An Egyptian Bestiary

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    Dorothea rnold

    THE METROPOLIT NMUSEUMOF RT

    n

    Egyptianestiary

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    The

    sobriquetMetropolitan

    Zoo might eapplied

    very

    ppropriately

    o the

    galleries

    f ourdepart-

    ment

    f Egyptianrt.

    Thousandsf

    birds,

    nimals,nd eptiles

    feath-

    ered,urred,

    nd caled from

    nte-

    lope o zebu,

    rom/6 incheso

    almost

    four eet, nmediarom

    labastero

    obsidianepresenthousands

    f years

    of Egyptian

    nimal rt.Throughout

    theMuseum'sollections,an'sela-

    tionship ith

    reaturess seldom

    o

    sensitivelyortrayed.

    Herbert .Winlock,

    hebrilliant

    Egyptologist

    nddirector

    f theMetro-

    politanrom

    932 to 939, wrote

    n a

    December923 Bulletin

    hatEgyptian

    * *

    * e

    artlsts

    eemeco en]oy

    Wrawlngnl-

    mals, aking

    farmorenterestn try-

    ing

    o drawuch ubjectshan

    n

    making

    heslavish opies

    heywere

    hired

    o produce, nd

    in heiroff

    times . . amused

    hemselvesketch-

    ing

    snatchesf lifeon

    flakes f the

    paper-white

    imestone

    hich ittered

    the ground.

    Winlock itedour

    horse

    (no.

    70) drawnubbing

    ismuzzle

    against

    is outstretchedoreleg

    s (in

    WinlocEs

    nderstanding)surely

    pure xperiment,

    orprobably

    o scene

    in thetombcontained

    nysuch ig-

    ure. Anda hippopotamusno.35),a

    quintessential

    gyptian

    east ndrel-

    ative

    of our mascot, illiam

    back

    cover), aught

    is eye: One

    of the

    mostcharming

    its hathave

    ver

    comeout of Egypt s

    on a flake f

    whitest imestone

    bout he bigness

    of thepalm

    of a man's and.

    Some

    templeculptor asbeen

    asked owhe

    woulddraw hippopotamus

    nd,

    picking p this

    lake,he hasportraye

    a sedate east

    f a purplish rown

    ue

    withpinkeyes

    andbellyand

    an enor-

    mous

    owl ndicated

    itha fewswift

    strokes

    f black.Weshare is

    delight

    The eader

    f this

    Bulletin safari

    is Dorothea rnold,

    uratorn charge

    of the

    Egyptian rt

    Department,

    whose

    ascinationorthesubject

    s

    clearly vident

    n her nspired

    ext.To

    ensure

    oologicalccuracy,

    hecalled

    uponJamesG. Doherty, eneralura

    tor

    of mammalst the

    WildlifeCon-

    servationociety.

    Wehope hat

    heir

    effortswill enhance our

    enjoyment

    of all

    the Egyptianreatures

    atarge

    in ourgalleries.

    Philippe

    e Montebello

    Director

    The

    MetropolitanMuseum

    fArt Bulletin

    Spring

    995

    VolumeLII,Number

    (ISSN026-I52I)

    PublisheduarterlyC)

    995

    byTheMetropolitanuseumf Art,

    OOO

    FifthAvenue, ewYork, .Y.

    0028-OI98.

    Second-classostage aidat New

    York, .Y.,and

    AdditionalMailing

    Offices.The

    MetropolitanMuseum

    fArt Bulletin s providedsa benefit

    o Museummembers

    nd s availabley

    subscription.

    ubscriptions

    25.00 a year. ingle

    opies8.95. Fourweeks' otice

    equiredorchange

    f address.OSTMASTER:

    endaddress

    changes

    o Membership

    epartment,he Metropolitan

    useum f Art,

    OOO FifthAvenue, ew

    York, .Y.

    0028-OI98. Back ssues vailable

    n

    microfilmrom

    UniversityMicrofilms,00N.

    ZeebRoad,AnnArbor,

    Mich.

    8I06.

    Volumes

    -XEVII

    (I905-I942) availablesdothbound

    eprintet

    or as ndividual

    early olumesrom

    AyerCompanyublishers

    nc., 0 Northwestern

    rive Io, Salem,N.H.

    03079, or from he

    Museum, ox 00,

    Middle

    Village, .Y. I379.

    GeneralManagerf

    Publicatzons:ohn P.O'Neill.

    Editorn Chiefof

    he

    BULLETIN:

    oanHolt.

    Associate ditor:Tonia

    .

    Payne

    Production:Matthew imm

    ndJayReingold.

    esign:Michaelhroyer.

    llphotographs,

    nless therwiseoted, yThe

    Photographtudio f

    The

    Metropolitan

    useum fArt.Newphotography

    yJosephCoscia

    r.Additionalhotographs

    g3 ruceWhite:

    ront over,itlepage,pages

    7, 44, 6I

    (hawk etail), 4.

    Front over:Gazelle,Dynasty

    8, ca. 400

    B.C.

