Form in Art Essay

This essay has a total of 804 words and 4 pages.

Form in Art



The object in question is marked as a Syrian, Bronze Age, stone label seal (c. 3rd- 2nd
millennium). Most of the seals I have viewed have much more representational forms on them
than this object has. I have not been able to find any books which have pictures of items
with this name, which leads me to believe that it has been marked wrong. The object
resembles a small, oval shaped bead with indentations in the centers of the longer sides,
making it look like the number 8. Both sides have the same, simple decoration of carved
lines;(if the object is viewed with the hole through its middle going up to down rather
than left to right) two vertical lines in the center and four horizontal lines on either
side of these. One side of the object is flat, but the other side is convex. After viewing
many pictures of seals and cylinder seals, I find it unusual that this object should be
marked as a seal because the design of its decoration is so simple.

It seems more likely that this object is what one definition calls a token or ďa small,
stone or clay bead worn on a string about the neck. Each token was a different size or
shape and stood for different business transactions. An impression would be made in clay
or wax signifying that the transaction took place.Ē(1). These tokens were often only a
shape that could be recognized as being different from other individualís token shapes,
like a personís signature.

The indentations and line decoration on the token make it resemble a pair of wings. The
shape of the tokenís flat side and rounded side are like a human chest cavity. This could
be a combination of human (skeleton) and spirituality (wings). There are many depictions
of winged gods and goddesses in ancient Near Eastern art. Though this object is highly
utilitarian and has little representational decoration, it seems likely that there would
be a connection between its wing-like shape and the frequency of wings in other Syrian
art.

The shape of wings being repeated on a token used for business transactions seems to
signify that the concept of wings is important culturally. This implies that the Syrian
culture fused their religious beliefs with other aspects of their lives. One example of a
similar shape used in a religious sculpture is of a North Syrian goddess with a birdís
face from the 2nd millennium BC. The chest cavity and wings of this goddess sculpture
have a very similar shape to the token. The lines on the wings of the sculpture radiate
down to the edges of the wings like the horizontal lines on the token. The indented-oval
shape is also repeated here.

Shaping a tool (tool, meaning: the object in its metonymical sense), to look like a pair
of wings, makes the object metaphorical. The object was made with simple decorations to
only imply the shape of wings because it was a tool which identified a person or business
with a quickly recognizable icon. This is much like a company logo would be today, though
the significance of wings was probably used here because of its spiritual implications.
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