Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Ancient Egypt Transformed: The MIDDLE KINGDOM: Review by Polly Guerin

Relief with Senwosret, Dynasty 12, Senwosret I
The ancient sands of time unearths Egypt's historical legacy in remarkable carvings and statues in the exhibition, Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, which opened recently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
      Why does the Middle Kingdom matter to us? It sheds light on the great cultural flowering that lasted nearly 400 years. During the Middle kingdom (mid-Dynasty 11-Dynasty 13, around 2030-1650 B.C, artistic, cultural, religious, and political traditions first conceived and instituted during the Old Kingdom were revived and re- imagined.
    This transformational era is represent through 230 powerful and compelling masterpieces (individual objects and groups of objects) and ranging in size from monumental stone sculptures to delicate examples of jewelry.  The works of art are drawn from the preeminent collection of the of the Metropolitan, which is rich in Middle Kingdom material--and 37 museums and collection in North America and Europe. 
    This is the first comprehensive presentation of Middle Kingdom art and culture and features many objects that have never been shown in the United States.
Detail : Nemtihotep's statue
"The astonishing continuity of ancient Egyptian culture, with certain basic principles lasting for thousands of years, gives the impression of changelessness," said Adela Oppenheim, Curator of Egyptian Art. "But the works of art in the exhibition will show that ancient Egypt constantly evolved, and was remarkably flexible with a consistent framework. New ideas did not simply replace earlier notions; they were added to what had come before, creating a fascinating society of ever-increasing complexity."

     During the 12th Dynasty, the construction of pyramid complexes resumed, after a lapse of more than a century. Profound changes in the concept of kinship are also demonstrated through a series of royal statues that span several hundred years.
   Royal women were always closely connected to the pharaoh, as evidenced by the placement of their burials near those of the king. Although less is known about Middle Kingdom queens and princesses, some of the finest ancient Egyptian jewelry was produced for elite women of the time. Inscriptions and symbolic motifs endowed the jewelry with spiritual power and related to the roles these women played in supporting the kings as guarantors of divine order on earth. Calling all jewelry designers and art enthusiasts, it is interesting to note that a studio workshop on jewelry design will take place October 17 and 24. Register at www.metmuseum.org/artmaking. 
During the Middle Kingdom, the god Osiris gained importance as a funerary deity and, from then on, the deal at all levels of society became manifestation of the God. Because Osiris functioned as the ruler of the underworld certain symbols and regalia that had been the sole prerogative of the reigning king were appropriated for non-royal use: mummies sometimes had a uraeus on the brow (a stylized cobra usually seen on a pharaoh's crown), and a flail (a standard attribute to the pharaoh)( could be placed inside the coffin.

   the Middle Kingdom---the achievements of its artists, its religious beliefs, burial customs, and relationships with other lands in a large part stems from the Metropolitan Museum sponsorship of numerous excavations at Middle Kingdom sites. 
   Related events include a Sunday at the Met on October 25 and a one-day symposium on Friday, January 22, 2016.
   Ta Ta darlings!  I'm checking out the jewelry and the elite women of the Middle Kingdom. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc.gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click on the links in the left-hand column.


No comments:

Post a Comment