Ceramic drums with central, bulging sounding chambers were made in southern Peru at the turn of the first millennium. Among the most elaborately finished are those of Nasca style. They were surfaced with the many rich colours commonly used on Nasca ceramic vessels. A favoured form was one in which a fat-bodied figure was worked into the shape of the instrument, the rotund body spreading out equally on all sides and the legs drawn up in the front. The figure is depicted atop the wide mouth of the drum, over which a skin would have been stretched. The image is symbolically complex; a snake emerges from under the figure’s chin and a killer whale outlines each eye. The killer whales are in profile and show the “two-tone” colour differentiation normally given them in Nasca depictions. A headband is wound around the head and tied to form a hornlike projection on the forehead. In back, the figure’s hair is shown as serpents with long tongues.
This unfinished stela from the Valley of the Kings depicts the barque of Amun-Re carried in procession. Below is a hymn to the god, recited by the scribe Amennakht, his son Pentwere, and the chief carpenter, Amenemope. The god was believed to give oracles during such processions by influencing the movements of the priests carrying the barque shrine. the coronation inscription on a statue in Turin, Italy , seems to indicate that such an oracle took place when the pharaoh Horemheb ascended to the throne.
This is the earliest and most complete known representation of an Attic wedding. The bridal couple with the best man behind them sit in a cart drawn by two donkeys. A mule cart with four guests follows. Other members of the procession are on foot. The woman in the lead holds two torches, indicating that the scene takes place at night. The procession heads toward the bridegroom’s house where a woman, probably the mother of the groom, awaits. The architecture of the house is carefully indicated; the white columns of the porch may be painted wood.
Attic grave monuments of the end of the sixth century B.C. tend to be simpler than their earlier counterparts. In particular, the sculpted finials in the form of sphinxes are replaced by palmettes that are integral with the shaft. The figures, moreover, may be painted instead of carved in relief. It is enlightening to compare a representation such as this with contemporary vase-painting. The light figure against a darker background is comparable to the red-figure technique in pottery. Indeed, the influence of painted sculpture has been adduced in precipitating the change from black-figure to red-figure.
This head once belonged to the statue of an unidentified female deity. The gender is suggested by the lack of a beard, and the simple hairstyle points to the divine status of the subject: mortal women wore elaborately curled wigs at the time this piece was carved. The complete statue represented the goddess seated or standing, either alone or as part of a group of two or more deities and possibly the king. The sculpture was carved from quartzite, a material in which, through the ages, Egyptian artists created their most sensitive portrayals of humans and gods.
Statue of Dionysos leaning on a female figure (Hope Dionysos)
c. 27 BC - AD 86
Augustan or Julio Claudian
The head is ancient but from another statue. Restorations by the eighteenth-century Italian sculptor Vincenzo Pacetti: (on Dionysos) ivy wreath, neck, both arms, lower right leg, calf and boot of left leg, hanging drapery on right side; (on the archaistic image) uplifted corner of drapery, both arms, lower half of lower legs, feet, pedestal, entire base.
Roman copy of Greek original. Adaptation of a Greek work of the 4th century B.C.
Dionysos, god of wine and divine intoxication, wears a panther skin over his short chiton and his high sandals with animal heads on the overhanging skin flaps. He stands beside an archaistic female image whose pose and dress imitate those of Greek statues carved in the sixth century B.C. It is difficult to know whether the original Greek bronze statue of Dionysos, of which this is a copy, included the female figure. Supports in the form of pillars, herms, and small statues were not uncommon in Classical art, but this figure may have been added to support the outstretched arm and may represent Spes, a Roman personification of Hope, who was commonly shown as an archaistic maiden.
King Amenhotep I, second ruler of Dynasty 18, made his own contributions toward the temple at Deir el-Bahri built by Mentuhotep II at the beginning of the Middle Kingdom. Most notably, he endowed the processional way, along which the god Amun’s image was carried once a year toward Mentuhotep’s sanctuary, with a row of mummiform (Osiride) statues of himself. These statues are remarkable not only for their imposing original height of more than 2.5 meters (9 feet) but also for the individuality of their faces. This fragment of a face with a fleshy nose and split chin comes from an example of the series that is especially artistically refined: a true portrait of an individual person who was king of Egypt. Like some others in the group, the head shows signs that it was damaged in antiquity and later repaired with the help of a dovetail dowel.
Gessoed boards were used for writing notes or school exercises. Like the slate writing tablets of yesteryear, they could be used repeatedly, with old texts being whitewashed to provide a “clean slate” for another. This board still bears traces of earlier writing (at left). The main text is a wordy model letter that the student copied—and surely also was expected to memorize. His many spelling mistakes have been corrected in red ink by the teacher.