Why is it that the depiction of the human form in two-dimensional Ancient Egyptian art appears so strange to modern eyes? At first glance, the artists of the time appear to have had only a limited grasp of human anatomy and their work seems to exhibit a lack of understanding of perspective. Neither observation is valid however, as is demonstrated by the artists ability to faithfully reproduce the human body accurately in three-dimensional statues.
The explanation for the apparent anomaly is that Egyptian artists had a well-defined convention concerning the representation of living beings in two dimensions. Each part of the body was painted in correct proportion to every other part, but the artist portrayed the view that most elegantly displayed each aspect of the body. When painting the face for example, the head was shown in profile with the forehead and brow clearly drawn and with the size and shape of the nose and chin well defined. The eye however was shown as if viewed from the front because the human eye is best viewed from that angle. This representation initially led to the idea that Ancient Egyptians may have had huge eyes on either side of their heads.
Following the same principle of showing each element of the body from the best angle, the upper torso from shoulder to waist was portrayed in front elevation, highlighting the breadth of the chest and the narrowness of the waist, but one nipple or one breast in the case of a female was shown in profile. This gave the impression that the individual carried a breast under her (or in the case of the Nile god Hapy, his) armpit. By turning the form through 90o at the waist, the hips, buttocks, legs and feet were shown in profile allowing the artist to either impart a sense of movement or the absence of it to the portrait. Hands were most often shown with all five digits in view and long fingers extended straight, even when by rights they should have been shown clasped. The twisted portrayal of the human form gave credence to the modern humorous characterisation of walking like and Egyptian.
For more info related to "walking Egyptian figures", go to http://www.historytimes.com/fresh-perspectives-in-history/pre-and-ancient-history/ancient-egypt/519-egyptian-art-part-2-
Photo taken in Neues Museum Berlin
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nicol_g (859) 2010-09-19 6:01
Haha, this is so well spotted and nicely realized, Deniz ! Bravo! I just keep wondering if the girl had faced the opposite direction, I mean miming the representations... :).
Beautiful b&w, loved the note.
Bluejeans (64251) 2010-09-19 7:41
Interessante imagem a preto e branco um bom contraste entre a mulher de fundo e a imagem do primeiro plano, gostei do momento ela olha para um lado e as imagens para outro , parabéns!!
Um abraço Gonçalo
veyselk (0) 2010-09-19 8:01
avrupalardan dönmüyon bu aralar, ne zaman dönecen Türkiye semalarına. bayanın haberi varmıydı durumdan bilmiyom ama kadraj güzel olmuş, sadece bayanın somurtkan duruşu hoş olmamış...
pauloog (11747) 2010-09-19 8:30
A photo with a touch of humour but also very interesting thanks to your fascinating note, one of the best I have encountered on this site. Buyt the photo as well is a good one, with fine detail and conttrasts.
hardyuno (4650) 2010-09-19 8:53
cool perspective. I think B&W was the right choice.
This museum is one of the best in Germany, I think. TFS
JFS (32459) 2010-09-19 8:54
Very good composition in B&W. You are right she looks like an Egyptian!
ymrk (15079) 2010-09-19 13:34
Ben de buna benzer Anıtkabir'de çekmiştim,erinmezsem WS ederim sana :P
Bir geliyorsun,pir de...Eksik olma Rigocan,görüşmek üzere...
tomescuc (3291) 2010-09-20 16:15
Funny, well-spotted, Deniz. How long did you have to wait for the right person to appear? ;-) Anyway, past and present are cleverly juxtaposed through that narrow entrance into our modern times.
Glint (6171) 2010-09-26 12:09
a well spotted opportunity very well realised.Inteesting note and because the figure in the doorway is in b&w she has a two dimensional look as well.I like this very much.
BennyV (16773) 2010-10-01 7:57
I thought I had applauded this before, but apparantly I haven't. Yet, this is a shot that really struck a chord here. The parallels between the woman and the stone figure are superb, the bl/w is superb and finely contrasted. But above all, this is a shot that says something. About our globalized world, for example. After all, this is a Japanese woman admiring Egyptian art in Germany. With a reference to an American song. Picture taken by a man from Turkey, and much admired by this Belgian guy here.
nszeretlek (1199) 2010-10-11 6:56
Very funny the title chosen and too acute the POV and idea for this picture ...The black and white election is a great choice though
Best wishes Deniz ,
bmukherjee (1512) 2010-11-01 19:49
A very amusing juxtaposition of the famous aphorism, these egyptian figures, and the lady of asian origin. It's a very modernist medley that makes good use of the black and white composition. Excellent DOF and exposure!
Overall, a very interesting photograph!
- Copyright: Deniz Taskin (rigoletto) (34279)
- Genre: People
- Medium: Black & White
- Date Taken: 2010-09-10
- Categories: Humorous, Architecture, Artwork, Ruins
- Camera: Canon EOS 400D, Canon 18-55 mm
- Exposure: f/5.0, 1/40 seconds
- More Photo Info: view
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Date Submitted: 2010-09-19 5:34