Human Form in Ancient Egypt and other Early Civilizations

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The prehistoric era, near the east, ancient Egypt, Aegean and Roman cultures had numerous concepts of portraying human figure in their arts. These concepts were distinct each from the other. The ritual and religious perceptions of images and sculptures was one among these distinctions. Among these cultures, place high value on the feminine body. The making of these arts were in sculptures, drawings, also paintings. Distinct colors were used to represent some features as gender and age. Right from the Stone Age, variant colors from charcoal and ochre were used for rituals. These rituals were further accompanied by music and dances. The early form of art indicates that the ancient people had a kind of modern man cognition, symbol activity and anatomy (Morriss-Kay).

The pre-historic period is the one that had significant development as it covers a substantial revolutionary period. For instance, the upper Paleolithic can be said to be the beginners of fine art. Their artists were capable of drawing, modeling, sculpture works, painting, and jewelry. Different illustration and patterns were used to mark various rituals accompanied by music and dances. Similar to other cultures that will be covered in this paper, the prehistoric period also produced sculptures of female figures. Their rock art included hard stencils and finger tracings. Human forms were presented in different materials such marble, techniques, beliefs, and notions of beauty. They were curved in natural material or painted using charcoal and ochre. This form of art identified the artists and their generations with different practices such as decorations, clothing, and modifications. Some practices that can be derived from such works of art include body tattooing and tooth filing (Prehistoric Art: Origins, Types, Characteristics, Chronology).

The Near East region comprised of different civilizations. They had some distinct artistic representation of the human body, but they were quite similar due to their interaction and closer proximity. Their portraits overemphasized on some body parts rather than the overall characteristics of a human being. This was seen in in varied sizes and figures of the paintings. For example, the head could be more visible, shoulders and chest face forward while hips, legs, and feet maintained a profiled view. They were more developed as compared to the pre-historic artists as they were believed to apply mathematical proportions to paint or carve different body parts. The Syrian shared their arts with the Sumerians. On the other hand, the Minoans’ portraits displayed sports and leisure activities more as compared to worship. The human body was real as different features such as folds and colors were used indicate age. For instance, red was used to indicate a male while yellow was used to indicate a female (Human Form in Art).

Egyptian human figure presentation is also quite significant. Egyptian artist was associated with architectural inventions as so did they embrace sculpture on a colossal scale. They made a sculpture of a human-lion hybrid on rocks. The human animal statues were placed in temples, palaces, and tombs. The sculptures were supported by the Egyptian Monarch which valued and treasured these sculptures. They were carved with cloth headdress and long false beards. Religious significance was observed where these statues were placed in tombs to represent the soul. A distinct feature of Egyptian figures had arms folded closer to the body and some parts that were presented in different perspectives and layouts. The tomb's interior was also decorated with images of the deceased engaging in their routine activities such as hunting or gathering (Egyptian Art).

The Aegean human figure presentation presented the Cycladic art of the early Bronze Age. Most of the figures were carved out of marble. They represented notable people in the society such as warriors, hunters, and the musicians. Similar to the other forms, there was a vast presentation of the feminine figures. The sculptures were very scenic and displayed sex details to signify productivity. They were scenic as they could be decorated by use of linear drawing and patterns. The stone carving art for the Cyclades was realized in their third millennium age. Notable advancement is the production of seated harp players and standing pipers in two or three complete forms. The figures expressed the religious concepts and multicolor decorations art (Human Form in Art).

Last but not the least is the Romans human figure artistic presentation. Their representation was entirely different as they did not perceive the body and mind as a whole. The associated nudity with sensations and therefore avoided it in their works of art. Their paintings and sculptures were dressed in clothing to prevent nudity display. Their art was age-sensitive, and in this matter, they associated age with wisdom and were highly valued. Human form paintings were made on walls for decoration purposes. They were also distinct as their art portrayed beautiful bodies. The sculptures and images depicted perfect and ideal shapes for both men and women. Because of the nature of their presentation, individuals were happy when they were compared to a particular sculpture (Pountney and Sun).

In conclusion, different culture exhibited some similarities and differences in their presentation of the human body. The performance was mainly achieved through drawing, painting, and carving. The female body has been observed to be significant in all the above civilizations. The feminine figures were at times portrayed as pregnant which proves the importance of fertility and productivity. Where male presentation was made, some parts were emphasized to portray strength and masculinity. The displays had religious significance for example where customarily sized sculptures were placed in Egyptian tombs to represent the souls. However, the drawings were made of primitive materials such as charcoal and ochre. The sculptures were also created by use of natural tools such as flakes which lowered their quality. The drawing and sculptures were made by a gifted person in the society, and these skills were inherited in a family lineage.

Works cited

"Egyptian Art." (n.d.). <http://www.essential-humanities.net/world-art/egyptian/>.

"Human Form in Art." (n.d.). 15 November 2017. <https://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/HumanForm.html>.

"Human Form in Art." The Ancient Near East: An Encyclopedia for Students, edited by

Ronald Wallenfels and Jack M. Sasson, vol. 2, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2000, pp.175-178. World History in Context, libraries.state.ma.us/login?gwurl=http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX2897300185/WHIC?u=mlin_m_highrock&xid=68b27d95. Accessed 15 Nov. 2017

Morriss-Kay, Gillian M. "The evolution of human artistic creativity." Journal of Anatomy 216.2 (2009): 158-176. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2815939/>.

Pountney, Michelle and Herald Sun. "The ideal human form as manufactured in ancient times as it is today, as shown in The Body Beautiful exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery." (2014). <http://www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts/the-ideal-human-form-as-manufactured-in-ancient-times-as-it-is-today-as-shown-in-the-body-beautiful-exhibition-at-bendigo-art-gallery/news-story/f54a725285265e5877c2aa90a5fe98f5>.

"Prehistoric Art: Origins, Types, Characteristics, Chronology." (n.d.). <http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/prehistoric-art.htm>.

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