• Category Archives Egyptian Sculpture and Ceramic
  • The Egyptian Pottery.

    human figures depictions in Egyptian ceramic. - Copy


    The Egyptian pottery


    The forms of ancient Egyptian pottery were numerous. Vases were made principally for practical use and not for ornament although the decoration in some of them is remarkable. The amphora, in Egypt as in all ancient countries was the most common and most useful vase, was made in all sizes, from the three-inch oil or perfume container to the immense jar of three or four feet in height, for holding water, wine, oil, or grain.


    New archeology tools to identify pottery.


    Pottery provides a secure support for dating of all archaeological finds. The studies of their dating shed light on the proper period produced as well as the cultural affiliations and economic aspects around them. People start creating pottery vessels very early in time In order to have something were to keep wheat products and grains in them so it wouldn’t get wet and go moldy. Pottery was used for utilitarian tasks such as cooking, storage, and shipping. In Egypt artisan produced interesting shapes ceramic figures, vessels, and even sarcophagi which were very much a part of ancient Egyptian funerary practices.

    The earliest Egyptian pottery already had geometric designs on it. The Egyptians made two kinds of pottery:

    –          The ordinary made soft pottery.

    –          The coarse, gritty compound, lacking cohesion, sandy, easily crumbled, very white, but always covered with a strong glaze or enamel.

    The purpose of the ancient ceramic in Egypt as well as the one of their contemporaries cover; domestic use, funerary, festival, and ritual contexts. Egypt produced several varieties of unglazed pottery. The most common pottery was the ordinary red, cream-colored, and the yellow ones. The art of covering pottery with enamel was invented by the Egyptians at a very early date. They applied it to stone as well as to pottery. Enameled pottery was also used for inlaying purposes in ornamental work.


    Old Kingdom Potteries. Egipt.Giza.


    Ceramic material allow be interpreted in its wider socio-economic context. The studies about this pottery derived from analyzing many sites in Egypt from the Delta in the north to Elephantine in the south, and covering a chronological range from the Old Kingdom to the Coptic period.


    Canopic EgyptianThe pottery with funerary purpose made in Egypt show a large numbers of smaller enameled potteries which were deposited with the dead; they are very well preserved and provide very important information. The most common founded were those now called Osirian figures, usually representing mummies. They are found both unglazed and enameled, in red pottery and in with a hard, gritty pottery.

    The pottery that corresponds with the pre dynastic Egypt was often of a surprisingly fine quality. The so called “Badarian” period pottery was made without the use of a potter’s wheel, and it was usually the woman who elaborated the pottery. These beautiful pieces were burnished to a lustrous finish. They were probably fired in either open bonfires or very primitive kilns, but remain some of the most astonishing pottery ever produced in Egypt.

    From the Naqada period (4,000 – 3,000 BC) until the dynastic period, paintings without guides, repetitive templates or fixed concepts were added to the pottery freely.  Animal’s figures, patterns, boats and human figures were depicted.




    The potter’s wheel in Egypt was invented in the Old Kingdom. At first this device was a simple turntable, but later evolved into a true potter’s wheel, requiring better preparation of the clay and more control during firing. These potter’s wheels were still hand turned. With the potter’s wheel more refined kilns were constructed, this new technique allowed pottery to be made in more abundance, but did not entirely replace all other forms of pottery making. For example, bread moulds continued to be handmade around a core known as a “Patrix”.


    animal and human figures depictions in Egyptian ceramic.


    After the pottery was formed, either by a potter’s wheel or more primitive means, it would have been left to thoroughly dry. If the surface was to be burnished, after drying the pottery would have been polished with pebbles and then painted or perhaps engraved and finally fired, probably in a not confined place during pre dynastic times, until the development of kilns.

    Egyptian pottery can be divided into two broad categories dependent on the

    type of clay that was used.

    –          The pottery made with Nile clay, and known as Nile silt ware. This potter after being fired, it has a red-brown color, been used for common, utilitarian purposes, though at times it might have been decorated or painted. Blue painted pottery was somewhat common during the New Kingdom (1,550-1,069 BC).

