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meditation

                           

  HIEROGLYPHS
OF EGYPT

 


     “The Egyptians
believed that their system of writing was given to them by the gods.
Their text was generally associated with Thoth, the ibis-headed god of
wisdom who was regarded as the patron deity of the art of writing. It
was upon this conviction that the aesthetics of the Egyptian script
flourished. It was this belief embedded deep within the Egyptian minds
that spawned the civilization of mystery.

 Aesthetic
elements including size, form, materials,
placement, color, numbers,
action, and gestures found way into the hieroglyphs. In particular, the
placement of hieroglyphs in relation to one another was governed by
aesthetic rules. The Egyptians found it a necessity to group signs in
balanced rectangles. Karl Zauzich suggests that it would look wrong to
an Egyptian to see ‘words spelled out’ any other way (Zauzich, 1992,
p.3).

 The
Egyptians devised a system for the consistency of placement and
proportion. They used an 18 square vertical grid for laying out the
drafts of the glyphs. This would allow for the scribes to be consistent
in dimension, proportion, and size. Also this system offered a faster
production of texts as a more experienced scribe would draft out the
glyphs while less experienced scribes went along after and filled them
in. Here are examples of both a reproduction and original grid that was
used by the Egyptians to gain aesthetic value within their writing.


 There were two different ways that the
form of a hieroglyph expressed meaning; primary and secondary levels. If
a hieroglyph was used in the primary level to express meaning, then it’s
form related concepts, ideas, or identities with which it was directly
related. The form of the djed pillar is an example of primary
association. The djed pillar stands for stability. This hieroglyph is
shaped as a pillar as pillars offer
stability. Thus the djed pillar stands for what it is. The djed pillar
is also associated with the god Osiris and is sometimes said to
represent the backbone of the god. Osiris was believed to have been a
triumphant god who conquered and overcame his enemies, thus becoming a
symbol of stability. Also backbones are the stems of life found in human
beings. Thus the djed pillar symbolized both the deity and the concept
of support and duration. Both meanings are similar and both are of
primary association.


 
In
secondary level of association the form of a hieroglyph suggests another
different form which has its own symbolic significance. That is the
object represents something different than what it really is.This
level of association is especially common in amulets such as the ‘bunch
of grapes’ which is pictured here. The amulet was symbolic of the heart,
and thus life itself, because of its similarity in shape as well as its
color and the blood-like juice of the grape (Wilkinson, 1994, p.31).
However, the ‘bunch of grapes’ did not represent grapes.

 Size was
used symbolically in the Twelfth Dynasty funerary stela of Sa-Inheret.
Here you can see how Sa-Inheret and his wife are depicted much larger
than anything else. From their enormous size we can tell that they had a
significant amount of status within their community. Servants are
portrayed very small. They bring offerings that are even larger than
themselves. The relationships of size between the characters help us to
determine their role and station in life.

 With
extensive aesthetic properties and a divine origin, the hieroglyphs of
ancient Egypt became a major influence in the lives of the people. In
the Handbook to Life in Ancient Egypt, Rosalie David suggests,
“The main purpose for writing was not decorative, and it was not
originally intended for literary or commercial use. Its most important
function was to provide a means by which certain concepts or events
could be brought into existence. The Egyptians believed that if
something were committed to writing it could be repeatedly ‘made to
happen’ by means of magic” (David, 1998, p.199).      


 
The
Egyptian script was believed to be magic. Some glyphs were viewed as
complete entities endowed with divine power. Therefore, the drawing of
certain figures required precautions. Human legs or torsos were
sometimes omitted from a person to hinder their power. Fierce animals
were often laid captive by spears so that they would cause no harm to
the living or deceased. Birds were drawn partially mutilated so that
they could not consume the offerings left for the deceased in the
afterlife.


More About
Hieroglyphs:



Origins Of Writing

                 

 

 



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