material was used as
loose powder, or was set in the metal tool as separate teeth. An actual
example was found at the prehistoric Greek palace of Tiryns. The hard
limestone there has been sawn, and I found a broken bit of the saw
left in a cut. The copper blade had rusted away to green carbonate;
and with it were some little blocks of emery about a sixteenth of an
inch long, rectangular, and quite capable of being set, but far too
large to act as a loose powder with a plain blade. On the Egyptian
examples there are long grooves in the faces of the cuts of both saws
and drills; and grooves may be made by working a loose powder. But,
further, the groove certainly seems to run spirally round a core, which
would show that it was cut by a single point; and where quartz and
softer felspar are cut through the groove floor runs on one level, and
as the felspar is worn down by general rubbing, the quartz is actually
cut through to a greater depth than the softer felspar. This shows that
a fixed cutting point ploughed the groove, and not a loose powder.
Also, the hieroglyphs on diorite bowls are ploughed out with a single
cut of a fixed point, only one hundred and fiftieth of an inch wide,
so it is certain that fixed cutting points were used for hand-graving.
There is no doubt that sawing and grinding with loose powder was the
general method, but the use of fixed stones seems clearly shown by the
instances above.

The large hieroglyphs on hard stones were cut by copper blades fed
with emery, and sawn along the outline by hand; the block between the
cuts was broken out, and the floor of the sign was hammer-dressed, and
finally ground down with emery. Hammer-dressing was largely used in all
ages on the hard stones; the blows crushed the stone to powder, and
the stunning of the surface was often not quite removed by grinding,
and shows as white spots. The hammer was usually of black hornstone, a
tough amorphous quartz rock.

The methods of placing the stones in the building have been often
debated. The foundations were usually laid on a bed of clean sand, and
this enabled the whole course to be accurately adjusted level to begin
with. For temples, it seems most likely that the interior was filled
with earth as the building advanced; and thus the walls, drums, and
architraves could be as easily dealt with as on the lowest course.
This plan is successfully used at Karnak in present repairs. But where
stones needed to be raised for a pyramid or a pylon, some staging was
required. Remains of a massive brick slope still stand against each
face of the unfinished pylons at Karnak. This, however, is only the
general mass of the staging, and the actual steps for the stones must
have been of stone, as brick would crumble to powder if any lifting
work was done directly upon it.

[Illustration]

For short blocks a cradle of wood was used, of which many models have
been found in foundation deposits along with model tools. On tilting
this to one end, and putting a wedge beneath it, it could be rocked
up the slope, and so gradually raised, first to one end and then to
the other. For large blocks, the actual lifting was probably done by
rocking up. If a beam be supported by two piles near the middle, a
small force will tilt it up clear of one pile; on raising that pile
the beam may be tilted the other way, and the lower pile raised in its
turn. Thus rocking from pile to pile, a beam can be quickly raised till
it is high enough to be moved on to the next step. It was probably thus
that the fifty-six granite beams, weighing over fifty tons each, were
raised in the pyramid of Khufu.

The obelisks were transported on great barges, as shown in the
sculptures. The method of raising such stones is partly explained
by an account of setting up colossi of Ramessu IV. A causeway of
earth was made sloping up for a length of a quarter of a mile; it
was ninety-five feet wide, and one hundred and three feet high on
the slope, probably about sixty or seventy feet vertically, as the
slopes were held up steeply with facings of timber and brushwood. The
purpose of this evidently was to raise the great block by sliding on
its side up the slope, and then to tilt it upright by gravity over
the head of the slope. How the mass would be turned we have nothing
to show, but probably the simplest way, by gradually removing earth,
would be followed. By next ramming earth beneath the obelisk as it lay
on a slope, it would be quite practicable to force it forward into an
upright position.

After a building was finished the sculpturing of its walls had to be
executed. For this, a long training of sculptors was needful, and
the art schools filled an important part in education. The simplest
subjects of outlines in limestone were a first step, the sign _neb_
requiring a straight and a curved line only. After the geometric forms
came studies of heads and of hands. In fig. 88 we see how, after a
fair control of the graver had been attained, there was still much to
be learned in detail and harmony before the artist could be trusted to
decorate a temple.

Statuary also needed a long training. The work was first marked out
in profile of the front and sides, and then cut along these outlines,
as in the rock-crystal figure (fig. 89), where the outlines at right
angles have been cut, but the corners are yet unrounded. In the block
for the head of a lion (fig. 90) the various planes have been already
cut for the face, before attempting any rounding. The limestone head
(fig. 91) shows a further stage, where the general rounding is done,
but the details of the lips, ears, eyes, and eyebrows are yet left in
the block. All of these stages needed incessant practice, and years
must have been spent in training in the schools before final work was
undertaken.

[Illustration: STONE VASES

87. A-H. Prehistoric

J. VIth dynasty

K. XIIth dynasty

L, M. XVIIIth dynasty]

Turning now to stone-work on a smaller scale, the hardest materials
were wrought for vases in the prehistoric age. In the first
civilisation, basalt, syenite, and porphyry were in use as well as the
softer stones, alabaster and limestone. The later civilisation brought
in slate, coloured limestone, serpentine, and lastly diorite, which
continued to be the favourite stone into the pyramid age. The main
differences of form are shown in fig. 87. The earlier type of vase
is the standing form F, with a foot, and no piercing for suspension.
The later prehistoric age brought in the suspended stone as well as
pottery vases. The main types were A, B, D, E, G, H, and lastly C,
cut out of coloured marbles, of syenite, and of basalt. All of these
vases were cut entirely by hand without any turning, or even any
circular grinding, on the outside. The polish lines cross diagonally
on the curved sides, and the slight irregularities of form, though
imperceptible to the eye, can be felt by rotation in the fingers. The
greatest triumph of this stone-work is the vase from Hierakonpolis
in black and white syenite, of the type A, E, two feet across and
sixteen inches high, which is highly polished, and hollowed out so
thin that it can be lifted by one finger, though if solid it would
weigh four hundred pounds. The interior of these vases was ground out
with stone grinders fed with emery, and in softer stones cut out by
crescent-shaped flint drills.

[Illustration: METHODS OF SCULPTURE

88. Trial piece of learner

89. Rough drafting

90. Lion’s head drafted

91. Head nearly finished]

The historic times show a continual decline in the quality of the stone
used. In the Ist dynasty the hard stones decreased, and the softer
slate and alabaster were more common. In the pyramid age only diorite
continued in use among the hard materials, and that but rarely compared
to soft stones; while in the XIIth and XVIIIth dynasties, beyond an
occasional vase of obsidian or serpentine, nothing is seen but the soft
alabaster. The form J belongs to the VIth dynasty. K is a type which
descends from the Ist dynasty, but in this form wide at the top belongs
to the XIIth, after which it disappears. L and M are of the XVIIIth
dynasty.

Amulets of fine stone were used from prehistoric days onwards. Of
the early ones, the bull’s head is the commonest, made of carnelian,
haematite, or glazed quartz. The fly is made of slate, lazuli, and
serpentine in prehistoric times, and of gold in historic jewellery. The
hawk is found of glazed quartz and limestone, the serpent of lazuli
and limestone; the crocodile, the frog, the claw, the spear-head are
all found in prehistoric use. In the Old Kingdom, small amulets of
carnelian or ivory were usual; the forms are the hand, the fist, the
eye, lion, jackal-head, frog, and bee. In the Middle Kingdom the more
usual material was silver or electrum. The New Kingdom used amulets but
little; the great profusion comes from the mummies of the Saite time,
when dozens may be found on one body. The great variety of forms and
materials would require a volume to explain them.

Beads were used from prehistoric times. The hard stones were cut
then--quartz, amethyst, agate, carnelian, turquoise, lazuli, haematite,
serpentine, as well as glazes on quartz and on paste. Glazed pottery
beads became the more usual in historic times; glass beads were made
from the XVIIIth dynasty onward, and hardly any other material was used
in Roman times. There are hundreds of varieties known, and an accurate
knowledge of their dates is essential in excavating.

Flint was worked to the highest perfection in the prehistoric age, and
continued in use till Roman times. Strictly, it is chert rather than
flint, as the beds in which it is found are of Eocene limestone. But in
general appearance and nature they are closely the equivalent of the
chalk with flints in England, only harder. The prehistoric forms are
shown in fig. 92. They exceed the flint-work of all other countries
in the regularity of the flaking, the thinness of the weapon, and the
minute serration of the edges. At present such work is entirely a lost
art, and we cannot imagine the methods or the skill required to produce
such results. Besides the weapons, flint armlets were made, chipped
out of a solid block, yet no thicker than a straw. These were ground
with emery finally to smooth them for wearing. Flint was commonly used
down to the XIIth dynasty for knives, but all the dynastic working is
far inferior to the earlier. In the XVIIIth dynasty, and later, sickle
teeth were still made of flint; and flakes were chipped and used in
abundance at some centres in the Roman period.

[Illustration: FLINT-WORKING

92. Knives and lances of the best prehistoric work]

Before leaving the stone-working we may note the accuracy of work,
as this is better seen here than in any other subject. The highest
pitch of accuracy on a large scale was reached under Khufu in the IVth
dynasty; his pyramid had an error of less than ·6 of an inch on its
side of 9069 inches, or 1 in 15,000; and its corners were square to
12″. A change of temperature during a day would make larger errors
than this in a measuring-rod. The accuracy of levelling, and of finish
of the stones, is on a par with this; joints over six feet long are
straight to a hundredth of an inch. The pyramid of Khafra has three
times this error, varying 1·5 inch on 8475, and 33″ of angle. That of
Menkaura is worse, being on an average 3 inches out on 4154, and 1′ 50″
of angle. At Dahshur the errors are 3·7 on 7459 inches base, and 1·1 on
2065, with angular errors of 4′ and 10′. In smaller work, a beautiful
example is the granite sarcophagus of Senusert II, which is ground flat
on the sides with a matt face like ground glass, and only has about
a two-hundredth of an inch error of flatness and parallelism of the
sides. The later ages, so far as we know, have left nothing that can be
compared with the accuracy of the early dynasties.



CHAPTER VIII

JEWELLERY


Native gold is, in all countries, one of the earliest materials for
manufactured ornaments, and it appears to have been much used in
prehistoric Egypt. Though gold is not now sought in or near Egypt,
we must remember that it is found in the stream deposits of most
countries, and its absence from the Mediterranean lands now is only
due to the ancient workers having exhausted the supply. The immediate
sources of the metal were in Nubia and Asia Minor. The Asiatic gold
was certainly used in the first dynasty, as it is marked by having a
variable amount of silver alloy, about a sixth; but looking at the
African influence on Egypt it is probable that Nubia was the first
source, though whether gold (_nūb_) was called from the country
(_nūb_), or the reverse, is uncertain.

[Illustration]

So general was the use of gold for necklaces, that the picture of a
collar of beads became the hieroglyph for gold. Strings of minute gold
beads were worn on the ankles in prehistoric times (8000-5000 B.C.).
Larger beads were economically made by beating out a thin tube, and
then drawing down the ends over a core of limestone. A thin gold finger
ring has been found, and a flat pendant with punched dots. But most of
the prehistoric gold is seen on the lips of stone vases, overlaying
the handles of vases, and forming the wire loops for carrying them.
Similarly it was used for covering the handles of flint knives; a sheet
of gold was fitted over the flint, embossed with figures of women,
animals, twisted snakes, a boat, etc. But the use of thin gold leaf
which adheres to its base, is not found until the pyramid times. At
the close of the prehistoric period we meet with a gold cylinder seal
engraved with signs. When we remember that it is very rarely that an
unplundered grave is discovered, the quantity of gold objects found
show that the metal must have been generally used in the ages when
commerce developed, before writing was known.

On reaching the historic times we obtain a good view of the production
and variety of jewellery, in the four bracelets of the Queen of Zer,
early in the first dynasty, 5400 B.C. These bracelets (fig. 93) show
how each separate piece was made to fit its own place in a complete
design, and that the later custom of merely stringing ready-made beads
was not then followed.

The bracelet of hawks has the gold blocks alternating with turquoise.
The hawks on the gold pieces are all equal, but the sizes of the blocks
vary in the height. This is due to their being all cast in the same
mould, which was filled to varying amounts. The surfaces were hammered
and chiselled, but not either ground or filed. The order of the hawks
was marked by numbering them with cross cuts on the base; these cuts
are directly across for the blocks on one half, and diagonally across
for the other half.

The bracelet with spiral beads has the gold spiral formed of a hammered
gold wire, thicker at the middle, where it forms the barrel of the
beads. This form is imitated in the three dark lazuli beads down the
middle. The triple gold balls, on either side of those, are each beaten
hollow and drawn into a thread-hole left at each end; so perfectly
wrought are they that only in one instance does the slightest ruck of
metal remain. To join the three balls together they were soldered, but
without leaving the least excess or difference of colour.

