DATA RE ABU SIMBEL IN EGYPT - PAGE 6
May the webmaster be forgiven for straying from the strict subject of Abu Simbel to feature something not truly related? Yet an item of very great beauty. But one that relates to Pharaoh Ramesses III rather than to Ramesses II. And, in fact, another about the Egyptian Book of the Dead?
Those of us who visit e-Bay from time to time, and there are countless millions of us, each have our favourite e-Bay 'searches'. My search items are surely different from yours, of course. But one of mine, in view of these pages about Abu Simbel, is 'Ramses'. And some years ago now I found a couple of superb items with that 'Ramses' search.
The items in question are some quite magnificent wall tiles, of 'tumbled Italian marble', available through Classic Tile Murals, of P.O. Box 46765, Kansas City, Missouri, 64188. The images I present below are courtesy of Todd & Lorraine Arbuckle whose company that is & whose web site is available here. As I wrote these words many years ago there were 85 different murals available for sale on an amazingly wide range of subjects. Do go look!
Without more ado, here is the first of the two magnificent tile murals. Each tile is 4 inches square. So the mural is approximately 20 inches by 16 inches in the original. And these are the words Todd & Lorraine used to describe the item - a scene from the Ramesses III funerary temple at Medinet (or Medinat) Habu. You may be interested to know that the Arbuckles' state on their page that the image next below was created from no less than five individual scans - all pieced together.
"Scene from the temple treasury in the funerary temple of King Ramses III at Medinet Habu. The most valuable ritual items of the temple, made of gold, silver and other precious materials, were kept in the treasury, and the decoration of the walls reflects this fact. Here, in a scene captioned 'presenting chests of silver and gold to his father Amun-Ra, king of the gods', Ramses III is shown offering various items of ritual furniture to the god, who is seated in a shrine with his consort Mut standing behind him. The objects presented are statues of the king, a harp and three tall vases with elaborate stoppers, all placed on stands for storage. Behind them are a large shrine with double doors and a smaller chest. Gold is represented by yellow paint with detailing and hieroglyphs picked out in the fine red lines. Other dominant colors are turquoise, dark blue and red, and the colors of the (semi-) precious stones most frequently used by the Egyptians. This overall color scheme adds to the feeling of richness and wealth engendered by the subject matter. From the post-Amarna period on, Amun-Ra was often represented with dark blue skin, perhaps a reference to the color of the sky or to the precious stone lapis lazuli. Twentieth Dynasty."
Is that not VERY beautiful?
And next another mural this of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Approximately 24 inches by 12 inches in the original. Again I quote the Arbuckles' words.
"Part of the Book of the Dead of the king's scribe Ani, showing Ani, followed by the smaller figure of his wife Tutu, adoring Osiris, the ruler of the underworld, and his sister-consort Isis, who are enclosed within a shrine. Osiris is shown wrapped and shrouded in white linen like a mummy, but his green skin symbolizes his regeneration, when he was brought back to life by Isis after he had been murdered by the god Seth. Although the papyrus belongs to Ani, he is accompanied by his wife in some, but not all, of the vignettes. The two groups of figures frame fifteen columns of hieroglyphs containing an address and a hymn to Osiris. These have been imagined as being recited by Ani as part of his adoration of the deity. Thebes. Nineteenth Dynasty. The original is in the British Museum, London."
And Medinet Habu? (Medinet, which is spelled many different ways, means 'city' in Arabic. Habu, Abu, Aboo, etc. means 'saint' or 'saintly') It is a giant complex of temples & courts located on the west bank of the Nile opposite Luxor, a little to the south of the Valley of the Queens. It is quite a long way inland today but a canal from the Nile once connected the site to a landing quay at its east entrance. Second in size & complexity only to the magnificence of Karnak itself, it was in use, as a temple & administrative site, for the astonishing period of about 2500 years from about 1500 BC right through to the 9th century AD. While there are many structures at the site, the dominant feature is the mortuary temple of Ramesses III, the Pharaoh whose image graces the above tile mural.
Pylons 1 and 2 feature Pharaoh Ramesses III's military activities. The webmaster was fortunate to visit the site some years ago, & my diary states that the reliefs record victory over tribes that lived in today's Syria. They also state that there is little historical basis for that battle which was dated, per the hieroglyphics, to the 11th year of the Pharaoh's reign. But he was, by all accounts, a truly brilliant Pharaoh, none the less. (In Amelia Edwards' words "a king as brilliant, as valorous, and as successful as Ramesses II"). The complex is very large & enclosed by massive walls. It is still possible to get an idea of the original colours of the decoration by looking high under the roofs where protection was afforded from both sun & humanity. At the rear, a now open hypostyle court is splendid in its beauty. (a hypostyle court is a columned court with the roof supported by pillars) There we were encouraged by the custodian to climb to the top of the walls for a better viewpoint - for a small fee of course! Such is Egypt & always will be, I am sure. Somewhere in the depth of my photo files is a delightful image, I recall, of my wife Margaret at that very spot with the custodian at hand to steady her climb, not that she really needed it.
And if I am permitted another personal anecdote, we left Medinet Habu for the Colossi of Memnon, & en route our old Peugeot taxi came to an unexpected stop. Total silence. Quite pleasant really. In Egypt, life is still very much to this very day, an hour to hour & day to day affair. If you only need a thimbleful of gasoline that is all that one buys. The driver walked all the way back to Medinet Habu & soon returned with a friend in another taxi to take us on our way. And then I guess, they went off to buy just a little more fuel.
I will add in some images of Medinet Habu, as I locate them. But here is a beautiful albumen of the hypostyle hall that I found on e-Bay, one of two fine images, actually, that sold for a total of U.S. $130.27 in late Jan. 2003. I trimmed it by cutting off faded areas for display here. The image was signed by A. Beato in black. The interesting title that was, of course, under the image in the original, is included within the image for your viewing interest. Antonio Beato worked out of a Luxor studio from 1870 to about 1900 but the exact image date is not known to me.
And here is another fine 'Beato' image of Medinet Habu, said to date from the 1880s. Again, I set the interesting title within the image itself.
More when I have more!