Egyptian Rulers and their Gods Essay

This essay has a total of 708 words and 4 pages.

Egyptian Rulers and their Gods

The relationship between Egyptian rulers and their gods were ever present in many examples
of Egyptian art throughout the many changes in leadership. The depictions of these
relationships, however, were not always consistent from ruler to ruler, dynasty to
dynasty. The Palette of Narmer, Seated Statue of Khafre, and Akenaten and Nefertit and
their Children are three prime examples of the differences in depiction from one period to

The Palette of Narmer, done around 3000 B.C. in the Predynastic Period, depicts King
Narmer as the most important figure of the work. A system of hierarchical proportions is
important to this piece. Narmer’s dominating size and central position on the front
side of the work point to his importance; whereas, his sandal-bearer and defeated rivals
are smaller in size and thus, less important. Horus, the falcon god of sky and kingship,
is also very large and is shown at Narmer’s head height, showing his importance as a
god. The relationship between the two characters is depicted as that of a partnership.
Narmer subdues the ruler of Lower Egypt while Horus holds captive symbols of Lower Egypt,
six papyrus plants. Also notable is the frontal views of the heads of Hathor, the cow
goddess, whose relationship is depicted as that of a protector of Narmer and is found of
either side of the palette. On the reverse side, we again find hierarchical proportions
at work as well as Hathor protecting and helping Narmer. The final important note on this
piece is of the human form. It is done in a very conceptual approach. The upper body is
done in a frontal view while the legs and head are done in profile.

With the Seated Statue of Khafre, we see some continuities from the past but also some
changes. The god Horus is again found in this work in an even more protecting role,
behind Khafre’s head. We also find standing lions on either side of Khafre’s
throne guarding the ruler. Both these figures, like before for Narmer, are use to
reinforce Khafre’s divine right of kingship. The noticeable difference between this
piece and the Palette of Narmer is the way in which the human form is done. Khafre is
much more naturalistic, although not perfectly (Khafre’s kilt and hair are still
stylized). Underlying organic structures such as muscle and bone are depicted. This is
in contrast to the stylized form of Narmer. Also, Khafre is shown in perfect human
condition. His body’s proportions and muscle definition are very idealized. His
face expresses no emotion. These qualities are characteristic to sculpture in the Old
Kingdom when this piece was done in 2500 B.C.

The small relief, Akhenaten and Nefertiti and their Children, represents unprecedented
changes in the depiction of Egyptian rulers. This piece shows a very naturalistic view of
the human body in that the proportions are not idealized, but it also parallels previous
works with the frontal torso and profiled head and legs. Depictions of leaders in this
way were as unseen before Akhenaten. Although the children are shown in unnatural
proportions, their freedom of movement and childlike behavior show emotion unseen in
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