In the lowest bracelet the hour-glass-shaped beads are of gold, with
one of amethyst between each pair. The gold is doubtless cast, being
solid. None of these are pierced, but they were secured by tying round
a groove at the middle of each bead. There was also a fourth bracelet
with a ball and loop fastening which shows the skill in soldering. The
ball is beaten hollow, leaving about a quarter of it open; inside it a
hook of gold wire is soldered in without leaving the smallest trace of
solder visible. The band round the wrist was formed of very thick black
hair plaited with gold wire, which was hammered to exactly the same
thickness. We see from these bracelets that casting, chiselling, and
soldering were perfectly understood at the beginning of the monarchy.

Of about the Ist dynasty there are also copies of spiral shells made
by pressing gold foil, perhaps over shells. These were threaded as a
necklace, imitating the shell necklaces of earlier ages.

On coming to the VIth dynasty (4000 B.C.) we see gold chains (fig.
94) made of rings, each folded into a double loop and put through the
next; these may be called loop-in-loop chain. Gold seals (fig. 95) are
also found, probably made by foreigners and worn as buttons, like many
similar stone buttons.

[Illustration: JEWELLERY

93. Bracelets (Ist dynasty)

94. Chain (VIth dynasty)

95. Gold seal (VIth dynasty?)

96. Gold uraeus (XIIth dynasty)]

The XIIth dynasty has left us some magnificent groups of jewellery,
which were found at Dahshur. The general effect of this work is
graceful and sincere in design and pure in colour. There is no glitter
and pomp about it, but it has the highest beauty of careful harmony
and perfect finish. The tints of the carnelian, turquoise, and lazuli
which are used have been precisely chosen for their clear strength of
colour, while the Egyptian system of putting a line of gold between two
bright colours prevents any dazzling or clashing. The charm of this
jewellery lies in the calm, fresh, cool colouring with the unhesitating
perfection of the work, which seems to ignore all difficulty or
compromise.

Three pectoral ornaments made in successive reigns are each formed of
an open-work gold plate, engraved on one side and inlaid with coloured
stones on the other. The engraved sides of two are here given (figs.
97, 98), as they are better suited for illustration. The earlier
pectoral, bearing the names of Senusert II, is by far the better in
design. The scheme of the whole is grasped at once, and rests the eye;
there is repose and dignity in it. Although clear open spaces are left,
the parts are sufficiently connected for strength.

The second pectoral, of Senusert III, is too complex for a single
piece of jewellery for the breast. The heavy mass of the vulture at the
top over-weights the design; the head-dress of the royal sphinxes is
too tall; and the combination of four captives between the eight legs
of the sphinxes, or twenty-four limbs in action, is far too complex
and distracting. But in the detail we must admire the expression of
the captives; and also the skill with which the parts are united,
especially where the frail length of the tails is held in by the extra
lotus flowers.

The third pectoral, of Amenemhat III, is the least successful in
design. It is made too large in order to take in whole figures of
the king fighting; the action is violent; and, not content with four
figures, the outlines are lost in a maze of emblems which fill all
the space around, so that nothing is clear or restful to the eye. The
earliest pectoral was evidently designed to be seen at a respectful
distance on royalty in movement. To see the last design the queen
would need to be closely stared at, in order to make out the cumbrous
historical document on her breast.

[Illustration: JEWELLERY

97, 98. Chased gold pectoral ornaments (XIIth dynasty)]

Two crowns of gold and inlaid stones belonged also to the princesses.
The floret crown (fig. 100) is perhaps the most charmingly graceful
head-dress ever seen; the fine wavy threads of gold harmonised with
the hair, and the delicate little flowers and berries seem scattered
with the wild grace of Nature. Each floret is held by two wires
crossing in an eye behind it, and each pair of berries has likewise an
eye in which the wires cross. The florets are not stamped, but each
gold socket is made by hand for the four inserted stones. The berries
are of lazuli. In no instance, however small, was the polishing of the
stone done in its cloison; it was always finished before setting.

The upper crown (fig. 99) is less unusual. The motive is the old one
seen on the head-dress of Nofert (fig. 24); but the flowers have become
conventionalised. The band form is broken by the upright flowers rising
from each rosette; and in front there was an aigrette of gold with
flowers formed of coloured stones.

Turning now to the technical details, some small gold lions were cast,
but not all from a single mould. They seem to have been modelled in
wax, and after forming the mould around the model the wax was melted
out, and the metal run in. This method, known as _cire perdue_, was
usual in later periods. The details are slightly chiselled upon the
gold.

Moulding by pressure was used in making cowry beads and tie beads,
which were impressed in stout foil, aided by burnishing on to the model
so as to tool the detail.

Soldering was done most delicately for the side joints of the hollow
cowry beads; it was also used on a large scale for the dozens of
delicate ribs of gold which were fixed to the back plates for the
cloison work of the pectorals. To attach this multitude of minute ribs
exactly in place shows most practised work, for they could not be
treated separately, being so close together.

Wire was made in large quantity for the floret crown. This wire was
all cut in strips, and pieces soldered together to form a length. The
same method was later used by the Jews: “they did beat the gold into
thin plates and cut it into wires” (Ex. xxxix. 3). Drawn wire has not
been found in any ancient work. A favourite style of work for figures
of gods and sacred animals in this age was a mixture of wirework and
sheet metal; such amulets and sacred animals are usually half an inch
high: the example of the sacred cobra here shown (fig. 96) is by far
the finest known.

[Illustration: JEWELLERY

99, 100. Crowns of gold inlaid with stones

101. Granulated gold work (all XIIth dynasty)]

A new decoration which first appears in this age is that of granulated
work (fig. 101). Here it is seen on a case in a zigzag pattern, and on
two pendants. Another example is a pattern of small rhombs on the bezel
of a ring. The granules are 5 × 5 in each rhomb, and eight rhombs on
the bezel, or forty granules in about six-tenths of an inch; allowing
for spaces, the granules must be an eightieth of an inch wide. This
kind of work is found also later on in Egypt, but it may not be native;
in Etruria it was the national type of jewellery about three thousand
years after this.

[Illustration]

The mode of fastening the necklaces was by grooved pieces. One of the
gold cowries, or lion’s heads, or ties which formed the necklace, was
made in two halves with dovetail groove and tongue fitting into each
other along the whole length of the piece. The tongue ran up against a
butt end when the halves coincided.

When we reach the XVIIIth dynasty we see in the jewellery of Queen
Aah-hotep (1570 B.C.) much the same system of work as in the XIIth
dynasty. The whole style is less substantial, exact, and dignified;
both in design and execution it is at all points inferior to the
previous work. One new art appears, the plaiting of gold wire chains,
in what is now commonly called Trichinopoly pattern. This method was
continued down to Roman times.

The Aah-hotep-Aahmes bracelet (fig. 102) is a broad band of metal, with
the figures in raised gold on a dark blue ground. At first it looks as
if enamelled, as the ground runs in the small intervals between the
gold; but it is really a surface formed of pieces of dark lazuli, cut
approximately to the forms and patched around with a dark blue paste
to match it. Two other bracelets (or perhaps anklets) are formed of
minute beads of stones and gold threaded on parallel wires, forming a
band about 1½ inches wide. The pattern seems an imitation of plaiting,
as each colour forms a half square divided diagonally. The necklace
of large gold flies is heavy, and lacks the grace of earlier times.
The axe of Aahmes (fig. 104) is beautifully inlaid with gold, bearing
the king’s names, the figures of the king smiting an enemy, and the
gryphon-sphinx of the god Mentu. The dagger (fig. 103) has more of
the Mykenaean Greek style in the inlaying of the blade, with figures
of a lion chasing a bull, and four grasshoppers. The four heads which
form the pommel are unlike any other Egyptian design; but the squares
divided diagonally on the handle are like the patterns of the bead
anklets, and are probably of Egyptian source.

[Illustration: JEWELLERY

102. Bracelet

103. Dagger (both parts)

104. Axe

(all of King Aahmes, XVIIIth dynasty)]

Of the XIXth dynasty there is the Serapeum jewellery, found with the
Apis burials. The pectoral of Ramessu II (fig. 105) is of good design;
the wings of the vulture are boldly spread in wide curves, and the
king’s name is simple, without titles, and well placed. The border
band is heavy, and the colouring is rich. It is a creditable work, but
entirely missing the grace and sense of perfection of the best work
from Dahshur.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

The gold bracelets with name of Ramessu II found at Bubastis, are
of inferior work, probably for one of his fifty-nine daughters. The
name is only impressed on stout foil, which is set in a framework
of the bracelet, but the surfaces are ornamented with gold granular
work, showing that such was commonly used. There is a pair of
collar fasteners, clumsily made by filing the bent gold and working
thread-holes in the cut; there are thirty-six thread-holes, so the
collar must have been a very wide one. The fastening by two halves
sliding together is made by two wires soldered in to form the dovetail.
In this same group are thick wire bracelets of silver, with a coarse
hatched pattern on the ends; also many plain silver earrings, such as
were worn by the common people of this time.

[Illustration]

Slightly later is the jewellery of Sety II and Tausert from the
Kings’ Tombs. Here are also solid wire bangles, but of gold. And
square wire bangles have the thin tail of each end of the bar twisted
round the stem on the other side, a fastening also commonly found
on finger-rings, of this age and rather earlier. Some clumsy little
open-work beads are made by rough circles of gold wire soldered
together; a wide equatorial circle is joined to a small polar circle at
each end by six small circles touching. Flowers are made by stamping
the petals out of foil; there are ten petals to each, and four of them
are stamped with the king’s name. Some monstrous earrings overloaded
with ornament belong to the end of the Ramessides (fig. 106).

Base gold was much used at the close of the XVIIIth dynasty, and many
of the finger-rings of that age almost verge into copper. But stones
were used for inlay work until the later Ramessides, and glass or paste
does not become usual till up to 1000 B.C. Enamel fused upon metal is
not known until Roman times.

[Illustration: JEWELLERY

105. Pectoral of Ramessu II

106. Earrings of Ramessu XII

107. Gold statuette (XXVth dynasty)]

In the VIIIth century B.C. gold working was well maintained, as seen
(fig. 107) in the statuette made by the local king Pafaabast. The
modelling of the limbs is exact, the pose is free, and it shows the
maintenance of a good tradition. About a century later there is fine
cloison work on the gold birds of the Hawara amulets, as minute as any
of earlier times.

A free use of gold-work comes in with the wealth of the Ptolemaic age,
especially for bracelets and chains. A usual type of bracelet, in gold
or silver, was with busts of Serapis and Isis on the two ends of a
strip, which were turned up at right angles to the circle. These are
generally of coarse work. Plain bangles, bracelets with the two tails
of a bar twisted each round the other, coiled wire bracelets which were
elastic, and hingeing bracelets, are all found in use at this age. Much
Greek influence is seen in the patterns, both now and in the Roman
period. The bangle bracelets were often made hollow, both for lightness
and economy of metal. Cheaper styles were of thin gold foil worked over
a core of plaster; the decoration of cross lines on such shows that
they are probably Roman. The chains of Ptolemaic and Roman age (fig.
109) are simple, but of pleasing style.

In Coptic times bracelets of various forms were made, mostly of
silver and baser metal; but they are all plain and tasteless. Large
earrings were made with a big hoop and a bunch of small pendants, or an
open-work metal bead. Necklets of silver were usual, with the tails of
the strip wound round each other, so as to slide open for passing over
the head.

Gold was also used largely for gilding both metals and wood. The gold
leaf was often about a 5000th of an inch thick, weighing one grain to
the square inch. Thus a pound’s weight of gold would cover about six
feet square; and the gilding of doors and of the caps of obelisks as
described is not at all unlikely.

Silver was known to the Egyptians later than gold, as it is called
“white gold”; and it was scarcer than gold in the early ages. Of the
prehistoric time there is a cap of a jar, and a small spoon with
twisted handle. A few silver amulets are known in the XIIth dynasty. In
the XVIIIth dynasty silver became commoner, as the source in northern
Syria which supplied the Hittites became accessible. The silver dishes
of this age are rather thick, and not finely beaten. One bowl, probably
of Ramesside date from Bubastis, has the brim turned inward like a
modern anti-splash basin (fig. 115). It seems to have been made by
spinning the metal, as thin vessels are now wrought.

[Illustration: JEWELLERY

108. Silver bowls

109. Roman gold chain]

The most elaborate style of silver work is that of the bowls from
Mendes (fig. 108). These are entirely made by hammer work, and no
moulds or matrices were used for the forms. But the finish of the
surfaces is so fine that no trace of hammer or polishing is left.
The design is derived from the fluted vases and bowls of the XVIIIth
dynasty; the fluting was made deeper and stronger, and it was
suppressed below, as it interfered with the using of the bowl, while
round the sides it remained as deep bosses. The detail was all put in
by the graving tool, the sinking round the central rosette, the hollows
in the petals, and the outlines of the petals. There is no sign of
punch-work. The number of ribs is, curiously, indivisible, being 18,
26, 28, and 30; these show that it was not divided either by triangles,
hexagons, or repeated halving. Probably a suitable size of rib was
designed, and then repeated an even number of times; and the divisions
not being truly radial, show that eye-design was followed rather than
geometrical scaling.



