Art of Egypt – The Middle Kingdom
Artistic brilliance, innovation, and ingenuity are some of the many ways to describe the splendor of Egyptian Art. The art of Egypt goes a long way in reaffirming the religious faith of the civilization and its firm belief in life after death. The 'Middle Kingdom' ruled between the period of 2040 BC & 1640 BC, and marked the beginning of the Eleventh dynamy & the end of the Fourteenth.
The Art of Egypt in the Middle Kingdom featured meticulously painted works that focused on portraying completeness, rather than focusing on the beauty. These paintings carried a standard format for depicting human beings and their natural surroundings. This style was continuously followed through the various Egyptian dynasties. Egypt had a profound influence of its Gods, Goddesses, and the Pharaohs. Most of the paintings depicted some kind of physical activity, such as bow hunting, musicians playing music, or a simple painting of the queen in her mansion.
One of the major discoveries that throw some light on the art of 'Middle Kingdom' is the 'Book of Dead.' This book consists of paintings, which illustrate a funeral, depicting Anubis (the god of embalming), the coffin containing the body of the Deceased, and the women mourners. This painting tries to underscore the concept of life after death and the significance of spirituality after death. Hieroglyphics was another innovative form of the art of Egypt. Here, the combinations of symbols were used to represent the meanings of a sentence. Each of the symbols represented a different meaning, like the Sky God (Horus) was represented by a Falcon's Head; the God of Funerals (Anubis) was represented by a jackal, and so on. The use of Hieroglyphics is the evidence of a significant place that art held in the day-to-day life of the Egyptians.
The coffins for the dead also carried the symbolic delineation of the life after death. Most of the paintings in the Royal Tombs illustrated a woman adorned with a falcon emblem facing westwards, since the west direction was considered the passage to the next world after death. At the foot of the coffin, the God of funerals, Anubis was depicted in the form of two black jackals.
Egyptian Art of the Middle Kingdom still enthralls the audience by its sheer mystery and artistic brilliance. The Middle Kingdom Art focused primarily on the portrait sculptures of Pharaohs, tomb structures, and reliefs painted thereon. Some of the most celebrated works of those times were Slaves Feeding Oryxes and Cat Stalking Prey in the Tomb of Khnemu-hetep. The sculptures, tombs, and carvings, as they stand today, are valued as the priceless treasures of the glorious past of the Egyptian Civilization.