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Museum Paper: Critical Review of the Seated Statue of Hatshepsut

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“Art is something that makes you breathe with different kind of happiness”. Art has been a part of our life for as long as humanity has existed. For thousands of years, people have been creating, looking at, criticizing, and enjoying art. During my trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I observed many interesting paintings, sculptures, and artifacts. The three exhibits I had to choose to for my report were (the Seated Statue of Hatshepsut), (Image with the Crucifixion), and (Mihrab). After seeing these artworks, I realize that art needs lots of creativity and it is important for our society. Art has existed for many years in our society. We have seen paintings in caves and rocks. However, many of us don’t take art very seriously. We think it’s something that anyone can do. But art needs lots of creativity and it is important for society’s beliefs and preserving their culture.

There are different types of language around the world. You might not understand a language where art is a universal form of communication. Everyone can understand it. With art, you can share your ideas and thoughts with other people. It talks about culture and society. When we look at the paintings made in caves and rocks by the ancient people, it gives us an idea about their culture. So, art is a form of preserving culture. Also, it attracts tourism where people love to visit many places to see artworks.

Ancient Egypt, one of the first complex art in history, is home to numerous innovative artwork such as the famous Great Pyramids of Giza, a complex writing system composed of hieroglyphic characters, and many well-preserved rulers through the process of mummification. In the Egyptian context, the title given to these rulers is the King of Egypt or the pharaoh. The pharaoh was the authority figure within the Egyptian society, who played an active role in order, law, morality, and justice in ancient Egypt. More specifically, scholars have classified this position within ancient Egyptian society as primarily male-dominated after the analysis of Egyptian artwork. It seems strange to think that Queen Hatshepsut- the first female pharaoh of ancient Egypt saved from many years. “Queen Hatshepsut reined Ancient Egypt between the years of 1479-1458 BCE, a reign that about two decades” (Keller).

The Seated Statue of Hatshepsut shows an idealized, strong image that shows the strength of the female ruler from ancient Egypt. Since she was the female ruler to grace Egypt, she had to create an image that depicted herself as a ruler whom chosen by the god to take right decisions for her people. Also, to show them that she was going to be there for them and to guide them. After observed this statue I see, her almond-shaped eyes give off a look of confidence and self-reliance, are both expressed from the posture of Hatshepsut’s face. As she was the first of her kind as a female pharaoh, she had to prove herself in a manner of ways.

In the Seated Statue of Hatshepsut, the viewer can easily see that Hatshepsut has chosen to herself more like a man. Queen Hatshepsut looks a bit abnormal at first as it combines the physical aspects of both the male and female genders. At first, when I see her in my class, I assumed this is a sculpture of a man pharaoh. She is made by granite, she wears royal attire which includes a headdress, fake beard, and kilt. I find this statue incredibly beautiful and delicate.

A mihrab is made for religious purposes and marks the wall that Muslims face to pray towards Mecca. Mihrabs have grown in importance over the years in Islam. “The mihrab became a significant part of all mosques, suggesting that they represent the location where the prophet, Muhammad would lead the prayer” (James). It is the place where Muslim imam or scholars leading five times daily prayer in the mosque.

In the museum, I observed, the mihrab is made by mosaic from ceramic tiles, whole structure is angular shaped. Also, if you view it closely then you will see it is geometrically designed with Arabic words from holly Quran. Also, dynamic designs ornament with words from Quran includes in mihrab which serves religious purposes too. Geometric patterns such as polygons or stars adorn in mihrab with linear patterns and calligraphy. The calligraphy is Quranic verses or devotions to God and is the path of how God’s word reaches the people. A human picture is not allowed in Muslim prayer place so there is no depiction in mihrab. Although this mihrab was originally from Isfahan, Iran. The outermost border contains a verse from the Quran which means; There is no god but He, -the living, the Self-Subsisting, Eternal. The niche border has a hadith about the five pillars of the Islamic faith while the middle portion says that all who believe in one God are welcome.

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The word icon (from the Greek eikon, or image) signifies a holy image that provides a conduit from the worshipper to Christ, his mother Mary, or other saints. The Byzantines accorded icons extraordinary, even miraculous powers to answer prayers, heal the sick, and provide protection. This is one of the most important icons that survive from Byzantium’s dark ages. Images of the Crucifixion were central in the debates about how Christ could be represented and venerated in Christian imagery. In the icon we see Christ crucified with his eyes closed which probably signifies he is dead, or more specifically, that his human body is dead.