CHAPTER IX

METAL WORK


Here we shall deal with the useful metals, apart from the ornamental
work of jewellery previously described. Copper was worked from the
beginning of the prehistoric civilisation. In one of the earliest
graves a little copper pin was found, used to fasten over the shoulders
the goat-skin, which was worn before the weaving of linen. Not long
after, a small chisel appears, then an adze and harpoon, then needles,
and larger sizes of tools come at the close of the prehistoric age.
All of this copper was shaped by hammering. Polished stone hammers
were used, and the work was so exquisitely regular that a polished
surface still remains on an adze, which shows no trace of the method
of manufacture; certainly it was not ground. The mode of hammering is
shown in some early historical sculptures; a stone hammer was held in
the palm of the right hand, which was swung overhead, and brought down
on the metal. How such work could be done without hurting the hand by
concussion is not clear to us. It is strange that down to Greek times
the Egyptians never used a long handle to a hammer.

[Illustration]

In the beginning of the kingdom, copper ewers and basins were made;
these are known from the sculpture of Narmer, and examples are found
in the royal tombs. They were skilfully hammered out, with cast spouts
inserted. The main example of early copper-work is the life-size statue
of King Pepy, and the smaller figure of his son (fig. 110). The trunk
and limbs are of hammered copper, riveted together; the face, hands,
and feet are cast doubtless by _cire perdue_. The ease and truth of
the whole figure shows that there must have been long practice in the
artistic working of copper; yet no traces of such figures are found
earlier, nor for over a thousand years later, and we may thus realise
how scattered are the points we have, in the view of the art as a whole.

The IXth dynasty has left a coarse example of cast copper tooled with a
graver, the brazier of Khety, now in Paris. Of the XIIth dynasty there
is not much copper work, except for tools. The moulds for casting tools
were found at Kahun. They were open moulds, cut out of a thick piece
of pottery, and lined smooth with fine clay and ash.

Down to this age copper was used with only small amounts of hardening
mixture; after this, bronze of copper and tin came into general use.
The earlier copper of the Ist dynasty usually contains one per cent.
of bismuth, and later than that one or two per cent. of arsenic, and
is “underpoled,” in modern terms, that is, a good deal of unreduced
oxide of copper is left in the metal. Both of these mixtures harden it;
and by strong hammering it is made still harder. Copper so treated at
present can be made as hard as mild steel. Thus the metal was fit for
the wood-cutting tools, and for the chisels used for cutting limestone.
The harder stones were worked with emery.[1]

    [1] The earlier source of copper was Sinai, where there yet
    remain thousands of tons of copper slag in the Wady Nasb. In
    the XVIIIth dynasty and onwards, Cyprus--the Kupros island of
    copper--came into regular connection with Egypt, and probably
    supplied most of the metal.

[Illustration: METAL STATUARY

110. Merenra (VIth dynasty)

111, 112. Takushet (XXVth dynasty)]

Bronze has been found in one case as far back as the IIIrd dynasty,
but this was only a chance alloy. It began to be regularly used in the
XVIIIth dynasty, 1600 B.C.; and the source of the tin for it is a point
of interest in early trade. Cornwall and the Malay States are the only
modern sources of importance; but probably other surface sources have
been exhausted, as in the case of gold deposits. Now bronze is found in
Central Europe about as early as in Egypt, and it is unlikely to have
been imported there from Egypt, or to have been traded there as soon as
it would be to a great state like Egypt. The presumption would be that
it originated about Central Europe. As a district in Saxony is known
as Zinnwald, and crystallised oxide of tin is still brought from there
and from Bohemia, it is very likely that there may have been stream tin
deposits capable of supplying Europe and Egypt.

[Illustration: METAL VASES

113. Bronze pouring vase

114. Bronze fluted vase

115. Silver anti-splash bowl]

In the XVIIIth dynasty bronze vessels were wrought very skilfully by
hammer-work. The flask (fig. 113) for washing the sandals of Amen,
inscribed with the owner’s name and titles, is 9 inches high and has a
body 4 inches across; it has been hammered on anvils introduced through
the neck, which is only 1¼ inches wide. By the weight of it (7 ounces)
it cannot average more than ⅟₄₀th inch in thickness. A general mode of
stiffening the thin metal vases was by fluting the surface (fig. 114),
a method also used in prehistoric Greece.

The casting of bronze was generally done by the _cire perdue_ method.
A core of blackened sand is usually found in the casting. This was
probably sand mixed with a little organic matter; as it is never
reddened, probably no clay or mud was used. Over the core the wax was
modelled, and the traces of the modelling tool can be seen clearly on
unfinished bronzes. On an ibis there was a rolled pellet of wax put
between the beak and the breast, so as to induce the flow of the metal
along the beak; this would be easily cut away in finishing. An example
of a kneeling figure shows the legs completely modelled before putting
the pleated dress over them, and then the whole was cast. How the core
was fixed within the outer mould is a difficult question. On the many
unfinished bronzes that I have examined I have never found a definite
connection above the base, but only casual blowholes. Yet the metal was
often run as thin as ⅟₅₀th so that a shift of the core by as little
as ⅟₁₀₀th inch would throw the casting out, and make a flaw. How the
core was retained so firmly in position against the flotation of the
melted metal is not clear. No metal bars were put through the core to
steady it, as Cellini did in his large castings. A system was used of
stiffening bronze-work by casting it over iron rods; by the free use of
iron, this must be of the Greek period. Solid bronze castings come into
use in Ptolemaic and Roman work.

A favourite decoration of copper-work in later times, from about
700 B.C., was by inlaying lines of gold or silver in it. This is a
common system in India now, where it is known as _Keft_ work; the
name suggests that it was introduced from Egypt, where Keft was the
starting-point of the Indian trade route from the Nile. One of the
finest examples of this is the statue in the Athens Museum (figs. 111,
112); another is the hawk-head and collar with the name of Aahmes II in
the British Museum. The lines were first chiselled or punched in the
copper, and then the gold was beaten into the grooves.

No instance of using soft solder to copper or bronze is known till
Roman times.

Lead is found in the prehistoric times in the form of small figures and
little objects; it was probably brought from Syria. It next appears
as a rather common metal in the XVIIIth dynasty, when net-sinkers
were generally made by bending a piece of sheet lead round the edge
lines of the net, much as at the present day. In the filling of bronze
weights it is found both in the XVIIIth and XXVIth dynasties. And an
alloy of copper and lead--now known as pot-metal--was commonly used for
statuettes in Greek and Roman times. In Coptic times pewter bowls and
ladles were made; the bowls are apparently formed by spinning.

Tin is first known in a piece of bronze rod from Medum, of the IIIrd
dynasty. But this was only a freak, and bronze did not come into use
till about 1600 B.C., probably introduced from Hungary, as we have
noticed. At about 1400 B.C. there is a finger-ring of pure tin, known
by its crackling when bent. The metal is, however, scarcely known
separate otherwise.

Antimony occurs in the form of beads about 800 B.C.; as it was familiar
to the Assyrians also, it may have been traded from them.

Iron working is an important subject in the history of culture, and the
appearances of this metal in Egypt are curiously sporadic. The notion,
often suggested, that it might rust away and disappear, is absurd;
nothing is more permanent and noticeable than iron rust. The early
examples are: (1) a piece of sheet iron said to be found between the
stones of Khufu’s pyramid; (2) a lump of iron found wrapped up with
copper axes of the VIth dynasty form, and placed at the corresponding
level in the foundations of the Abydos temples; this is absolutely
certain and not open to any doubt; (3) iron ferules said to be found in
the masonry of a pyramid at Dahshur; (4) an iron falchion said to be
found beneath the base of a statue of Ramessu II. The certainty about
the second example--which was found by trained workmen, levelled at
the time, and is stuck together with tools of known date--prevents our
needing to hesitate about accepting the less precise authentication of
the other examples.

Yet iron continued so scarce until about 800 B.C. that we find then
a thin iron knife with a handle of bronze cast on it as being the
cheaper metal. The explanation of this intermittent use of iron lies in
an observation of Professor Ridgeway’s, that all the sites of native
iron in the world are where carboniferous strata and ironstone have
been heated by eruptions of basalt, and thus produced iron by natural
reduction of the ore. Exactly this combination is found in Sinai.
Carboniferous sandstone has beds of pure black haematite with it,
and a thick flow of basalt has extended over the country. Probably,
therefore, occasional pockets of native iron were found there by the
Egyptians at long intervals, and thus the use of it was intermittent.

The artificial production of iron seems to have been known earliest
in Assyria; it probably arose among the Chalybes at the head of the
Euphrates, from whom the Greek name of the metal was derived. Large
quantities of iron and steel tools have been found in the Assyrian
ruins, but were neglected by excavators. A set of armourer’s tools was
found at Thebes with a copper helmet of Assyrian form, and therefore
probably left by the expedition under Asshur-bani-pal in 666 B.C.
These tools comprise flat chisels, mortise chisels, saws, a punch, a
rasp, a file, a twist scoop, and two centre-bits. The forms of most of
these tools have already attained to the modern types; but the file
is only slight and irregular, and the centre-bits are only fit for
hard wood. The edges of these tools are of steel, probably produced by
case-hardening the iron.

We next find iron tools brought in by the Greeks at Naukratis. Chisels,
flat and mortise, with both tang and socket handles, borers and
axe-heads, were all familiar to the Greek before the Egyptian adopted
them. One instance of an iron adze of Egyptian type is known, but
otherwise it is not till Coptic times that we find a free use of iron
for knives, chisels, flesh-hooks, hoes, pruning hooks, and other tools,
probably due to Roman influence. To go further in this subject would
lead into the general history of tools, which is beyond our scope here.



CHAPTER X

GLAZED WARE


The use of glazing begins far back in the prehistoric age, some
thousands of years before any examples of glass are known. Glaze
is found on a quartz base as early as on a pottery base; and it
seems probable that it was invented from finding quartz pebbles
fluxed by wood ashes in a hot fire. Hence glazing on quartz was the
starting-point, and glazing on artificial wares was a later stage.
Amulets of quartz rock are found covered with a coat of blue-green
glaze; a model boat was made of quartz rock in sections, glazed over,
and united by gold bands; and a large sphinx of quartz, about eighteen
inches long, has evidently been glazed. The fusion of glaze on the
stone partly dissolves the surface; and even after the glaze has been
lost its effect can be seen by the surface having the appearance of
water-worn marble or sugar candy. This system of glazing on quartz was
continued in historic times; clear crystal beads flashed over with a
rich blue glaze are found in the XIIth dynasty; and large blocks were
glazed in the XVIIIth dynasty.

The use of a pottery ware for covering with glaze begins with beads
of blue and green in the prehistoric necklaces. The pottery base
for glazing is never a clay in Egypt, but always a porous body of
finely-ground silica, either sand or quartz rock. This was slightly
bound together, but the whole strength of the object was in the soaking
of glaze on the outer surface.

[Illustration: GLAZES

116. Two-colour glaze of Mena

117. Lotus border (XXth dynasty)

118. Head of Isis

119. Royal fan-bearer]

An astonishing development of glazed ware came at the beginning of the
monarchy. A piece of a vase (fig. 116) with the name of Mena, the first
king of Egypt, is of green glazed pottery, and it is surprising to find
the royal name inlaid in a second coloured glaze, which has probably
been violet, though now decomposed. Thus two-colour glazing in designs
was used as early as 5500 B.C. And at this date glazing was not only a
fine art, it was used on a large scale for the lining of rooms. Tiles
have been found about a foot long, stoutly made, with dovetails on the
back, and holes through them edgeways in order to tie them back to the
wall with copper wire. They are glazed all over with hard blue-green
glaze. The front is ribbed in imitation of reedwork, and they probably
were copied from reed mats used to line the walls. Part of a tile
has large hieroglyphs inlaid in colour, showing that decorative
inscriptions were set up. Rather later, at the beginning of the IIIrd
dynasty, there is the doorway of glazed tiles of King Zeser, with
his name and titles in various colours; this doorway, now in Berlin,
belonged to a room in the Step pyramid entirely lined with glazed tile.

Smaller objects were also made in glaze. A tablet of the first dynasty
bears a relief of the figure and titles of an aboriginal chief,
apparently made to be left as a memorial of his visit to temples--a
sort of visiting card,--as it was found in the temple of Abydos.
Figures of women and animals were found with it, and glazed toggles to
be used in place of buttons on garments. Very little glazing has been
preserved to us from the pyramid age; there are small tablets with the
name of King Pepy (4100 B.C.) in relief, but roughly done.

