Masking the Blow: The Scene of Representation in Late by Whitney Davis

By Whitney Davis

The that means of past due prehistoric Egyptian photos has till now been tantalizingly mysterious, as little understood because the conditions of their creation. for that reason, analyses of those photos were normal and usually incorrectly illustrated. Whitney Davis now offers a welcome treatment in this designated reinterpretation of the pictures carved on ivory knife handles and schist beauty palettes. those photos are one of the most vital records of early Egyptian heritage and contain the Narmer Palette, usually thought of the very inception of historical Egyptian photo making. Davis deciphers the exciting pictorial narratives and intricate metaphors of photos which are fascinated with "masking the blow" of the ruler. "Masking the blow" refers back to the ways in which the imagesfrom hunted animals to human antagonistsrepresent, elide, or suppress the depiction of a ruler's violent act of conquering an enemy. interpreting overdue prehistoric Egyptian photographs in gentle of up to date visible thought and illustrating his analyses with first-class reproductions, Davis is going past the standard main issue for stylistic improvement and iconographic meanings that signify earlier experiences. His paintings will significantly curiosity artwork historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, and scholars of the visible arts.

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Extra info for Masking the Blow: The Scene of Representation in Late Prehistoric Egyptian Art (California Studies in the History of Art)

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Despite these subtleties, my analysis depends on showing that image makers knew and took account of one another's work as available or possible varieties and species of image making. These textual relations may go in various, sometimes unexpected directionsthe sculptor of the Narmer Palette took account of the metaphorics of the Battlefield Palette, the Battlefield sculptor of the Hunter's Palette, and so onbut they are nonetheless particular, specific, and finite relations. For instance, the sculptor of the Brooklyn and Carnarvon knife handles evidently did not take account of the images produced by the Battlefield and Narmer sculptors.

Foreign influence is in question precisely because we do not yet have a clear idea of the general conditions of intelligibility of late prehistoric image making and because it is still judged in light of later canonical standards. Thus it is difficult to decide whether a mannerism or motif, by virtue of appearing untypical or "unEgyptian," is therefore to be ascribed to external influences; and some writers are rightly skeptical of the entire account of diffusion (Kelley 1974). Merely for the purposes of argument, we can grant that motifs like the human being mastering opposed animals, the serpent-necked felines (or "serpopards"), and the winged griffinall appearing on late < previous page page_23 next page > < previous page page_24 next page > Page 24 prehistoric Egyptian ivory knife handles or palettesare virtually certain examples of motifs with an ultimate origin in Mesopotamia, perhaps mediated by small Mesopotamian seals on which the motifs can be identified substantially earlier than the Egyptian uses (Porada 1990).

If we link the representation with the historical reality of what is supposedly documented by the image, we risk mistaking ideology and rhetoric for historical process itself. Whatever was really occurring in the villages, emergent regional polities, and nascent transregional institutions of late prehistoric Egypt, the images necessarily and by definition re-present this reality. They tell a story, perhaps the story of a historyand this, in turn, may be a history that never occurred. Given that information enabling us to back up these observations with a specific historical scenario is almost totally lacking, it makes as much sense to investigate the images as one of the empirical explanations for the emergence of the state in ancient Egypt as to suppose that we could somehow cite that history as an independent empirical explanation for the making of the images.

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