In the museum, I saw, that the piece is Byzantine style and is made of ivory. “The Icon with the Crucifixion is left with no specific name because it is a broken remaining from a triptych from the mid-10th century” (John). The piece is very small, around only 15.1 x 8.9 x 0.8 cm. The piece depicts Christ slumped on the cross in a lifeless form. Additionally, John and Mary are on either side of the cross mourning the loss of Jesus. Below him, there are roman soldiers playing for Christ’s royal robe now that he is dead. At the bottom of the icon, there is a man depicted as Hades with the cross piercing his stomach. Hades is the ruler of the underworld which shows the triumph of Christ over sins and death as he stabs the underworld with his deathbed. There is incredible detail in the carving of these pieces although the figures and their clothing are very stylized. This piece is effective in portraying frustration with the Romans as well as pity and respect for the lord and savior.

The world of art is a bridge, that connects and interacts with many aspects of the world and the lives of others very effectively. As man evolved over the centuries, his views of art have also transformed. Each culture and era presents very distinct characteristics of their art. Most art I believe readily fits into the category of reflecting the culture or religion of its time. As we seen these three artworks have different cultural and religious values. This is what makes artwork so interesting. After reviewing three beautiful artworks from different culture I realized that art reaches into the eyes, the heart, and the soul of a human.

Works Cited

  1. Haldon, John. “Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era c. 680–850: A History”. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Web. 8 Jan 2011.
  2. Dickie, James. “Allah and Eternity: Mosques, Madrasas and Tombs “. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc. Web. 17 Aug 2014.
  3. Cathleen, Keller. “Hatshepsut, from Queen to Pharaoh”. New Haven: Yale University Press, 200. Web. 6 Oct 2004.

After seeing these artworks, I realize that art needs lots of creativity and it is important for our society. Art has existed for many years in our society. We have seen paintings in caves and rocks. However, many of us don’t take art very seriously. We think it’s something anyone can do. But art needs lots of creativity and it is important for society’s beliefs and preserving their culture.

Islamic decoration

Islamic art mostly avoids figurative images to avoid becoming objects of worship.[1][2] This aniconism in Islamic culture caused artists to explore non-figural art and created a general aesthetic shift toward mathematically-based decoration.[3] The Islamic geometric patterns are derived from simpler designs used in earlier cultures: Greek, Roman, and Sasanian. They are one of three forms of Islamic decoration, the others being the arabesque based on curving and branching plant forms and Islamic calligraphy; all three are frequently used together.[4] Geometric designs and arabesques are forms of Islamic interlace patterns.[5]

Purpose

Authors such as Keith Critchlow[a] argue that Islamic patterns are created to lead the viewer to an understanding of the underlying reality, rather than being mere decoration, as writers interested only in patterns sometimes imply.[6][7] In Islamic culture, the patterns are believed to be the bridge to the spiritual realm, the instrument to purify the mind and the soul.[8] David Wade[b] states that ‘Much of the art of Islam, whether in architecture, ceramics, textiles or books, is the art of decoration – which is to say, of transformation.'[9] Wade argues that the aim is to transfigure, turning mosques ‘into lightness and pattern’, while ‘the decorated pages of a Qur’an can become windows onto the infinite.'[9] Against this, Doris Behrens-Abouseif[c] states in her book Beauty in Arabic Culture that a ‘major difference’ between the philosophical thinking of Medieval Europe and the Islamic world is exactly that the concepts of the good and the beautiful are separated in Arabic culture. She argues that beauty, whether in poetry or in the visual arts, was enjoyed ‘for its own sake, without commitment to religious or moral criteria’

A mihrab is made for religious purposes and marks the wall that Muslims face to pray towards Mecca. Mihrabs have grown in importance over the years in Islam. The mihrab became a significant part of all mosques, suggesting that they represent the location where the prophet, Muhammad would lead the prayer. (Gabar, 1973, p.121). It is the place where Muslim imam or scholars leading five times daily prayer in the mosque.

In the museum, I observed, the mihrab is made by mosaic from ceramic tiles, whole structure is angular shaped. Also, if you view closely then you will see it is geometrically designed with Arabic words from holly Quran

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Museum Paper: Critical Review of the Seated Statue of Hatshepsut. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 4, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/museum-paper-critical-review-of-the-seated-statue-of-hatshepsut/
“Museum Paper: Critical Review of the Seated Statue of Hatshepsut.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/museum-paper-critical-review-of-the-seated-statue-of-hatshepsut/
Museum Paper: Critical Review of the Seated Statue of Hatshepsut. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/museum-paper-critical-review-of-the-seated-statue-of-hatshepsut/> [Accessed 4 Feb. 2023].
Museum Paper: Critical Review of the Seated Statue of Hatshepsut [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Feb 4]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/museum-paper-critical-review-of-the-seated-statue-of-hatshepsut/
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