The general colour of the early glaze is greenish-blue or blue-green,
never distinctly of either colour. Such appears from the prehistoric
age to the pyramid time. The glaze is full, and was not heated long
enough to soak into the body. It often has pit-holes in it, and does
not seem to have been very fluid. In the VIth dynasty a second colour
appears, a dark indigo blue; this is on a scarab of Merenra, and on
small toilet vases of the period. Some earlier scarabs are probably of
the age of the IVth, and even of the IIIrd dynasty; these have a clear
brilliant blue glaze, thin and well fused.

In the XIIth dynasty the glaze is thin and hard. On ring-stands and
vases it is often dry and of a greyish green. A rich clear blue glaze
was also used, and is best seen on scarabs and on the favourite figures
of hippopotami, which were only made in this period. The designs and
inscriptions in the glaze were of a fine black, apparently coloured
with manganese.

The XVIIIth dynasty was the great age of the development of glazing.
It began with so close a continuance of the style of the XIIth dynasty
that it is hard to discriminate one from the other. Down to the time of
Tahutmes III the small pieces and beads with blue colour are as those
of the previous age; but the large bowls are of a brighter blue and
rather a wetter glaze. At the beginning of the dynasty there is also
a dark green glaze used upon schist, mostly seen on the elaborately
carved kohl pots. Under Amenhotep II was made the largest piece of
glazing that is known from Egypt, now in South Kensington Museum.
This was a great _uas_ sceptre made as an offering, the stem of which
is five feet long. This length was built up of separate sections of
body ware, made each about nine inches long, so as to have sufficient
firmness; after they were each baked they were then united with a slip
paste of the same ware, and finally fired with a single flow of glaze
over the whole five-feet length. The head was made separately. The
special difficulty of firing such large pieces is to maintain a uniform
heat over the whole, and to avoid any reducing flame from the fuel,
which would discolour the glaze, and produce lustre ware. The heating
must also be brief, so as to avoid the glaze running down, or soaking
into the porous body and leaving it dry.

Under Amenhotep III and IV the art of glazing reached its most
brilliant development, both in its colours and in the variety of its
applications. Beside the previously used shades of blue and green
we meet with purple-blue, violet, a brilliant apple-green, bright
chrome-yellow, lemon-yellow, crimson-red, brown-red, and milk-white.
Besides the previous uses of glaze for bowls and vases, beads and
scarabs, we now meet with a great variety of pendants and ornaments
for necklaces, more than two hundred and fifty forms of which are
known from the objects and the moulds; also flat emblems and name
plaques, with stitch holes or loops at the edge, for stitching on to
the muslin dresses then worn. The private person thus wore the king’s
name on his arm, and the king wore the titles of the sun-god to whom
he was devoted. The effect of the white muslin dresses with dazzling
blue plaques and natural coloured daisies and other flowers scattered
over them, must have been very striking. Another use of glaze was
for architectural inlaying (fig. 117). The capitals of great columns
were inlaid all over with stripes of red and blue along the palm
leaf design, separated into small squares by gilt bands between. The
whole capital was thus copied on a vast scale from cloison jewellery.
Another use of glaze was for inlaying coloured hieroglyphs in the
white limestone walls. This system was carried on in a simpler way
into the next dynasty, where a great quantity of cartouches of Sety II
are known; and in the walls of the temple of Luqsor are rows of holes
of corresponding size, from which they have probably been taken. A
favourite form of glazed ware in the XVIIIth and XIXth dynasties is
that of the graceful lotus flower cup.

In the XIXth dynasty there is much less variety of glazing; but we meet
with the rise of a new industry which was to eclipse all the others in
its output. Sety I had many glazed figures of _ushabtis_ of blue colour
inscribed in black, or of glazed steatite, in his tomb. Under Ramessu
II they became usual for private persons, and for a thousand years
later they were made in enormous numbers, usually four hundred being
buried in any wealthy tomb. The Ramesside _ushabtis_ are usually green
with black inscriptions, rarely white with purple. In the XXIst dynasty
they are of very intense blue with purple-black inscriptions, and very
roughly made, deteriorating throughout the dynasty. In the XXIInd and
XXIIIrd dynasties they are small, and usually green and black. In the
XXVth they are mere red pottery dipped in blue wash, or little slips
of mud were substituted. The XXVIth dynasty started a different class
of very large figures, up to ten inches high, beautifully modelled,
with incised inscriptions, back pillar, and beard, always of green
glaze; and these deteriorated to Ptolemaic times, excepting that there
are some splendid blue ones of Nectanebo, and smaller ones of bright
colour with ink inscriptions of private persons of his time.

About the XXVIth dynasty, glazed figures of the gods were made for
popular use, and by about 300 B.C. they appear in vast numbers, very
roughly moulded. Some of the earlier pieces are very beautifully
modelled, and glazed so exactly that the hollows are not at all filled
up. A head of Isis (fig. 118), and a half-length figure of a fan-bearer
(fig. 119) are perhaps the finest pieces of such work. The latter
figure is remarkable for the vigour of the muscles and the overbearing
official dignity of the expression.

Great numbers of amulets were also made to be buried with the mummies
or worn by the living. The earlier examples are fairly modelled, of
apple-green tint; in Persian times they are sharp and dry in form and
of an olive-grey colour, but they became very roughly and coarsely
moulded in Ptolemaic times. There are some interesting modelled heads
of this age, covered with blue or green glaze, such as a Ptolemaic
queen, and a woman wearing a face veil. Vases of Greek and Roman styles
were also common. A delicate thin ware with Assyrianesque figures, in
white on a slightly sunk blue ground, was made in the Persian time and
continued into the Ptolemaic age. Large blocks for legs of furniture,
and stands, were also made now. The characteristic colours are of a
dark Prussian blue bordering on violet, and an apple-green.

In the Roman age there is an entirely new style. The body of the vase
is of a purple-black colour, with a wreath of bright green leaves
around it. Such continued almost to Coptic times. The bulk of the
Roman glaze is of coarse forms, and bright Prussian blue in tint. The
vases have animals in relief, apparently under Persian influence. The
flat trays with straight sides are copies of the silver dishes of the
time. The old style of glazing continued down to Arab times; a steatite
amulet, in the cutting, and colour of the glaze, might well have been
of the Shishak age, but for the Arabic inscription upon it. And at the
present day some creditable imitations of ancient glazing are made for
fraudulent trade at Thebes.

Turning to the more technical matters, the body of the ware is always
a porous, friable, siliceous paste; in some cases so soft that it can
be rubbed away from the broken surfaces by the finger. The unglazed
beads and figures occasionally found can hardly be handled without
breaking. This paste was moulded roughly into form, and when dry it
was graved with a point to give the detail. If it broke in the fingers
a good figure would be stuck together again with a scrap of the paste
before glazing. Large objects were made in sections, dried and baked,
and then joined up with some of the same paste, and re-baked before
covering with glaze. In the XXVIth dynasty there is a beautiful hard
stoneware, apparently made by mixing some glaze with the body, enough
to fuse it together into a solid mass throughout. The surface of these
works is always very fine and smooth, without any face glaze, but only
the compact polished body. The usual colour is apple-green, but violet
is sometimes found in the early examples of the XVIIIth dynasty.

The colours were rarely anything beyond shades of green and blue.
These were produced by compounds of copper; the blue is especially
free from iron, which even in traces produces a green tint. The blue
if exposed to damp fades white; the green changes to brown, owing to
the decomposition of green silicate of iron and the production of
brown oxide of iron. This decomposition may go on beneath an unbroken
polished face of glaze, changing the glaze to brown. The shades of
blue and green were all experimentally produced in modern times by Dr
Russell, F.R.S., who succeeded in exactly copying the purple blue,
full blue, light blue and French blue, and the green-blues and full
greens in more than a hundred tints. The method was indicated by the
half-baked pans of colour found at Tell-el-Amarna. Quartz rock pebbles
had been collected, and served for the floor of the glazing furnaces.
After many heatings which cracked them they were pounded into fine
chips. These were mixed with lime and potash and some carbonate of
copper. The mixture was roasted in pans, and the exact shade depended
on the degree of roasting. The mass was half fused and became pasty;
it was then kneaded and toasted gradually, sampling the colour until
the exact tint was reached. A porous mass of frit of uniform colour
results. This was then ground up in water, and made into a blue or
green paint, which was either used with a flux to glaze objects in
a furnace, or was used with gum or white of egg as a wet paint for
frescoes.

The ovens were small, about two or three feet across; cylindrical pots
were set upside down and a fire lighted between them, and the pans
of colour rested on the bottom edges of the pots. In Roman times the
glazing furnaces were about eight feet square and deep, with an open
arch to windward half way up. The vases and dishes were stacked in
the furnace upon cylinder pots, and the successive dishes in the piles
were kept apart by cones of pottery nearly an inch high. The failure of
a furnace-load has revealed the system; by too long heating the glaze
soaked through the porous body, and it all settled down and partly fell
to pieces.

The other colours used were: for the red a body mixed with haematite
and covered with a transparent glaze; bright yellow, the composition
of which is unknown; violet in various depths, from a faint tinge on
the white lotus petals to a deep strong colour, probably made by copper
blue and one of the purples; purple in various strengths from a rich
bright tint upon white to a black purple for designs upon blue, all
produced by manganese; occasionally purple-blue made with cobalt; dead
white, which was doubtless produced by tin as at present.

Before leaving the subject of glazing we may notice the system of
moulding pendants and figures in red pottery moulds, of all sizes from
a quarter of an inch to three or four inches across. A great variety
of these is found at Tell-el-Amarna of the XVIIIth dynasty, and at
Memphis of later periods. They sometimes contain the remains of the
siliceous paste with which they were choked when they were thrown
away. At Naukratis hundreds were found for making scarabs for the Greek
trade. The moulded objects were covered with glazing wash, and put
into the furnace. Beads were commonly made on a thread, dried, and the
thread burnt out; they were then dipped in glaze-wash, and fired. In
early times small beads were rolled between the thumb and finger on the
thread, producing a long tapering form like a grain of corn.


GLASS

There has been much misunderstanding about the age of glass in Egypt.
Figures of smiths blowing a fire with reeds tipped with clay have been
quoted as figures blowing glass, though no blown glass is known in
Egypt before Roman times. A cylinder of glass of King Pepy has been
quoted; but this is really of clear iceland-spar or selenite lined with
coloured paste. A panther’s head with the name of Antef V has been
called glass, but it is really of blue paste. Various pieces of inlaid
stone jewellery have been mistaken for glass, but none such is known
till late times.

There does not seem to have been any working of glassy material by
itself, apart from a base of stone or pottery, until after 1600
B.C. The earliest dated pieces are an eye of blue glass imitating
turquoise, with the name of Amenhotep I (1550 B.C.), and a piece of a
glass vase with an inlaid name of Tahutmes III. Beads of this age are
plain black with a white spot on opposite sides; black and white glass
cups probably belong to the same date. The variety of colours quickly
increased, and by the time of Amenhotep III and IV, about 1400 B.C.,
there were violet, deep Prussian blue, light blue, green, yellow,
orange, red (rare), clear white, milky white, and black.

[Illustration: GLASS

120, 121. Vases (XVIIIth dynasty)

122. Mosaic (late)]

The designs were entirely ruled by the method of manufacture. The glass
was never cast, but was worked as a pasty mass, and all the decoration
was made by inlaying threads of glass drawn out to various thicknesses.
The actual production of the glass we deal with below. The patterns
on a vase or bead were produced by winding threads around the body,
and then dragging the surface at regular intervals (figs. 120, 121).
If dragged always in one direction, it made a series of loops or U
pattern; if dragged alternately each way it made an ogee pattern.
Around the neck and foot a thick thread was often put on, with a thin
thread spirally round it, usually white with black spiral. The forms
of the vases are those usual in other materials at this period, such
as [Illustration]. This same method was followed in the glass found
at Cumae near Naples, dating from about 700 B.C. It is distinguished
from the Egyptian fabric by a duller surface and duller colouring,
and a common form unknown before is [Illustration]. This later glass
is usually mixed with the earlier in museums, and occasionally it is
difficult to distinguish it; but both the forms and the colour leave
very little doubt as to the age.

This system of winding threads of glass was usual for beads also. A
mere chip of a glass bead can be distinguished, whether Egyptian or
Roman, by the direction of the streaks and bubbles in it. The early
glass is all wound, with lines running around; the Roman glass is all
drawn out and nicked off, with lines running along; the medieval and
modern Venetian beads are again wound, and some of the recent ones
closely imitate Egyptian dragged patterns, but can be distinguished by
the opacity of most of the colours.

