Symbol and Magic in Egyptian Art

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There is scarcely an Egyptian temple, pyramid, obelisk, wall painting or sculpture that does not possess some hidden meaning - a meaning which can only be understood by reference to the fundamental symbolic code used by the ancient Egyptians. Symbol and Magic in Egyptian Art reveals the language of this ancient code, which endured for thousands of years. Its formulae include the symbolism of shape and size, in which animals could represent kings, and amulets such as the cowrie shell became potent embodiments of ...
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Overview

There is scarcely an Egyptian temple, pyramid, obelisk, wall painting or sculpture that does not possess some hidden meaning - a meaning which can only be understood by reference to the fundamental symbolic code used by the ancient Egyptians. Symbol and Magic in Egyptian Art reveals the language of this ancient code, which endured for thousands of years. Its formulae include the symbolism of shape and size, in which animals could represent kings, and amulets such as the cowrie shell became potent embodiments of sexuality; the significance of location, where the placement of images within royal tombs and the orientation of temples held sacred associations; color symbolism, where red could signify the sun or blood, but also life, destruction or Seth, god of chaos; the magical meaning of numbers, in which two represented duality, three plurality, four totality and completeness, and seven embodied perfection; hieroglyphic signs, the living words of gods and kings, which were often the key to the full meaning of an Egyptian wall painting or sculpture; and the language of the body, including gestures of dominance and submission, mourning and rejoicing. This highly original and authoritative guide is the first-ever thematic treatment of these and other similar aspects of Egyptian art. Accompanying illustration sections allow the reader to see and understand the ancient works as the Egyptians once did themselves. Symbol and Magic in Egyptian Art will appeal to the art lover, traveler, Egyptophile and anyone fascinated by the mysteries of ancient symbols.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Every now and again a new book is published that the reader wishes had been available years before, say, when he or she was a student. Symbol and Magic in Egyptian Art is that kind of book. With the help of a veritable who's who among Egyptologists, Wilkinson-a working Egyptologist and lecturer on ancient Egypt at the University of Arizona-presents a clear, well-researched, well-documented book that is a basic tool for anyone studying Egyptian art. Working from an Egyptologist's viewpoint, Wilkinson breaks down Egyptian symbols into nine related areas (form, size, location, materials, color, numbers, hieroglyphs, actions, and gestures) and gives many detailed examples to illustrate the interpretations. In his introduction, Wilkinson discusses the ambiguity inherent in symbols and addresses the potential error involved in interpretation. Highly recommended for any collection with more than a cursory interest in Egyptian art.-Mary Morgan Smith, Northland P.L., Pittsburgh
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500280706
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 3/28/1999
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 6
Introduction 7
Chronological Table 14
1 Through Egyptian Eyes: The Symbolism of Form 16
2 Measure and Meaning: The Symbolism of Size 38
3 Position and Placement: The Symbolism of Location 60
4 Significance in Substance: The Symbolism of Materials 82
5 The Appearance of the World: The Symbolism of Color 104
6 Meaning in Many: The Symbolism of Numbers 126
7 Words as Magic, Words as Art: The Symbolism of Hieroglyphs 148
8 Significant Activity: The Symbolism of Actions 170
9 Language of the Body: The Symbolism of Gestures 192
Glossary 212
Notes to the Text 215
Further Reading 218
Index 222
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