The majesty of Egyptian art and artifacts

In preparation for the Chamber’s trip to Egypt from March 20-29, 2020, accounts of Egypt’s natural and structural manmade beauty has been extolled, including the Great Pyramids, Nile River ruins, and the modern flairs of Cairo. But another beautiful component to the Egyptian experience we are offering is several thousand years’ worth of artwork. Sculptures, wall reliefs, paintings, ornamental furniture, you name it. When it comes to works of art, Egypt has you covered. Here’s a general overview of what that means.

Despite the rise and fall of dozens of dynasties during Egypt’s antiquity, much of the art style remained the same until the Hellenic period. The Ancient Egyptians actually had no native word for “art”, as art was less of an individual expression of creativity and brilliance and more of a practical creation used for religious or political purposes. Thus, surviving works show little variation between artists and time, as their works were meant to satisfy customs unrelated to uniqueness.

The majority of surviving works from Ancient Egypt come from burial tombs, which safeguarded the treasures from bandits and the passage of time. These works ranged from the iconic death masks of Pharaohs to pottery to statuettes and large furniture. Items buried with a pharaoh were meant to aid or bring pleasure as the individual traveled to the land of the dead or Duat.

In painted representations, Egyptians depicted myths, accounts of daily life, and the wonders of the Duat which awaited the deceased. Colors were used to heighten the impact of the images, with certain hues carrying deliberate connotations. For instance, gold would be used in depictions of gods, as it was a rare tone. Blue was often used for depicting aspects of life, like childbirth or the Nile. Blue was also popular in pottery and metalwork.

As for adornment jewels, the dark blue Lapis Lazuli was highly appraised by Egyptians for its reportedly divine origin, outranking all other metals save for gold and silver. Lapis, among other valuable materials were also fashioned into jewelry and its more practical cousin, the amulet. Most amulets depicted an Egyptian deity who granted the wearer safety, prosperity, or another benefit.

Luckily for Chamber travelers, Day 3 will include a trip to the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, which includes 120,000 items from the time of the pharaohs. One of the most notable inclusions in this museum is the death mask of King Tut, which has been described as the most iconic item to ever come out of Ancient Egypt.

For free time in Cairo, if you are so inclined, the Gezira Center for Modern Art houses more than 10,000 paintings and sculptures from the 20th Century and later from native Egyptian artists. Dozens of other private collections, galleries, and non-profit centers permeate through Cairo, housing both local and foreign works.

Unfortunately, a great amount of Egyptian creations are not housed in Egypt itself. While the Egypt Museum in Cairo houses the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts for a single museum, Egypt’s total haul on display is dwarfed by the museums of the United States, the United Kingdom, and other Western European countries. Luckily for San Antonio, the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in Texas is in our city at the San Antonio Museum of Art, which is the location of our next info session and the final chance to receive information before early bird registration closes October 23.

However, the future of Egypt’s art displays is bright, as the newly constructed Grand Egyptian Museum is set to open in Giza in 2020, which will supersede the current museum in Cairo. The museum will house the entirety of the King Tut collection, as well as some current exhibits from Luxor, Aswan, Cairo, and other parts of Egypt. We are sincerely keeping our fingers crossed that the museum opens before we embark on the trip of a lifetime. Stay tuned to your Chamber for more updates from our membership trip to Egypt and don’t forget to register for your place today.

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