The XVIIIth dynasty workers also cut and engraved glass, though
but rarely. They sometimes produced a clear glass entirely free of
colouring, even in a thickness of half an inch. About the XXIIIrd
dynasty (750 B.C.) a clear, greenish Prussian blue glass was usual for
beads, and continued to Persian times for scarabs (500 B.C.). Rather
later, about 400-200 B.C., there appears a large development of opaque
glass figures of hieroglyphs, cut and polished, to inlay in wooden
caskets and coffins. Opaque red and blue to imitate jasper and lazuli
were the most usual colours. Figures of the four genii of the dead
and other usual amulets were commonly made by pressing the glass into
moulds while heated. A favourite colouring for such was a deep, clear,
true blue, backed with opaque white to show up the colour.

About the later Ptolemaic time and through the Roman age the main work
in glass is that of minute mosaics (fig. 122). They were built up with
glass rods, heated until they half fused together, and then drawn out
so as to produce a great length of much reduced section. Thus patterns
of extreme delicacy were produced; and one single piece of construction
could be cut across into a hundred slices, each repeating the whole
design. The patterns are sometimes purely Egyptian, as _ankh_ and _uas_
alternately, but more usually Roman, such as heads and flower patterns.
Such mosaics were mounted in jewellery, or, on a coarser scale, set in
large designs for caskets and temple furniture.

The characteristic of Roman times is the use of blown glass. The cups,
bottles, and vases were nearly all blown, often with threads woven
around, dabs attached and impressed, or patterns stamped while soft.
The feet of cups were modelled into form while pasty, the tool marks
showing plainly upon them. Ornamental stamps were pressed on soft lumps
put on the sides of vases. Such stamps became used for official marks,
and in early Arab times they registered the substance for which the
glass measure was intended, also the amount of the capacity, and the
maker’s name in many cases. Another main development of Byzantine and
Arab glass was for weights, usually to test gold and silver coins, but
also for larger amounts up to a pound. These weights bear the stamps
of the Byzantine epochs in a few cases, but are found by the hundred
of the VIIIth to Xth centuries, and by the thousand of the Xth to XIth
centuries, dying out at the early crusading age.

We now turn to the purely technical side, to describe the process of
manufacture in the time of Amenhotep IV, about 1370 B.C., when it is
best known to us, from the remains of the factory at Tell-el-Amarna. A
clear glass could be produced, which was usually not quite colourless,
but sufficiently so to take up various colours. It was free of
lead and borates, and consisted of pure silica from crushed quartz
pebbles, and alkali doubtless from wood ashes. It was fused in pans of
earthenware. This glass was coloured by dissolving the blue or green
frit in it, or mixing other opaque colours. Samples were taken out by
pincers to test the colour at different stages. The whole mass was
fairly fused, and then left to get cold in the earthen pan, which was
about four or five inches across, and held half an inch to an inch deep
of the glass. When cold the pan was chipped away, the frothy top of the
glass was chipped off, and lumps of pure glass were obtained free from
sediment and scum. A lump of glass thus purified was heated to a pasty
state, and patted into a cylindrical form, then rolled under a bar of
metal, which was run diagonally across it, until it was reduced to a
rod about the size of a lead pencil, or rather less. Such a rod was
then heated, and drawn out into “cane” about ⅛ inch thick. Every vase
was built up from such cane.

For making a vase a copper mandril was taken, slightly tapering, of
the size of the interior of the neck. Upon the end of this was built
a body of soft siliceous paste, tied up in rag, and baked upon it, of
the size of the interior of the intended vase. The marks of the string
and cloth can still be seen inside the vases. On this body of powdery
material glass cane was wound hot until it was uniformly coated. It was
re-heated by sticking the end of the mandril into the oven as often
as needful; glass threads of various colours were wound round it; and
the whole was rolled to and fro so as to bed in the threads and make a
smooth surface. A brim, a foot, and handles were attached. Finally, on
cooling, the copper mandril contracted, and could be taken out of the
neck, the soft paste could be rubbed out of the interior, and the vase
was finished. The final face is always a fused surface, and was never
ground or polished.

A similar mode was followed for the glass beads. The thread of glass
was wound upon a hot copper wire of the size of the hole required; and
after piling on enough, and completing the pattern of colour the wire
contracted in cooling and could be withdrawn. The little point where
the thread of glass broke off can be seen at each end of the beads.



CHAPTER XI

THE POTTERY


The varieties of pottery are so extensive that from the prehistoric age
alone a thousand are figured, and the later ages give at least thrice
that number. We cannot attempt to give even an outline of a subject
which alone would far outrun this volume. A single most typical form of
each main period is here shown, to illustrate the entirely different
ideas which prevailed.

[Illustration: PRE. I V XII

XVIII XIX XXVI RO.]

_Forms._--In the prehistoric age many of the forms have no marked brim.
The bowls, conical cups, and jars simply end at a plain edge, like this
marked Pre. Brims were more usual in the later prehistoric age. A great
variety of fancy forms appeared--double vases, square bottles, fish,
birds, or women were modelled; and as the whole pottery was handmade,
such were no more difficult to make than circular forms. On coming to
the Ist dynasty the forms were more clumsy, such as that marked I;
and some of the earlier forms were continued in a very degraded state.
The main feature is the class of very large jars, two to three feet
high, which were used for storing food and drink. This class rapidly
deteriorated and became almost extinct by the IIIrd dynasty. In the
pyramid age some neatly-made pottery is found; thin sharp-brimmed
bowls were usual, and the form marked V, with a sharply pointed
base, was peculiar to this time. By the XIIth dynasty the globular
or drop-shaped pot was the prevalent type, and varies in size from a
couple of inches to a couple of feet. Drinking-cups of a hemispherical
form, very thin, without any brim, are also of this age. The XVIIIth
dynasty was begun with long graceful forms, such as XVIII; and later
some beautiful long-necked vases are found. All of these forms rapidly
degraded in the XIXth dynasty, and ugly small handles come into use,
probably influenced by Greek design. In the XXVIth dynasty, lids with
knob handles became common, and accordingly the brim disappeared, and
a plain edge was used which could be easily capped. The large jars of
this age are of Greek origin. During the Ptolemaic time debasement went
on; and the most ugly, smug, commonplace forms belong to the Roman age.
They are mostly ribbed, as in this marked Ro. The big amphorae begin
with ribbing in the latter part of the second century, in broad fluting
curves. These became narrower and sharper, until in the sixth and
seventh centuries the ribbing had become almost a mere combed pattern
around the jar. The jars also decreased in size, were thicker, softer,
and coarser, until the type vanished with the Arab times.

_Decoration._--The earliest painting on prehistoric vases was of white
slip, in line patterns, copied from basket-work, and rarely in figures,
such as fig. 65. This white paint was put over a bright red facing of
haematite; and such red and white pottery is still made with closely
similar patterns by the mountain tribes of Algeria, where the style
seems never to have died out. The black tops of the early red vases
we shall deal with under Materials. The later prehistoric painting
was in dull red on a buff body, such as fig. 66. In the pyramid age
there was only a polished red haematite facing, and in the XIIth
dynasty even this was not used. About the XVIIth dynasty a fine red
polish was common, which ceased early in the XVIIIth dynasty; white
on the brims, or dabbed in finger-spots over the inside of saucers,
was also of the XVIIth dynasty. Black or red edges to pottery next
appeared, and by Tahutmes III there was a style of narrow black and
red stripes alternating. The use of blue paint, of copper frit, began
under Amenhotep II, but it was not usual until Amenhotep III, and it
was common until the close of the XIXth dynasty, though much flatter
and poorer than at first. After this there was no decoration on pottery
until the late Roman time. About the age of Constantine a hard, fine
pottery came into use, with a thin red wash on it, and often of a pale
salmon colour throughout. When the southern tribes pushed down into
Egypt, the brown and red patterns which were usual in Nubia were
carried with the invaders, and such painting was the main influence in
the painted Coptic pottery.

_Materials._--The prehistoric pottery of the earlier period is all
of a soft body, faced with red haematite. As the pots were usually
baked mouth downward, the brim was covered with the ashes; and these
not being burnt through, reduced the red peroxide of iron to the
black magnetic sesqui-oxide, such as is familiar to us in the black
scale on sheet steel. The interior of the pots is likewise black,
owing to the reducing gases from the ashes below; rarely the heat
after the combustion has lasted long enough for the oxygen to pass
through the pottery, and so redden the inside. Open dishes were
also haematite-faced inside, and the iron is reduced to a brilliant
mirror-like coat of black all over. The reason of the polish being
smoother on the black than on the red parts is that carbonyl gas--which
is the result of imperfect combustion--is a solvent of magnetic oxide
of iron, and so dissolves and re-composes the surface facing. On once
understanding the chemistry of this, it is needless to discuss the
old idea that smoke blackened this pottery. Smoke--or fine carbon
dust--could not possibly penetrate through close-grained pottery, and
the black extends all through the mass, naturally owing to the action
of reducing gases to which the pottery is quite pervious. There may
perhaps be some other kinds of black pottery influenced by smoke; but
it is far more probable that all black pottery is due to black oxide of
iron produced by imperfect combustion, which is accompanied by smoke.

In the later prehistoric age the pottery has a hard reddish buff body
with white specks. In the pyramid period a smooth soft brown body is
usual. Hard drab pottery also appears in the Vth and VIth dynasties. In
the XIIth dynasty the common soft brown body is general, and extends
to the XVIIIth. By the middle of the XVIIIth dynasty a hard drab ware
with white specks and faced with a drab polish is very characteristic,
and continues into the XIXth. Thence onward the brown body reasserts
itself, with some inferior greenish drab ware about the XXIInd dynasty.
Greek clays appear during the XXVIth, but probably all imported from
Greece. Soft red pottery belongs to the Ptolemaic age. But the old soft
brown rules in the Roman time, being at its worst in the early Coptic.
The thin hard ware of the Constantine age is apparently not native, and
may be due either to Nubian or Roman influence.

_Modelling._--A constant use of pottery for modelling should be
mentioned, although we cannot illustrate such a large subject here, as
it is only subsidiary to stone-work in each age. In the prehistoric
time rude figures are often found, both of men and women. Little is
known of pottery modelling in the Old and Middle Kingdoms. Rough
figures of cows are placed upon the brims of bowls about the XIth and
XIIth dynasties. In the XVIIIth-XXVth dynasties a large use of roughly
modelled _ushabti_ figures of servants prevailed. But it is rarely
that the other modelling is apart from foreign influence. A class of
exquisitely formed figure-bottles, of women and animals, was made of
fine foreign clay, probably by Greeks, at this age. Also rude solid
figures of men and horses extend from this time onwards. The great
age of pottery figures begins with the modelled heads of foreigners
from the foreign quarter of Memphis, certainly due to Greek admixture.
These are admirably done, and each hand-modelled singly. They begin
about 500 B.C., and by about 300 B.C. moulded figures come into use. At
first these are solid, but from about 200 B.C. down to 300 A.D. they
are moulded hollow, being made of a front and back half united. The
enormous number of these figures, and of figure-lamps made similarly,
is very familiar from the Roman period. It is remarkable what good
work is shown in some figures even as late as 250 A.D. The late dating
of the figures and the varieties of the lamps are illustrated in _Roman
Ehnasya_ from my own excavations.



CHAPTER XII

IVORY-WORKING


In prehistoric times ivory was much used, doubtless owing to the
elephant being still abundant in southern Egypt. The natural form of
the tusk was often left, and the surface worked in low relief; but
the earlier work was on small pieces, as in figs. 3, 15, 17. Not only
elephant ivory was used, but also that of the hippopotamus. At the
beginning of the Ist dynasty ivory was largely used for statuettes and
carvings. One of the best examples of this school is the figure of the
aged king (fig. 21). Many other carvings of girls, boys, apes, lions
and dogs were found with this at Abydos. At Hierakonpolis a great mass
of ivories was found in a trench six feet long, and many of them have
been preserved. They are figures of men and women, carved tusks, wands,
and cylinders. In the tomb of Mena’s queen at Naqadeh were ivory lions
and dogs, and such were also found in the tomb of King Zer at Abydos,
used for gaming pieces. All of this early ivory-work is vigorous, and
has the character and spirit of the early art.

The finest work known in ivory is the portrait of Khufu, the builder of
the great pyramid (fig. 123). It is here much magnified, as the face
is only a quarter of an inch high. Yet in this minute space one of the
most striking portraits has been given. The far-seeing determination,
the energy and will expressed in this compass, would animate a
life-size figure; indeed, it would be hard in the illustration to
distinguish it from a work on a large scale. The correct position of
the ear should be noted, as it is always put too high up in later
sculpture. Quite apart from the marvellous minuteness of the work,
we must estimate this as one of the finest character-sculptures that
remain to us.

A piece of open work, of a girl standing, is probably of the Old
Kingdom (fig. 124). It is not of the style of hair or treatment of the
Middle or New Kingdom; and in the Saitic age, when the older style
was copied, the work is worse in pose and much more detailed and
punctilious. There are some beautiful pieces of architectural models in
ivory, from the inlaying of a casket, and, also, a figure of the Vth
dynasty.