    –          The pottery made from ‘marl clay’. This type of pottery was usually thought superior to the common Nile mud pottery, often used for decorations and other functions. Was often burnished, leaving a shiny glaze like surface although it was not a truly glace process.

    Shaping Methods of Pottery Use in Egypt

    –          Hand-shaping,

    –          Hand-shaping pottery and finished with a turning device.

    –          Shaping on a wheel.



    Intermidiate Period Potteries. Egypt.


    Hand-shaping methods of pottery use in Egypt


    1) Forming a single piece of clay by the use of free-hand shaping,

    2) Shaping with a paddle and anvil,

    3) Shaping on a core or over a hump,

    4) Shaping with a mold.

    5) Building with a slab or coil.


    It can be said in a summary that the pottery production in ancient Egypt was a significant industry that produces a variety of goods that serve well to resolve the basic needs presented to this culture of counting with  appropriate containers for liquids and solids. For us today these potteries are serving another different purpose but not less important because they are providing us with a wide range of answers to multiples questions still unresolved about this ancient civilization history, their religious dogmas and their social life.


    Egytptian ceramic



  • Egyptian Sculpture



    Ancient Egyptian Sculpture. 


    The sculptor in Egypt was not considered or assessed as an artist or first character, was a character in the second category (and was not so in the case of the architect).This occurred because sculptors were engaged in a manual activity purely on request, by what the initiative or the creative aspect were not precisely what was required of them, only the one that  conducted to the realization of the commissioning or order to be done to perfection; according to the specifications of the client (Church and State) the only ones that could have scope to acquire these ornamental and decorative pieces. So the execution of the work was made not taking in account the artisan point of view or creativity. The results of those commissioned labor today are works of art of unquestionable value nevertheless.  



    Interesting sculptures from the Roman Egypt period like the one who represent the god Horus with roman style clothes and shoes; show the fusion of elements from those culture were; the typical rigid egyptian position of the figure have variations with one foot slightly forward and his knees apart draped in a garment. From the waist down, he could be a senior Olympian deities or Roman emperor, while from the waist up keep egyptian elements as the bird head with the hieratic expression. (Click on the photo to learn more about this sculpture and the work made by the scientific at the British Museum).




    General characteristics of Egyptian sculpture:

    1. They are utilitarian in nature.
    2. A purpose is not aesthetic (the beauty of them is something secondary).
    3. It is a hieratic sculpture.
    4. Solemn and ceremonious.
    5. The human figures excessively respected the rules of the official label. (Front to dignify the character) if it is round and with the head of profile if it is highlighted.





    The exempt Egyptian sculpture’s


    They are rigid.



    Without movement.

    They show no feelings or emotions, expression serene without passion.

    The arms are attached to the body (sculpture block for technical reasons and to ensure strength and durability).

    Use of paste artificial eyes of glass to accentuate the depth of his gaze.

    They are limestone, polychrome wood and the most important in granite and basalt.


    The egyptian sculptures in relief


    – Polychrome use in low relief and is address to meet the contour of the figure (hole-relieve).

    They show no effects of perspective.

    All the figures are of the same size except the Pharaoh to emphasize their power.

    Completive technique is used: (parts of the front, the bust and the eyes and parts of the head, legs and feet of the profile).

    The compositions are always symmetrical and perfectly arranged symbolically.

    Items ranging from everyday scenes and agricultural work to the great feats of the Pharaohs, always counted by selecting the main and most appropriate moments and counting in a horizontal row, one after the other as a narrative sequence.

    Seeks to not leave any empty space (HORRO VACUI).





    Famous sculptures; very well preserved many of them; are the admiration of millions of people today; they are true works of art showing a high degree of expertise, they are made in various materials, some more durable than others, but nevertheless because thousands of these works were kept in the tombs for their owners this artifacts were preserved in good condition thanks to been stored in special conditions where they were not directly exposed to the severity of the desert.






    The Egyptian ceramic and Pottery will be explained better in a separate post because this manifestation have a wide range of important elements that shoul be adressed separate.