Monday, December 6, 2010

Tut's collar and torso

Here I first painted the collar...

And today I painted his hands and torso and feet. He is shown as a handsome young man, even though we know today that he suffered from illnesses. But the ancient Egyptians could not show their pharaoh as anything else but ideal - anything else would have been against "maat" or balance, if you will. Just like Hatshepsut depicted herself as a man, when she took the crown of pharaoh, Tut was depicted as perfect despite his health problems. Appearance was everything with the ruler.

But then again, think how Tut's father, Akhenaten was depicted. His female form and elongated face, heavy lips and slanted eyes must have been a horror to the traditional Egyptians. So in case of his son (and daughter, as Ankhesenamun here is Tut's half sister) traditional art was the way to show them to the world.

Normal Egyptians did not prefer sibling marriages, but the royal family found this to be a way to keep the crown within the family. They had no wish to extend their small elite group or unite with other families.  So the Great Royal Wives were more often than not from within their own small family. The lesser wives could be outside the immediate families - their sons became pharaoh usually only if the Great Royal Wife (or queen as we say it, even though they had no such word) did not give birth to a son or if her sons died before their father the pharaoh. And even then the lesser wives did not rule the country if their sons were still children - no, if it was necessary, it was the Great Royal Wife who ruled the land for the child-pharaoh until he became of age to take the crown. The mother of the new king got the title "Kings Mother" and was respected for it.

It seems Tutankhamon was the the son of Akhenaten and his full sister, according to the latest DNA research. So it seems Nefertiti did not give birth to a son, or if she did, he died in infancy (boys were not usually shown with the pharaoh in art, but daughters often were, so we don't know if Nefertiti had a son). But Nefertiti was the Great Royal Wife and probably took over the upbringing of the small Tutankhaten and after Ekhnaton's death had a role in making him pharaoh.

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