Of the Middle Kingdom an ivory baboon is perhaps the finest work;
it has disappeared from the museum when at Bulak, and its place is
unknown. A broken figure of a boy carrying a calf shows great truth and
spirit. Ivory was also used for lion-head draughtsmen in the XVIIIth
dynasty, but there are no fine works of that time.

Of the XXVIth dynasty two fine pieces have been found at Memphis, a
lotus flower (fig. 125) and a man bearing offerings (fig. 126). These
had been applied to the sides of caskets or other small woodwork. The
figure of the man is but a stiff and coarse copy of the Old Kingdom
work, lacking the truth and freedom of the early time.

There does not seem to have been any distinctive school of ivory-work
in Egypt. The methods and nature of the objects are just what might
have been done in stone or in wood at the same period. There is no
sign of a special development due to the material, as there is in the
Chinese ivory-carving.

[Illustration: IVORY

123. King Khufu

124. Girl, Old Kingdom

125. Lotus (XXVIth dynasty)

126. Bearer of offerings]



CHAPTER XIII

WOODWORK


[Illustration: FURNITURE

127, 128, 129, 130, 131. Chair, caskets, and bed of Amenhotep III]

Wood was by no means so rare in early times as it is now in Egypt.
Floyer has shown how much the desert has been stripped by the
introduction of the tree-feeding camel. We see in the royal tombs of
the Ist dynasty a large use of wood. The funeral chamber sunk in the
ground was entirely built of massive beams and planks. The area of this
room was 900 square feet in the largest tomb, varying down to 300 in
the lesser. The framing of the floor, the supports, and the roof beams
were about 10 × 7 inches in section and up to 21 feet in length. The
planking of the floor still remains 2 to 2½ inches thick; and probably
that of the roof was equal to it, as it had to bear about three feet
of sand over it. The great scale of this timber work agrees with the
“royal axe-man” being one of the high officials; before stone came
into use, this title was the equivalent of chief architect. Such a
free use of wood shows that the elaborate framing of façades, which is
represented as a usual pattern in early stone-work, was actually copied
from wooden mansions, just as the Greek architecture was an elaborate
copy of woodwork. At the close of the IIIrd dynasty we have a glimpse
of the large use of wood for shipbuilding, when Senoferu built in one
year sixty ships, and imported forty ships of cedar. The great gates of
the temple enclosures and palaces must also have been massive works;
the outer and inner pylon at Karnak had gates fifteen feet wide on
either side, and over sixty feet high.

The wooden coffins of the Old Kingdom are heavy boxes with sides two
to three inches thick. They are fastened together by bolts of wood;
and such wooden pegs are run diagonally in different directions so as
to prevent the parts being separated. Coffins hollowed out of a single
block, to fit the outline of the mummy, were also used in all the
earlier periods. In late times such forms were built up of boards.

For securing the joints of furniture from racking, two correct systems
were used. For chairs, angle-pieces were cut from wood with bent grain,
and fitted on inside the angles. There must have been a constant
demand for such bent pieces, and probably they were grown into shape.
In other cases forms of wood have been found which had clearly been
grown for many years into the shape required. The angle-pieces can be
seen under the front of the seat in fig. 128. Another system for stands
was to put in diagonal bars, as in fig. 130. Sometimes merely the
stiffness of deep panelling was trusted, as in fig. 129. For the backs
of chairs an excellent triangular stay was made, as in fig. 127.

The light and skilful forms of the woodwork are well shown in the
furniture (figs. 127-131) from the tomb of Yuaa and Thuiu, the parents
of Queen Thyi, in the XVIIIth dynasty. The reliefs on the chair are
carved in wood and gilded. The decoration on the casket (fig. 129) is
of blue glazed hieroglyphs and inlays.

Wood was also much used for statuettes. The ebony negress and other
figures (figs. 40-42) show it on a small scale; larger figures were
also made, such as several in the Turin Museum, and some of life-size,
but the latter are coarser in work, as the figure of Sety I in the
British Museum. A fine figure almost life-size remains from the XIIIth
dynasty, King Hor, in the Cairo Museum.

A system of inlaying coloured stones, glazes or glass, in wood as a
basis, is found as early as the Vth dynasty, in the model vases of
Nofer-ar-ka-ra. In the XVIIIth dynasty this method of decoration is
seen on the gigantic mummy-cases of the Queens Aah-hotep and Aahmes,
which were inlaid, probably with lazuli. The inlay was so valuable
that soon after it was all prised out with the corner of an adze,
and blue paint substituted for it. In the XXIIIrd dynasty decorative
figures were wrought in wood, with the whole detail in inlay, as in the
group of Pedubast. And in the Greek period large wooden coffins were
encrusted with inlay of coloured glass, and the sides of wooden shrines
were similarly the basis for brilliant polychrome adornment.

Regarding the methods of woodworking, certainly the axe was the
primitive tool, as shown by the royal architect being designated by
the axe. In the scenes of the pyramid age we find the saw about three
feet long worked with both hands, the mallet and chisel for cutting
mortise-holes, and the adze in constant use for shaping and for
smoothing wood. To this day the small adze is a favourite tool of the
Egyptian carpenter and boat-builder. For smoothing down the caulking
inside a boat, heavy pounders of stone were used, held by a handle
worked out on each side of the block. Drills were also commonly used
both on wood and stone, worked by a bow. The subject of tools and their
variations is a very wide one, which cannot be entered upon here.



CHAPTER XIV

PLASTER AND STUCCO


In the masonry of the pyramids, plaster is constantly used, both to
fill joints as a bedding, and to level up hollows in a face. The
plaster used is a mixture of ordinary lime and plaster of Paris, the
carbonate and sulphate of lime. How it was introduced into the joints
of the pyramid casing is a mystery. The blocks at the base weigh
sixteen tons, so that no free sliding to reduce the joint-filling could
be done; yet the vertical joint, five feet high and seven feet long,
is filled with a film of plaster only a fiftieth of an inch thick.
The joints of the masonry in the passages and chambers are all filled
with plaster, though so close as to be almost imperceptible. In the
core masonry a coarse plaster was poured between the stones and filled
into hollows. The flaws and defects in the faces of stones were freely
filled with plaster, which was coloured to match the stone. In rock
tombs plaster was used to fill up cracks and hollows; and it often
remains in perfect condition while the rock around has decayed.

Plaster was also used on the brick walls, which were faced with a
hard coat about a tenth to a sixteenth of an inch thick, upon which
paintings were executed. By the XVIIIth dynasty this became a mere
whitewash over the mud-facing of the wall. In the roughly-hewn rock
tombs of that age at Thebes, the jagged surfaces were smoothed by a
coat of plaster, often two or three inches thick in the hollows. A
strange use of stucco was for a thin coat over sculpture, as a basis
for colouring. Such a coat was even laid over statuary. In all ages
this hid to some extent the full detail of the sculptor’s work in
reliefs. In the XIIth dynasty the finest lines were hidden by it; and
on coming down to the Ptolemaic times the plasterer ignored all the
sculpture below, filling the figures with a smooth daub of plaster
on which the painter drew what he liked. It seems strange why the
sculptors should have continued to put fine work and detail on to a
surface where they were going to be at once ignored. It suggests a
rigid bureaucracy in which the sculpture had to be passed by one man,
and the painting by another, without any collaboration.

Stucco was used for independent modelling, as in Italy. It was laid on
a flat canvas base, stretched over wood, and the whole relief was in
the stucco. The chariot of Tahutmes IV is one of the main examples of
such work, of which a small portion is shown in fig. 132. The relief is
low and smooth, and full of detail; there is none of the sketchy rough
tooling, as seen in Roman stucco reliefs. Minute details of dress and
hair are all tooled in, and supply some of the best studies of Syrian
robes. The varying patterns on the shields of different branches of
Syrians, the feathering of the arrows, the shape of the daggers, and
the flowers of the papyrus and lotus of north and south, are all most
precisely rendered. It would be hard to find any point in which more
details could be introduced.

[Illustration: PLASTER

132. Stucco relief modelling (XVIIIth dynasty)

133, 134. Plaster castings for studies]

Plaster was also used for casting in moulds, and for making moulds.
The death mask of Akhenaten shows how such castings were produced in
the XVIIIth dynasty, from a single mould without any undercutting, to
serve the purpose of the sculptor as a model. Of later examples of
such castings we have here a lion’s head and a king’s head (figs. 133,
134). They were probably made to be supplied as school copies to the
workshops where the sculptors were trained. Plaster moulds are very
common at Memphis, and it is said they were even used for casting
bronze work. This is very doubtful, as plaster is reduced to powder at
260° C., while moulds for bronze casting must be heated to 1500° to
1800° C.; they are more probably for casting pewter. Plaster moulds
were also used for moulding pottery lamps. The oiling of plaster was
done on painted plaster statuettes, so as to make them waterproof. They
can still be scrubbed in water without disturbing the colour.

The most artistic use of plaster was for the modelled heads, which
were placed on mummy cases in Roman times. Though most such works were
rather crude, some are found which show real ability of portraiture. In
fig. 135 we have a sympathetic study of the face of a young man. The
lips are beautifully true, the modelling of the cheek is quite natural,
the nose and brow well formed; only the eyes have been left blank,
and marked afterwards with colour. The head, fig. 136, is evidently a
careful study, giving the cautious, cold expression of the man. Another
face (fig. 137) is subtle, and full of feeling: the faint smile on the
lips, the gracious contour of the cheek, the wavy hair, give a memory
in death of a real personality. The only jarring feature is the square
brow, copied from an unfortunate convention in Greek art. The eyes
are here again left blank; but they seem to have been intended to be
open, by the slight ridge of the raised lid. Was there a convention of
regarding the dead as incapable of seeing, though seen by memory? How
far these modelled heads were portraits is answered in a curious way by
fig. 138. The light outline there is that of the plaster modelling, the
dark outline within it is the skull from the interior of the coffin.
It will be seen how exactly they agree; there is a thin skin over the
forehead, then a fleshy part to the brow. Along the bridge of the nose
the model closely follows the bone; below the nose the angle of meeting
of the jaws exactly agrees, leaving a uniform thickness of lips;
and lastly, the fleshy fulness of the chin is seen projecting. This
agreement is one which the artist could never have expected to be thus
tested, and therefore gives us the more confidence in his skill.

[Illustration: PLASTER

135, 136, 137. Modelled heads

138. Modelled head and skull]



CHAPTER XV

CLOTHING


Though leather hides, with the hair on, are found over bodies in
the earliest graves, yet linen cloth was introduced early in the
prehistoric times, and is frequently found wrapped around the bodies.

On reaching the first dynasty the weaving is seen to be very fine
and regular, though we only have some of the stuff used for mummy
wrappings, from the tomb of King Zer. The threads are very uniform,
and there are 160 to the inch in the warp and 120 in the woof. Modern
fine cambric has 140 threads to the inch, so it was quite equalled by
hand work at the beginning of Egyptian history. A group of a dozen
different cloths on one mummy of the XVIIth dynasty show 138 x 40 and
128 x 56 as the finest, and 21 x 15 as the coarsest mesh. The greatest
disproportion of the threads is 138 to 40, or 3½ to 1, and the least
is 70 to 62, or 9 to 8; it is recognised as a principle of Egyptian
weaving that the woof was not beaten up as closely as the lay of the
warp. Unfortunately we have scarcely any cloth except mummy wrappings,
and it is not to be expected that the finest work would be thus used.

The size of the looms was considerable. The cloths on the mummy just
named are up to five feet wide; and one edge has been torn off that
amount, so it was originally more. The pieces are up to sixty feet
long, and yet not complete. The looms were horizontal on the ground for
coarse work, such as mats; but fine work was done on a vertical loom,
and from the ease of displacing threads in tapestry the warp threads
were separately weighted and not fastened to a beam. Loom weights of
baked clay or of limestone are common.

[Illustration: CLOTHING

139. Coloured tapestry (XVIIIth dynasty)

140. Cut leather net]

A few pieces of woven tapestry have been found in the tomb of Tahutmes
IV, and part of one is given here full size in fig. 139. The colours
used are red, blue, green, yellow, brown and grey. The coloured
threads pass to and fro over the space assigned to them, thus entirely
parting the warp threads from the neighbouring ones, so that a slit is
left along the vertical margins of the colours. This was remedied by
stitching; but the same weakness is seen in the Roman and Coptic woven
tapestries. These are known from the pagan period, as there are many
mythological subjects; but the greater part belong to the Christian and
Mohammedan ages.

