I spent most of the day at the famous Egyptian antiquities museum just off Tahrir Square. After about 5.5 hours of non-stop walking through the museum I managed to scratch the surface.
The picture above is an unfinished portrait of Queen Nefertiti. A very similar one, finished, can be seen in the Egyptian collection in Berlin. It is most definitely the same face. People mistakenly characterize Egyptian art as "stylized" or idealized. But this is not the case with the real portraits, such as in the photos above, or the last photo in the post.
Even the animals have specific and unique expressions. I was stunned to see that the lion heads on the funerary bed of King Tutankhamun had expressions of grief and eyes that looked to the horizon, while the lion heads on his throne stared fixedly ahead with expressions of power and strength.
The museum contains more than just sculptures. There are endless rooms filled with all the miscellany of everyday life, sandles, linen shawls, jewelry, tools...
I hope some of you who read this will go there and experience it for yourself. For me it was a revelation. In a glass case was a necklace made of semi-precious stones and gold beads. The gold beads were shaped in the form of pumpkin seeds. Next to this necklace was a silver cup in the form of a pomegranate. I looked at these exquisite reproductions of nature in precious metals and suddenly felt I understood something about what they were trying to do. All of matter, in all its seemingly infinite forms, is comprised of just a few basic elements. But somehow, there is an ordering force that brings these elements together in varying forms with varying qualities. The pumpkin seed, containing within itself the ability to reproduce, to nourish and to create dozens more new seeds ... the pomegranate filled with sweet juice and yet again the seeds of its own reproduction ... What is the mysterious force that orders the same basic elements into a myriad of forms, each with its own qualities, the pumpkin seed, the pomegranate, Horus the hawk, Anubis the jackal, Bastet the cat? If we could somehow reproduce the forms, would we perhaps be able to capture inside those forms the essential ordering nature? Would we be able to bring that ordering force to work in our own lives?