Today we sailed to Qena in Upper Egypt. Observe that "Upper Egypt" is to the South (closer to the source of the Nile) while "Lower Egypt" is to the North, closer to the Mediterranean (where the Nile ends). The Nile has provided life-sustaining water and transport to Ancient Egyptians (and Modern Egyptians, too). When one travels "Up the Nile," he is traveling South, towards the river's headwaters.
In Qena, we visited the Temple of Dendara, shown above, dedicated to the worship of the Goddess Hathor. It was built circa 54 BC, during the Roman occupation. Carved and painted decoration during this time will often show the Roman (or Greek) conquerer depicted as a Pharaoh, accompanied by the gods and goddess "endorsing" his reign.
Hathor was an important goddess, mother of Ra (the Sun God) and Horus (the Sky God). Hathor's domain was maternity and fertility, music and dancing, sensuality and beauty. When depicted in human likeness, she is shown with horns atop her head which cradle the disc of the Sun.
Upon entering the temple, one stands in a "Hypostyle Hall," that is, a room full of columns. The ceiling is highly decorated with bas relief and painting. The column shafts are decorated with carved images and hieroglyphs.
At the top of each column is a capital, depicting the face of Hathor, carved and painted.
The ambitious carved and painted ceiling depicts Nut, the Goddess of the Night, stretched from one wall to the other. I cannot help but notice that the aesthetic style of the goddess shown above would be repeated nearly 2,000 years later—in Secessionist, Art Nouveau, and even Art Deco works. Imagine Nut, shown above, in a Gustave Klimt painting or an Alfons Mucha graphic print.
Each god had a purpose—a realm which affected human life on Earth. Shown above, Anubis (the jackal) who was deity of embalming and funerary rites. Here he is shown (twice) carrying the accoutrements of the undertaker—in this case canopic jars, made to store certain internal organs of the deceased.
And here's the winged scarab. To the Ancient Egyptians, the dung beetle represented renewal and rebirth—resurrection. Dung beetles were observed as they rolled their dung balls across the sand, reminiscent of Ra, the God of the Sun, rolling the Sun across the sky each day (only to die at sunset and be resurrected the next morning at dawn).
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248