AR 300 Art History
Storytelling is a useful way of rendering cultural traditions, values, and beliefs of the world’s prominent society modes, such as Egyptian, Islamic, and Early Christian cultures. Representing different periods and geography of the human society’s history, storytelling keeps and shares the sacred knowledge about a culture’s history, science, lifestyle, and political trends (“Storytelling and Culture,” 2008).
Part A: Patterns of Early Egyptian, Christian, and Islamic Religious Art
Funerary Stela of Amenemhat, the glass panel Flight into Egypt, and Tile Mosaic Mihrab are the vivid patterns of ancient religious art.
Funerary Stela of Amenemhat
Funerary Stela of Amenemhat is a prominent sample of Egyptian culture. This society has greatly contributed to the word’s art history among the other cultures of peoples that inhabited the territory of the Mediterranean basin. Writing scripts depicted in a form of pictures and symbols or hieroglyphics are distinctive features of the Egyptian art achievements. The ancient masterpieces were designed as painting and stone carving. The majority of ancient Egyptian art works were found in the pharaohs’ tombs. In fact, they depict the scenes of afterlife. Therefore, experts refer these pieces of art to funerary branch of art. Egyptian art tends to be extremely symbolic and distinct from the real life events (“Ancient Egyptian Art”, n.d.).
Being created during the ruling of Amenemhat, Funerary Stela of Amenemhat dates back to the Middle Kingdom epoch. Similarly to many Egyptian religious paintings and carvings, this artwork has clear lines. It is made of painted limestone impressing the viewers with distinct colors, such as grey, white, brown, and black. Having the shape of a rectangle, it has 50 centimeters in width and 30 centimeters in height. Viewers can see 4 people on the stela. The two men are a father and son, Amenemhet and Antef. They are sitting cross-legged on the bed that is embellished with lion’s paws. The name Amenemhat canbe translated as “the god Amen is satisfied” (El-Shahawy & Atiya, 2005). This name was widely used in the Middle Kingdom. Moreover, 7 kings of Egypt had this name. A basket with a mirror is located under the bed. The 2 depicted women are the young man’s mother and sister. The men embrace each other demonstrating friendly emotions. Dark ochre color is the major in their depicting. The men are wearing short light shendit, emerald necklaces and bracelets. The father has a beard.
The young man’s mother is sitting behind him, embracing the son. Her colors are pale in comparison with the men’s depiction. The woman is in a light dress. One of her breasts is naked. The mother has an emerald necklace on her neck and bracelets. In fact, collars and bracelets decorate all the depicted persons. As for the second woman, her clothes are similar to her mother’s dress, being tight and revealing one of her breasts. The women are wearing straight wigs. A table with offerings comes between the woman and her father. There is meat and vegetables on the altar. Two loaves of bread are under the table with the offerings. The Funerary Stela of Amenemhat is decorated with hieroglyphic inscriptions that declare the names of the members of the family. Moreover, some funeral spells address Osiris, the Egyptian god of the dead, to give the deceased man the necessary goods in his existing (“Funerary Stella of Amenemhat,” 2008). The composition includes images of people and sacred inscriptions, combining the real life and myths.
Flight into Egypt
Flight into Egypt belongs to Gothic period as an example of the Early Christian society’s models of depicting stories. The plot of this piece of art suggests the viewers the story about Joseph’s dream where he was ordered to run with Mary and Jesus to Egypt, escaping from the wicked Herod. Flight into Egypt is a stained glass panel illustrating the story about the flight into Egypt from the Bible. It dates back to the period of 1140-11144 CE. Being made of pot metal glass with grisaille paint, the masterpiece is of approximately square shape, with 52 centimeters in height and 50 centimeters in width (McKnight Crosby, Hayward, Little & Wixom, 20139, p. 78). The work abounds in bright colors. The background of the artwork is red, though embraced with green and blue plants. Two people are riding a white horse. A little child symbolizes Jesus Christ. The child is wearing white and brown clothes. A woman, representing Maria, is holding the child. She is in dark green clothes denoting the nature. The blue color in her cloth stands for the clear sky. Joseph leads the horse. There are gentle colors in his cloth, such as yellow, blue, and green. The composition includes images of people, animals, and plants.
Tile Mosaic Mihrab
Mihrab is a prayer niche located in the qibla wall and pointing the direction to Meccathat dates back to Ilkhaid period. The artwork is designed with numerous polychrome-glazed cut tiles placed on the stone paste background. Numerous geometric and floral patterns and inscriptions are typical to the Islamic artworks. The inscription cites the sacred book, including sura and sayings of the Prophet. These writings are located at the bottom of the Mihrab and in the centre of it. Its size is about 343.1 centimeters in height and approximately 288.7 centimeters in width. The basic color blue and dark blue. The third major color is white. Light brown and black elements are exposed as well. It has the shape of the pointed arch. The composition of the artwork is rather specific. The unique status and beauty of Islamic decorations is based on the refusal to depict people and animals in the religious artworks. Unlike Egyptian and Early Christian religious masterpieces, Islamic religious messages are rendered by means of Arabic calligraphy, tiles, golden elements, and floral patterns. In fact, Islam forbids figurative art and any attempting to depict the Prophet Muhammad are widely rejected (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015).