The Roman and Coptic tapestries are placed upon garments as derivatives
from darning, or from patches put on the garments to prevent them
wearing through. The positions are broad stripes over the shoulders
where any object would rest when carried, circular patches on the
breasts and on the knees. On referring to the hundreds of figures in
Roman dress from the third to fifth centuries (in Garucci, _Vetri
ornati di figure in oro_), embroideries or tapestries are unusual in
Italy. A dozen robes with scrolls or foliage patterns are shown, but
only three with knee patches, and one of those (xxxi, 1) is a female
servant holding an Egyptian fan, probably therefore an Egyptian slave.
It seems, then, that this system of circular patches on the wearing
parts is not Roman but Egyptian. Beside the woven tapestries, which
are nearly all in purple, embroidery was done with the needle in white
thread on the purple ground.

Leatherwork was of importance in Egypt in all ages. The two principal
arts in it were the appliqué work in colours, and the cutting of
network. The great example of the appliqué work is the funeral tent
of Queen Isiemkheb, about 1000 B.C. It was eight feet long and seven
feet wide, with sides over five feet high. Six vultures are outspread
along the top, and the sides have a long inscription. The whole of
the figures and signs are cut out in variously coloured leather, and
stitched on to the crimson leather ground. This work we can trace in
the style of earlier decorations, back to the head fillet of Nofert,
fig. 24. It is also continued down to the present day in the appliqué
work in coloured stuffs on the inside of Egyptian tents.

The cutting of leather nets was an art of great skill. Rows of slits
were cut, breaking joint one with other, so that a piece of leather
could be drawn out sideways into a wide net. One of the most delicate
of such nets is partly shown in fig. 140. The square patch left in
the middle of the net was for the wear of sitting on when the net was
put over the linen waist cloth. Such nets over the cloth are shown in
the figures of the harvesters, fig. 70, with the slit network and the
square patch. To cut the leather in such extremely fine threads must
have required great skill and care; and not only is the leather slit,
but considerable slips have been removed so as to produce an open net
close up to the edge band of solid leather; on some edges an inch or
two is cut away to form one side of the rhombic opening.

       *       *       *       *       *

In many directions we have now traced the outlines of the artistic
skill of the Egyptians, but only outlines, which point incessantly to
the wide spaces that need to be filled in by further detail. Much of
that has yet to be discovered, but much is ready to hand whensoever
a careful observer may choose to devote attention to any of the
branches of art or technical work which we have so briefly noticed.
In every direction a complete collecting of materials and an adequate
publication of them would bring a full reward in results.

The powerful technical skill of Egyptian art, its good sense of
limitations, and its true feeling for harmony and expression, will
always make it of the first importance to the countries of the West
with which it was so early and so long connected.



CHAPTER XVI

EGYPT’S PLACE IN THE ART OF THE WORLD


In the opening chapter we have considered the point of view from which
the art of Egypt--like that of every other country--must be approached.
The physical conditions which surround man will necessarily control his
expression of thought and his perception of beauty. Forms and designs
growing out of the conditions of one land will be inappropriate in
another land, and lose most, or all, of their value if transported to
different surroundings. Hence it is futile to attempt to contrast the
art of one country directly with that of another. We might as well
compare the beauty of a tropical garden with that of an alpine forest.
The only ground of comparison is that of expressing the character and
emotions of the artists; and that art which conveys the mental state of
the people most readily is the most perfect art. This criticism leaves
aside altogether the moral question of our appreciation of the people
themselves; that does not belong to art but to ethics. And before we
can begin to judge of that, we must know their surroundings, and the
position in which they were conditioned in the world.

Our consideration here is with the art. When we look over the varied
artistic expression of different races, we see that each people has
seized some one excellence, growing out of its conditions, and adapted
to its feelings and utilities. We can admire each excellence in turn,
and see that in each of these qualities no other people has reached the
same perfection. We must recognise that artistic expression is not only
shown in sculpture and painting, but in literature, mechanical design,
and the amenities and adaptation of the social organism.

In Egypt, as we have noticed, the ruling principles of the art are
durability, strength, and dignity, and such were the features of the
national character. In vain do we look in any other country for as
great an expression of any of these principles. And, with the single
exception of Greece, it was also supreme in precision of work. Its work
was the true expression of character, and in perfect harmony with the
nature of the country.

In Crete, so far as we can yet see, the pre-eminent facilities were
the expression of motion, and the development of decorative form, and
especially colour, upon pottery. Classical art never attained to the
skill shown by the prehistoric art in these directions.

In Assyria, figure and animal sculpture stood very high in the best
period; and the free adaptation of this to the purposes of life, as we
see in the great development of friezes on the palace walls, was the
distinguishing feature. No people seem to have lived amidst their art
more than the Assyrians.

In classical Greece, the supremacy in vital sculpture and architectural
proportion has so filled the attention of the modern world that the
higher achievement of surrounding nations in other directions has been
largely overlooked. In each of the special qualities that we note in
other peoples the Greeks were their inferiors.

Rome was largely dominated by other races in its development; but in
the art of civilisation and raising subject peoples, in the shaping
of life and rule of law, it stood far above any ancient nation. In
this--as in the arts elsewhere--we must look at its best period, when
the impartiality and probity of its administrators brought all Greece
under their sway.

The Celtic and Northern arts stood first in the rhythm of intricate
decoration, and the subtlety of the curves; the ideal may not appeal
to us, but no other region has ever produced such perfect and complex
design.

In Medieval Europe, though sculpture scarcely reached the vitality of
classical work, yet in expression it stood as high as in any school of
art; and in the architecture the sense of expansion and aspiration--the
spiritual aspect--reaches a higher level than man has touched elsewhere.

In Italy, the expression of art in painting was its great achievement,
in harmony with the character of grace seen in other lines of Italian
production.

The Persian and Mesopotamian civilisation triumphed in its glorious use
of coloured glaze decoration, which has been carried westward to Syria
and Rhodes, and still continues in the vast domes of coloured tiles in
Spain.

In Arab art we meet the exquisite calm of geometrical design with
various angles, which cannot be analysed at a glance like a Roman
pavement: they arrest the eye to linger over them, to seek how they
arise, and what they mean.

Further east, it is difficult for us to enter sufficiently into the
fundamental feelings of the races, to enable us to value their art
truly. But we can at least feel the grand sense of profusion when
looking at the mountainous structures of the immense topes and pagodas
of India, peopled with innumerable figures on countless stages. To the
minds which produce and live amongst such forms, all other work must
seem poor and bare. In Chinese art we can admire the fine adaptation
and the sense of minute perfection in the articles before us, the
dignity and reserve shown; and, in the literature, even a stranger to
the land can feel the intimate harmony with Nature, and the mystic
sense of mood in the mountains and trees and lakes around. Hardly any
other poetry that we know touches the spirit of life so essentially.

The facile Japanese may well claim an unsurpassed skill and deftness
in the painting of Nature, and a power to grasp the greatest amount
of reality with the least means. Their perception of Nature in its
strange and mysterious moods, which they show by the brush, is almost
as penetrating as in the literature of China. Their exquisite sense of
fitness, and of taste for beauty of workmanship, only makes us begin to
realise the clumsiness of our own cast-iron performances.

To wander so far from Egypt may seem needless; and it would be so if
the essentials of other arts were more familiar in English works. We
have read lately of an alleged “tyranny of the Nile”; but the real
tyranny over English minds for a century past has been the “tyranny of
the Hellene.” The one side of art in sculpture has obscured all others;
and the English mind has, with its usual idolatry, made the standard of
Greece its sole measure. We need to see that a dozen national arts have
each been supreme over the others in some one aspect. Then we shall
see how meaningless it is to contrast the excellence of one national
art with another. Each country has to confess that it has only fully
expressed one aspect out of many in the immense range of human life.

Now we can begin to see the real meaning of the so-called limitations
of Egyptian art. Every people has had its limitations likewise, fitting
it to its conditions; and if we look at them all impartially, and not
by the standard of any one of them, we shall see that the deficiencies
and limitations of most races are of much the same extent. If the
Egyptian had tried to render not only character, but emotion also, he
would have been defying his true conditions, as much as if we put a
dado of Persian glazed tiles on the Parthenon. To refer this artistic
perception to the uniformity of the Nile, is about as true as if
we attributed any deficiencies in German art or literature to the
prevalence of cold and snow, which is a far greater tyranny than the
inundation. Every physical circumstance is a factor in human work,
but none of them singly dominates it. There is no point in calling
the Egyptian childish in his abilities, as every other nation has
been equally childish in some other respects--the Roman in his abject
submission to omens, the Greek in playing with words, the Assyrian
in his inaccuracy, the Arab in his drawing. In short, there is no
essential difference in the capacity for showing national life and
feeling by the art of each country; and in the facility and truth of
expression Egypt stands in the first rank of those lands where Art has
exhibited the character of man.



INDEX


    Aah-hotep jewellery, 91, 92.

    Aahmes I, jewellery, 92.
      II, inlaid hawk-head, 103.

    Aahmes-si neit-rannu (fig. 9), 21.

    Abu Simbel, 28.

    Accuracy of work, 81, 82.

    Ainofer servant, 16.

    Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV), art of, 20, 53;
      sculpture, 41;
      relief, 53;
      death mask, 144.

    Alabaster sculpture, 25;
      vases, 78.

    Amenardys, statue of, 26, 44.

    Amenemhat, III, 39, 88.

    Amenhotep, I, 120.
      II, 26, 111, 129.
      III, 26, 28, 53, 111, 120, 129.
        official of, 41.
      IV, 26, 111, 120.

    Amethyst beads, 80, 86.

    Amulets of stone, 79.
      of glaze, 114.

    Animals, real and mythical, 49.

    Antef V, 119.

    Antimony used, 104.

    Arab art, 155.

    Arch avoided externally, 6.
      known early, 64.
      form of brick, 64.
      built without centring, 65.

    Architecture, 62-68.

    Armlets of flint, 81. _See_ Bangles.

    Art belongs to country, 1, 2, 152.
      absent from copying, 2, 53.
      conditions in Egypt, 2.

    Art dominated by strong light, 3.
      accepted strong contrasts, 4.
      ruled by level and vertical lines, 5.
      analysis by Tolstoy, 7.
      expression of character, 7-10, 19.
      truth of Egyptian, 9.
      greatest under pyramid kings, 16, 17.
      rapidity of development, 17, 51.
      decay of, 18.
      of character and of emotion, 19.
      of different peoples, 153-156.

    Asiatic conquests influence art, 19.

    Assyria, art of, 154.

    Aswan, school of, 27.

    Axe of Aahmes, 92.


    Baboon, ivory, 136.

    Bak-en-khonsu, head of, 44.

    Bangles, 94. _See_ Bracelets, Armlets.

    Basalt, green, sculpture in, 24, 40.
      black, for building, 70.

    Basalt, used for vases, 78.

    Beads, materials of, 80.
      gold, 84.
        open-work, 94.
      glazed, 119.
      glass, 121, 125.

    Bee amulet, 80.

    Blue, manufacture of, 117.
      paint on vases, 129.

    Bracelets of Zer, 84.
      of Aah-hotep, 92.
      of Ramessu II, 93.
      silver, 93.
      gold, 95.
      Coptic, 95.

    Brick building, sloping inward, 62.

    Bronze, use of, 100, 101.
      origin of, 101.

    Building transport, 74.

    Bull hunt, 54.

    Bull trampling on enemy, 14.

    Bull’s head amulet, 79.

    Bushman type, 29.

    Button seals, 86.


    Canon of drawing figures, 50.

    Capitals, early forms of, 67.

    Captives, influence on art, 19.

    Casting of gold, 85, 89.
      of bronze, 101.
      in plaster, 144.

    Ceiling pattern, 58.

    Celtic art, 157.

    Chains, patterns of, 86, 91.

    Character in art, 8, 9, 19.

    Chinese art, 156.

    Civil service, organizing, 16.

    Claw amulet, 79.

    Cleopatra Cocce (Ptolemaic), 21.

    Cloison inlaying, 87-89, 93, 95.

    Cobalt colour of glaze, 118.

    Colossi, raising of, 77.
      weight of, 26.

    Colours, making of, 117.

    Columns, palm, lotus, polygonal, 67.

    Comparative art, 152.

    Conditions of Egyptian art, 2-5.

    Conquest of Egypt by artistic race, 14.

    Constantine, pottery of, 129, 131.

    Contrasts of desert and cultivation, 4.

    Conventions absent in early art, 15, 35, 36.

    Copper, colours from, 116-118.

    Copper work, 98-100.

    Coptic pottery, painted, 130.
      tapestry, 148.

    Copying, a degradation, 2, 17, 20, 21.

    Cornice, origin of, 63.

    Crete, art of, 153.

    Crocodile amulet, 79.

    Crowns of XIIth Dynasty, 88.

    Cumaean glass, 121.


    Daggers of Aahmes, 92.

    Degradation of art, 17, 20, 51.

    Deir el Bahri, 5, 52.

    Desert, contrasts of, 4.
      art in Eastern, 25, 39.

    Detail, treatment of, 18.

    Diorite, sculpture in, 24, 34, 70, 78.

    Divisions, political and artistic, v.

    Drawing, 58-61.

