Guedea like Amenemhat II the 10′ Pharaoh was carved in honor of a leader and king who ruled in the early 2144-2124 BC. By the inscriptions that were found on it, the sculpture forms part of a collection of the pieces in the temples built by the Guedea in Ur Nippur, Asdab Uruk and Bad-Tibira.
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They were both carved as symbols of influence and prominence in the Sumer society. Both pieces of art were carefully crafted to reflect the feelings and impressions of the personalities they represented along with the nature and feel of their periods of reign.
Amenemhat II the 10′ Pharaoh compares to the Guedea by its rather lavish but carefully crafted sense of pride that falls in line with the pomp and style that came with the reign of the Pharaohs. It stands 10 foot tall almost the size of a monument with characteristically broad shoulders and a narrow waist that portrays a rather athletic and muscular personality.
Clearly, the reign of the pharaoh between 1919 and 1885 was full of energy and an active mood. The facial completion and the buildup of the facial features tend to make it look like the Ramesses II who rued between 1279 and 1213. The general composure of the piece cultivates a proud and authoritative picture and mood.
The Guedea on the other hand is a smaller and more condensed version of kingship. This reflects the early form of art due to its lack of refined and more clearly defined trimmings due to the tools and equipments that were used at the time. The piece of art is rather small and simplistic as to represent the amount of influence and importance that the personality gave to art.
Both motivated by a similar objective, the artworks were created by the people who obviously worshipped them. The sculptures, therefore, have a common theme that only differs in expression and lay out. The Pharaoh was created to thrill, which is reinforced by the wide open eyes and the outburst impression.
The Guedea on the other hand stands to honor the king and recognize the throne as well as represent a rather humble and more reserved king who needed little attention and was more focused on development. The piece was found among the pieces of trade and, therefore, follows the commercial rather than artistic importance.
Another important element that characterizes both sculptures and shows distinctly the difference between them is the position the characters are depicted in. The gestures of the characters seem to be one of the links that bring these artworks together. Both sitting in the same position, the Pharaoh and Guedea put their hands in their laps, as if humbly waiting for something or someone to come.
One of the most significant details in the sculptures of the ancient idols, the proportions of the artifacts in question are strikingly different. Speaking of the Pharaoh, one must mention the tremendous size the sculpture has.
Taking a single glance at the sculpture is enough to understand that the creator of the artwork was aiming at emphasizing the magnificence and the power of the beholder of the throne. Hence, the proportions of the sculpture are not distorted, but considerably exaggerated if compared to the size of a real person.
In contrast to the sculpture of the Pharaoh, the Guedea sculpture is tiny and almost insignificant. It is obvious that the creator of the sculpture was not intending to express the grandeur of his creation with help of its size. On the contrary, the sculpture of Guedea seems to command esteem with the air of composure and restraint about the figure.
The Egyptians considered these two characters as deities and could therefore not put a commercial price tag on their sculptures and symbols.
They, however, had an extremely high value in the religious realm and were therefore considered holy. The Sumerians, on the other hand, valued the symbols and sculptures of their rulers and their gods in the commercial and religious realm. This, therefore, explains the reason as to why the Guedea was found among other items of trade.
Edzard, Dietz Otto. Gudea and His Dynasty. Buffalo, UK: Toronto: University of Toronto Press Incorporated, 1997.
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Frayne, Douglas . Sargonic and Gutian Periods. Buffalo, UK: University of Toronto Press Incorporated, 1993.
Johnson, Ken. “A Pharaoh Lords Over a Museum.” New York Times. August 2011. www.nytimes.com/2011/08/23/arts/design/amenemhat-ii-at-metropolitan-museum-review.html?_r=1
Rice, Michael. Egypt’s Making: The Origins of Ancient Egypt 5000-2000 BC. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis, 1990.
Stokstad, Marilyn. Art History, Vol. 1, 3rd ed. London, UK: The Pearson Prentice Hall, 2003.
- 1 Dietz Otto Edzard, Gudea and His Dynasty. (Buffalo, Toronto: University of Toronto Press Incorporated, 1997), 26.
- 2 Ken Johnson, “A Pharaoh Lords over a Museum.” New York Times, August 2011.
- 3 Marilyn Stokstad, Art History, Vol. 1, 3rd ed. (London, UK: The Pearson Prentice Hall, 2003), 57.
- 4 Douglas R. Frayne, Sargonic and Gutian Periods, (University of Toronto Press Incorporated: Toronto, Buffalo,1993), 108.
- Rice, Michael. Egypt’s Making: The Origins of Ancient Egypt 5000-2000 BC (Taylor & Francis, New York, NY, 1990), p. 119.