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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

Egyptian Art                            95
f Cheops. The heads bear witness to the skill of the sculptors
i achieving a likeness, while the statues of the same persons
/hich were destined for the inner shrine display a more stylized
echnique.
§ v. A Pictured, World,
I know well from repeated experience that one of the greatest
urprises which Egypt holds for the appreciative visitor is the
udden revelation of the bas-reliefs in the tombs of the Old
kingdom (Figs. 4 and 5). The mastabas of Ti, Mera, and Ptah-
lotep are enough in themselves to provide a faithful picture of
Egyptian life as it was more than 50 centuries ago. The most
striking fact is that the Egypt depicted is not that of the gods,
the kings, or even the great aristocrats. The last-named figure
here, it is true, but mainly as spectators. The actors in the
scene are the lesser folk—peasants, hunters, fishermen, crafts-
men of all kinds, boatmen, and household servants, shown
crowding eagerly towards their lord's tomb to furnish it with
all the things necessary to make it, in every sense, a dwelling
for eternity.
Using a few main themes, but with almost endless ingenuity
in their composition, the artists have also depicted the Egyptian
landscape in its most characteristic aspects—the river, its boats
and barges, the lakes and canals with their flowers and bird life;
the desert, where every variety of wild animal is being hunted.
Each scene gives the artist an opportunity of rendering different
zoological types with astonishing accuracy, and of marking the
line of movement characteristic of each species. The human
figures are equally successful, whether it is the free attitudes of
the dancer, the hunter, or the warrior, that the artist has wished
to express, or the characteristic outline of a country yokel or a
cripple that he desires to emphasize. Moreover these truthful
and sometimes humorous sketches are accompanied by brief
sentences which give, in their original pungency, the conversation