    See

    pagesO-II.

    Title age:Flying alcon.Hermopolis

    agna, tolemaic eriod,

    304-30

    B.C.Polychrome

    aiencenlay; . 1%8 in.

    (zg cm).Purchase,dward .

    Harkness ift,

    9Z6 (Z6.7.991).

    Page

    i4:

    Hounds ndJackals

    ame.

    Thebes,

    omb2SX irabi,

    ateDynasty

    2,

    ca.

    800 B.C. Ivory nd

    wood;h. 2/2 in. (6.3cm).Purchase,

    dward . Harkness

    ift,926

    (26.7.I287). Back

    cover:Hippopotamus. eir,

    Dynasty

    2,

    ca.

    900-I800

    B.C.

    Faience;

    .43/8n. II.2 cm).

    Giftof Edward. Harkness,

    9I7 (I7.9.I)

    Director s

    o t e

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    existence

    iththegods,

    and hrough

    themcontact

    ouldbe

    madewiththe

    , . .

    elvlne.

    Oneway o express

    everence

    f the

    divine

    n animals

    as hrough

    he use

    of

    animalmages

    n artandreligion.

    New

    Kingdom ymn

    exclaims:

    Hail oyou,Atenof daytime,

    Creatorf all,

    whomakes hem

    ive

    Great alcon,

    rightly lumed.

    Beetlewhoraised

    imself.

    In this ext he

    characterf thesolar

    deity

    s described

    irst hrough ssoci-

    ationwith

    a brightly olored

    alcon

    who triumphantly

    oars

    nto the sky,

    then

    by identificationith

    a scarab

    beetlewho

    crawls n thefertile

    arth

    pushingtsmysteriousungball,

    which

    s the shape

    f the sundisk.

    n

    eachcase

    he mage alls

    on common

    human

    bservation

    f andexperience

    with

    a particular

    nimal nd hereby

    evokes

    he propertiesf

    a deity.

    It is important

    o realizehat

    o

    Egyptians,

    hese

    magesweremore

    thanpurely

    oeticmetaphors,

    nd he

    same s true

    or he pictorial

    epresen-

    tations fthegod

    Horus sa falcon

    r

    the

    rising unasa beetle.

    mages, c-

    cordingo

    Egyptian elief,

    were nti-

    ties

    with ivesof

    theirown,and he

    picture

    f a falcon,

    beetle, r

    other

    animal otonlydescribedhegodbut

    could tand

    n for he

    deityas a vis-

    ibleand angible

    manifestation

    f the

    invisible

    nd ntangible.

    his

    under-

    standing

    f images

    s closely elated

    to

    magic.Animals,ndeed,

    layed

    great ole

    n Egyptianhaumaturgy,

    andmany mulets

    ndmagical

    bjects

    usedanimal

    magery.

    The perceived

    ubstantialityf

    divineanimal

    mages otwithstand-

    ing,no Egyptianhought hat he sun

    god

    actuallyooked

    ikea falcon

    r

    beetle,

    ndevery

    worshipernew hat

    no single

    mage onveyedhe

    totality

    of

    a deity.This s

    why n texts uchas

    the

    one quoted

    bove he mages

    hift

    fromone

    animalO another,nd

    n

    * .

    .

    .

    plctorlalrta delty

    canappear

    n a

    single

    ontext n

    the formofvarious

    animals

    r as the

    sameanimaln dif-

    ferent

    oses.

    The knowledgehat

    no one mage

    can

    ullyrepresenthe

    essence f a

    deityalso

    contributed

    o thatmost

    puzzling

    reation f Egyptian

    rt, he

    godwitha human odyandananima

    head

    nos.

    4, 28). Again,Egyptians

    unquestionably

    id not

    think hatany

    of theirdeities

    wereactuallyormed

    that

    way.The images

    re onceptual

    and

    shouldbe "read"art

    by part,

    like

    hieroglyphic

    cript.The human

    body

    nformsheviewer

    hatno ordi-

    naryanimal

    s depicted,

    nd he

    animal ead

    ignalshe

    superhuman

    properties

    f the

    deity. t is solelydue

    to the Egyptianrtists'maginative

    abilities

    hat uch heoretically

    on-

    ceivedpictograms

    ecame

    onvincin

    creaturesf a third

    kind.

    Egyptian

    epresentations

    ifferen-

    tiateclearly

    etween he

    combined

    human-and-animal

    mage f

    a god

    and

    depictions

    f persons earing

    Fig.

    1. A scribe otes he spoils

    of thehunt.

    Drawing ftera

    paintingn the tombof

    Rekhmiret Thebes,

    Dynasty8,

    ca. 425 B.C.

    FromNorman

    e GarisDavies,

    TheTombf

    Rekh-mi-Ret Thebes,

    ublicationsf The

    Metropolitan useum

    f Art

    Egyptian

    xpedition,

    ol. I (NewYork,

    943), pL 44

    4

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    Fig.2. Hieroglyphicigndepicting ramanddesignatinghe

    syllable hnumn the nameof the tombow

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