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Ancient Egyptian Religion Essay

1073 words - 4 pages

Religion was not a monolithic institution, it consisted of a large variety of different beliefs and practices, all of which were linked by the common focus on the interaction between the Egyptian people and the divine realm, as the gods of this realm linked the Egyptian understanding of the world. As the Ancient Egyptian Religion was an integral part of ancient Egyptian society. Polytheism the belief of multiple deities usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses along with their own mythologies and rituals was an essential aspect of ancient Egyptian religion. As the Ancient Egyptian religion included a large and diverse pantheon of gods and goddesses, and around these deities arose a rich mythology that helped explain the world. As these deities of Egyptian cosmology played specific roles within the Egyptian society, as the It was their representation through artwork that communicated particular symbols and meanings within this ancient society, it must be noted that the portrayals of the gods in the art were not meant as literal illustrations of the gods, if they were visible. As the gods were believed to be mysterious, these depictions instead gave recognizable forms to these abstract deities using symbolic imagery, of animals, colour and clothing to communicate each deity’s role within this ancient society.

Colors were more expressive within the ancient artwork as rather than using a natural skin tone differing colours represented differing roles or symbols amongst the ancient society. As red skin symbolised healthy tanned youth, whereas yellow skin was used for women and middle-aged men who worked indoors, blue or gold colours have an association with precious materials and jewels, and to have as ones skin suggests an unnatural divinity. The use of black expressed the fertility of the Nile from which Egypt was born and associations with the rotting flesh of the deceased. This is shown in the portal of Anubis, Anubis the protector of the dead, was the god associated with mummification and the afterlife. Through the association with mummification and the afterlife he was generally portrayed as a half human half-jackal form. Animals were usually also highly symbolic figures in Egyptian art, however the Egyptians did not worship animals, the animals were used as powerful symbols for the gods in which they worshiped, the use of the jackal portrayed the ideals of death. As the jackal itself was strongly associated with the cemeteries of ancient Egypt, it was a creature whose scavenging habits threatened the preservation of the body, in an effort to counter this threat and employ it for protection the jackal head was a symbol for Anubis. The distinct black colour of Anubis, was symbolic not of the jackals skin but that of rotting flesh and the fertility of the black soil of the Nile Valley which symbolized that of rebirth, as shown in the artwork below.

Osiris (shown above) the god of the afterlife, or underworld, Osiris was...

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