    Dressing stone faces, 71, 72.

    Drills, tubular, 72.
      flint, 79.

    Dynastic new art, 14, 30.

    Dynasty I, 14, 49, 84-86, 108, 126, 135, 147.
      II, 32.
      IV, 16, 50, 129, 135.
      V, 67, 127, 131, 140.
      VI, 17, 86, 109, 131.
      XI, 17, 51.
      XII, 18, 26, 27, 36, 52, 87, 110, 127, 129, 131, 136.
      XVIII, 19, 26, 27, 40, 52, 91, 110, 120, 128, 129, 131, 139, 140,
          143, 144, 148.
      XIX, 20, 27, 53, 92-94, 113, 128, 129, 131.
      XX, 21, 54.
      XXIII, 94, 113, 121.
      XXVI, 21, 54, 113, 128, 131, 136.
      Ptolemaic, 21, 95, 115, 131.
      Roman, 22, 95, 115, 123, 131, 145.


    Earrings, 93, 94.
      Coptic, 95.

    Embroidery, 149.

    Emery, used for cutting, 72, 73.

    Emotional art, 19.

    Enamel, Roman, 94.

    Eye amulet, 80.

    Eyes inserted in copper frames, 33.
      relation to brow, 36, 40.
      gibbous and narrow, 37, 38.
      not detailed, 77, 145, 146.


    Fan bearer, figure of, 114.

    Figures, canon of drawing, 50.
      modelled in pottery, 132.

    Fish offerers, 39.

    Fist amulet, 80.

    Flask of bronze, 101.

    Flint drills, 79.
      working, 80.

    Floret crown, 88.

    Fluted metal vases, 101.

    Fly amulet, 79.

    Foil, impressed, 86, 90, 93, 94.

    Foreign influences on art, vi.

    Foundations, 74.

    Frog amulet, 79, 80.

    Furnaces for glazing, 117, 118.

    Furniture, 138, 139.


    Gates of temples, immense, 138.

    Gazelles of palm, 15, 49.

    Geese of Medum, 56.

    Gilding, 84, 96.

    Girl somersaulting, 59.

    Glass, 119, 125.
      earliest, 119.
      black and white, 120.
      varied colours, 120, 122.
      patterns on, 120.
      forms of vases, 121.
      beads, 121, 125.
      engraved, 121.
      mosaic, 122.
      blown, 123.
      weights, 123.
      manufacture of, 123-125.

    Glazed ware, 107-119.
      origin of, 107.
      two-coloured, 108.
      tiles, 108.
      tablets, 109.
      colours of, 109-115, 118.
      pendants, 112.
      architectural, 112.
      ushabtis, 113.
      figures, 114.
      late, 114, 115.
      body, 115.
      stone ware, 116.
      decomposition of, 116.
      manufacture of frit, 117.
      moulded, 118.
      inlay in wood, 140.

    Glazing on quartz, 107.
      on pottery, 108, 115.

    Gleaners, paintings of, 56, 57.

    Gold, sources of, 83.
      leaf, 84, 96.

    Gold casting, 85, 89.
      wire, 85, 86, 90.
      soldering, 85, 86, 90.
      base, 94.
      over plaster, 95.

    Granite, black, school of, 24.
      red, school of, 27.
      temple, 65.
      quarrying, 70, 71.
      sawn, 72.

    Granulated work, 90.

    Greek art, 154, 157.
      influence in Egypt, 47, 146.
      pottery figures, 132.


    Hammer dressing of stone, 74.

    Hand amulet, 80.

    Hand work on stone vases, 78.

    Harvest scenes, 56, 57.

    Hatshepsut, sculpture of, 52.

    Hawk amulet, 79.
      protecting king, 35.

    Heads modelled in plaster, 145, 146.

    Helwan quarries, 70.

    Hieroglyphs, cutting of, 74.

    Hor, statue of, 42, 139.

    Hyaena and bull relief, 14, 49.

    Hyksos type, so-called, 24, 37, 38.


    Indian art, 156.

    Inlaid metal, 92, 103.

    Iron, rare appearances of, 104.
      sources of, 105.
      tools, 106.
      cores for bronze, 102.

    Isiemkheb, tent of, 150.

    Isis, head of, 114.

    Italy, art of, 155.

    Ivory carving, prehistoric, 12, 134.
      Ist dynasty, 31, 32, 134.
      IVth dynasty, 135.
      XIIth dynasty, 136.
      XXVIth dynasty, 136.


    Jackal head amulet, 80.

    Japanese art, 156.

    Jewellery, 83-97.


    Ka-aper, 33.

    Kauat, princess, 51.

    Keft inlaying, 103.

    Kha-em-hat, tomb of, 20.

    Khafra, statue of, 34.
      accuracy of, 82.

    Khaker ornament, 64.

    Kha-sekhem, head of, 32.

    Khety, copper brazier of, 99.

    Khufu, organizing by, 16.
      figure of, 34, 135.
      accuracy of, 81.

    Koptos, colossi from, 30.


    Lazuli beads, 80, 85.
      inlaying, 88, 91.

    Lead used, 103.

    Leather the earliest clothing, 147.
      appliqué work, 149.
      slit network, 150.

    Lifting of stones, 75.

    Light, conditions of strong, 3.

    Limitations of national arts, 157.

    Limestone sculpture, school of, 25.
        earliest, 31.
      working in, 69.

    Linen, fineness of, 147.

    Lines level and vertical in Egypt, 5.

    Lion, figures of, 30, 39.
      amulet, 80.

    Literature compared with art, 7, 8.

    Looms, 148.

    Lotus capitals, 67.
      flower, ivory, 136.


    Manganese colour of glaze, 118.

    Mastaba tomb-chapels, 16, 50.

    Materials of sculpture, 23.

    Medieval European art, 155.

    Medinet Habu temple, 66.

    Memphis, head from, 46.

    Mendes bowls, 96.

    Menkaura, accuracy of, 82.

    Mentu-em-hat, head of, 46.

    Merenptah, 44.

    Mertitefs, queen, 32.

    Middle kingdom style, 17, 18.
      statuary, 36-40.

    Min, statues of, 30.

    Modelling in pottery, 132.

    Mosaics of glass, 122.

    Moulding by pressure, 90.

    Moulds for casting copper, 99, 100, 102.
      for glazed ware, 118.
      of plaster, 144, 145.

    Mykenaean style of inlays, 92.


    Narmer, 31, 49.

    National arts, 157.

    Naturalism of early art, 17.
      later, 20.

    Necklace fastening, 91, fig. 109, 93.

    Necklets of silver, 95.

    Negress statuette, 43.

    New Kingdom, 18-20.
      statuary, 40-45.

    Nofert, head of, 33.

    Nubian sandstone, 27, 69.


    Obelisks, raising of, 77.
      transport of, 77.

    Observation in early art, 15.

    Organization, system of social, 16.

    Ovens for glazing, 117.

    Oxherd, 51.

    Ox, sacrifice of, 51.


    Pafaabast statuette, 94.

    Painting on tombs, 19.
      earliest, 55.
      in New Kingdom, 56-60.
      light and shade, 59.

    Palettes of slate, 13.

    Palm capital, 67.
      scenery, 4.

    Palm-stick construction, 63.

    Papyrus structures, 64.
      capital, 67.

    Pectorals of Senusert II, 87;
      Senusert III, 87;
      Amenemhat III, 88;
      Ramessu II, 93.

    Pedubast, 140.

    Pelicans, painting of, 56.

    Pepy, copper statue of, 99.

    Periods of art, 11-21.

    Persian glazing, 155.

    Pewter, 104.

    Plaited wire chains, 91.

    Planes for testing faces, 72.

    Plaster, 142-146.
      in masonry, 142.
      coating statues, 143.
      modelling, 144-146.
      castings, 144.
      moulds, 144, 145.
      heads, 145, 146.
      oiled, 145.

    Political divisions different from artistic, v.

    Porphyry used for vases, 78.

    Portraiture, late, 22, 38.

    Pot metal, 103.

    Pottery, 126-133.
      forms, 126.
      decoration, 128.
      materials, 130.

    Pottery, modelling, 132.

    Prehistoric character of art, 12, 13.
      statuary, 29, 30.
      reliefs, 48.
      painting, 55.
      stone vases, 78.
      amulets, 79.

    Princesses, fresco, 58.

    Ptolemaic art, 21.

    Pyramid age, 15.
      sculpture, 32-36.

    Pyramids, accuracy of, 81, 82.


    Qualities of Egyptians, 8, 9.

    Quarrying, modes of, 70, 71.

    Quartzite sandstone school, 26, 41.


    Races, types of, 60.

    Ra-hesy, panel of, 50, _frontispiece_.

    Rameses II, 24, 25, 27, 44, 113.
      III, 54.
      XII, 94.

    Ramesseum arches, 64.

    Ranofer, statue of, 36.

    Reliefs, quality of, 18, 48.
      oldest, 48.
      pyramid age, 50.
      Middle Kingdom, 51.
      New Kingdom, 52.
      late, 54.
      sunk, 52.

    Rock cutting, 70, 71.

    Roll at corner of building, 63.

    Rome, art of, 157.


    Sacrifice of ox, 51.

    Sandstone, Nubian, 27.
      quartzite, 26.

    Sawing of hard stones, 72.

    Scaffolding of brick, 74.

    Scenery, influence of, 4, 5.

    Scenes dominate wall surfaces, 3.

    Schools of art, 22.

    Scribe, figure of, 35.

    Sculptors, training of, 17, 77.

    Sculpture dominated by architecture and conditions, 6.

    Seals of gold, 86.

    Senoferu, 16.

    Senusert I, 37, 53.
      II, 82, 87.
      III, 38, 39, 87.

    Serapeum pectoral, 92.

    Sety I, 53, 61, 113, 139.
      II, 93, 112.

    Shells of gold, 86, 91.

    Sheykh el Beled statue, 33.

    Ship, painting of, 55.
      building, 138.

    Shrines of palm sticks, 63.

    Silsileh sandstone, 27, 69.

    Silver, early, 96.
      historic, 96.
      bowls, 96.

    Slate palettes, 13, 49.

    Sleep, position in, 31.

    Social organization, 16.

    Soldering, 85, 86, 90, 103.

    Spear-head amulet, 79.

    Spinning metal bowls, 96.

    Statuary, painted, 8.
      local art, 23.
      earliest, 29.
      pyramid age, 32-36.
      Middle Kingdom, 36-40.
      New Kingdom, 40-45.
      late, 45-47.
      outlined and cut, 77.

    Steatopygous type, 29.

    Steel tools, 106.

    Stone buildings copied from brick, 62.
      copied from wooden, 62.

    Stone vases, 78.

    Stones, moving of, 74.

    Stucco on wood statues, 33, 44, 143.
      _See_ Plaster, modelling, 144.

    Study in limestone, earliest, 31.

    Syenite used for vases, 78.

    Syrian influence, 19, 66.


    Taharqa, head of, 44.

    Tahutmes I, 19.
      II, 40.
      III, 19, 40, 110, 120, 129.
      IV, 148, xvi, fig. 139.

    Takushet inlaid statue, 103.

    Tapestry, woven, 148.
      use of, on clothing, 149.

    Tausert, 94.

    Temple, circuit wall, 65.
      of Khafra, 65.
      of Medinet Habu, 66.
      of Dakkeh, 66.

    Tin, sources of, 100.
      used, 104.

    Tiryns, stone-sawing at, 73.

    Toilet tray figures, 43.

    Tolstoy’s analysis of art, 7.

    Tombs, early sculptured, 16.
      later painted, 19, 56.

    Tools of modern types, 106.

    Torus roll, origin of, 63.

    Training of artists, 17.

    Trichinopoly pattern chains, 91.

    Tubular drills, 72.

    Turin statue of Ramessu II, 44.

    Turquoise beads, 80, 85.

    Tut-ankh-amen, 42.


    Ushabtis of glazed ware, 113.
      of pottery, 132.


    Vases of bronze, 99, 101.
      of glass, 121, 124.
      of pottery, 127-133.
      of stone, prehistoric, 78.
        from Eastern desert, 25.


    Wall surfaces dominated by scenes, 3.

    Wax used for modelling, 89, 102.

    Weaving, fineness of, 147, 148.

    Wigs, prehistoric, 30.
      put on over hair, 33.

    Wire, 85, 86, 90.
      amulets, 90.
      plaited chains, 91.

    Wooden statues stuccoed, 33, 34.
      sculpture, 42.

    Woodwork, 137-141.
      early, 137.
      shipbuilding, 138.
      doors, 138.
      coffins, 138.
      furniture, 138, 139.
      statuettes, 43, 139.
      inlaid, 140.
      methods, 140.

    Writing, start of, 14.


    Youths’ and maids’ procession, 54.


    Zer, bracelet of, 84.
      linen of, 147.

    Zeser, glazed tiles of, 109.



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