Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Egyptian: Pharoah Akhenaten and his family adoring the Aten

 Pharoah Akhenaton and his family adoring the Aten , Amarna style

Pharaoh Akhenaton, or Amenhotep IV, ruled during the 18th dynasty and became to be known as one of the most revolutionary pharaohs in Egypt's history, he not only introduced a new artistic style known as Amarna art which lasted only for the time that he was pharaoh but also introduced a new religion known as Atenism. At the beginning of his reign, he ordered that all of the temples were destroyed and demanded that only Aton or Aten would be worshiped, this was a drastic switch from polytheism to monotheism, Aton, the sun disks was the only one to be worship, and Akhenaton declared himself as the son and only prophet of Aton.

According to Atenism, Aton was both male and female and just like the son that sheds light and provides life, energy and growth to everything single living thing that is touched by it, so did Aton, he was the provided of warmth, light and growth to Egypt. In the art of Amarna period, Aton is always portrayed as a disk emitting rays that end on a hand shape. The style of this relief if very common of the Amarna period, the shapes still reflect that twisted perspective of the earlier times, where the torso would be frontal and the legs and arms on profile view, but the bodies and are no longer idealized figures, instead, wide hips are emphasized on the Pharaoh and his family members as well as a large saggy stomach, still their clothing is elaborated and so are their head pieces as to remind the viewer that these people are royalty and important figures, this relief , also as the stele of Ur-nammu , shows a mortal ruler interacting with the gods or the main deity of the time and place. In this stele pharaoh and his family receive the rays of Aton, as if they were receiving his grace and approval on the decisions pharaoh does. I believe its interesting that two different civilizations such as the Sumerians and the Egyptians, in this case, knew the importance of portraying their rulers interacting with deity, that not only tell the people that they were called by the gods but that they themselves were supposed to be seem somehow as the gods and respected as such.