Past Inspiration: Walk Like An Egyptian

Egypt

Back to the British Museum for another tour of the past. Today we’ll be meeting some exceptional characters from Ancient Egypt. Our first is my favourite…

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This lovely and somewhat fierce feline is a mystery. She may come from Saqqara, the necropolis of Memphis (Egypt’s one-time capital). One quirk of hers has only been discovered recently. Analysis revealed she was initially painted with a stripy tail.

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Another interesting character, with an unusually familiar name. Meet “Roy”, a Theban high-priest of the god Amun-Ra. What makes him stand out from the countless other statues of Egyptian men sitting with folded arms? For me, it was Roy’s stern expression. You can imagine he had a severe reputation in his time as high-priest.

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We all enjoy the sight of a good sphinx. Woman’s face, bird’s wings, lion’s body. This is a superb example, which came to Egypt via Greece. You can see the Classical Greek influences in her face and hairstyle. Perhaps the dead wife of a Greek trader, her likeness preserved in the two immortal figures which guard his tomb.

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This charming pair are the purrfect embodiment of how the Ancient Egyptians saw their spiritual world. The divine is intertwined with the natural. However, not being fond of subtlety, our Nile-dwelling friends opted to affix a cat’s head to their deities as a demonstration of this union. Let’s see if we can find something a little more subtle…

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No. Not even close. Down, kitty.

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This is exactly what I was looking for, walking through the BM in search of inspiration. Subtle, human, real. An honest person pulled out from another era. The simple style of the artist and look of intense concentration he creates. King Nectanebo I, his name alone deserves a story.

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Who is this figure who bids us farewell as our journey comes to an end? He’s not from Ancient Egypt, but belongs to its close neighbour. The Ethiopian Empire was both incredibly important in history and long-lived. But few people are aware of it, one of the last African nations to resist colonialism. A topic I wish to explore further and hope you feel the same.

The best inspiration comes from unexpected sources.

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