Earliest Egypt

A History of Egypt from the Earliest Times to the Persian Conquest (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1905), Chapter III, pp. 25-50

Browse scholarship by topic:

Art & Architecture


shoulder, to which a lion's tail was appended behind. So dressed and so attended he conducted triumphant celebrations of his victories, or led the ceremonies at the opening of canals (Fig. 1S), or the inauguration of public works. On the thirtieth anniversary of his appointment by his father as crown-prince to the heirship of the kingdom, the king celebrated a great jubilee called the "Feast of Sed," a word meaning "tail," and perhaps commemorating his assumption of the royal lion's tail at his appointment thirty years before. He was a mighty hunter, and recorded with pride an achievement like the slaying of a hippopotamus. His weapons were costly and elaborate as we shall see. His several palaces each bore a name, and the royal estate possessed gardens and vineyards, the latter being also named and carefully administered by officials who were responsible for the income therefrom. The furniture of such a palace, even in this remote age was magnificent and of fine artistic quality. Among it were vessels exquisitely wrought in some eighteen or twenty different varieties of stone, especially alabaster (Fig. 14) ; even in such refractory material as diorite, superb bowls were ground to translucent thinness, and jars of rock crystal were carved with matchless precision to represent natural objects. The pottery, on the other hand, perhaps because of the perfection of the stone vessels, is inferior to that of the predynastic age. The less substantial furniture has for the most part perished, but chests of ebony inlaid with ivory and stools with legs of ivory magnificently carved to represent bull's legs (Fig. 15), have survived in fragments. Glaze was now more thoroughly mastered than before, and incrustation with glazed plaques and ivory tablets was practiced. The coppersmith furnished the pal-ace with finely wrought bowls, ewers and other vessels of copper (Fig. 16) ; while he materially aided in the perfection of stone vase-making by the production of excellent copper tools. The goldsmith combined with a high degree of technical skill also exquisite taste, and produced for the kings person and for the ladies of the royal household mag-

Page 19