Music, Art, Beauty of Divine in Ancient Egypt.


In ancient times, the lotus flower was significant in their religion. Meaning creation and rebirth symbolised the sun because at nightfall, it closes and goes beneath the water, and at dawn, it climbs up above the water and reopens. And for Egyptians, the lotus represented rebirth.

On the other hand, the Egyptians were very musicians (especially women) and music lovers. Therefore, when we add something intoxicating like wine with the colour blue, it would be a perfect ceremony! Indeed, the beauties of nature have some undeniable connection to each other, and here is no exception.

The blue lotus flower looks almost fan-like across many images found in tomb paintings, papyrus scrolls, sculptures, and even headdresses.
It has also been revealed that they (lotus flowers) can produce heavy intoxication when steeped in wine. This explains the bottles wrapped in the flowers painted into scenes. Over three days or so, the wine’s chemical make-up is changed by the flowers brewing it. The wine is then drunk, and the benefits are experienced!
Psy Minds

Now, let’s see what we have here: A beautiful musician, music and an open lotus in a blue wine jar. It couldn’t be better! With heartfelt thanks to Marie Grillot for introducing this precious find.

A lute player… in a wine cup…

via Egyptophile

Cup with a lute player – earthenware with black design – Reign of Amenhotep III
Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden, AD 14
by acquisition from the Giovanni Anastasi Collection, 1828 – museum photo

This delicate blue earthenware cup, 4.5 cm high and 14 cm in diameter, tells a story… which can be interpreted according to one’s sensibilities…

In 1840, Conradus Leemans saw in it, laconically, “the image of a woman kneeling in a cradle and playing the guitar “… But, looking more closely at this fine and harmonious drawing traced in black, one can “read” a lot more about the character, its environment and the induced symbolism…

This lute player appears faithful to the representations of some of her colleagues found on the walls of Theban tombs…

She is sitting on her right leg folded under her, while the left is slightly raised. Her nudity reveals her slender body, the tip of a breast, the delicate curve of the hips, and the hollow of the navel. A lovely belt – probably of pearls – girds her waist, hiding the top of the pubis.

Beneath her right arm, positioned behind her, is the sound box of her lute. The long handle of the instrument, which is adorned with two ties ending in elegant pendants that intersect, is held horizontally by her left arm. The hands represented somewhat schematically are thus free to move on the strings and play the melody… There is a delicious detail: in the hollow of each elbow is a lotus stem, in button on one side, in bloom on the other…

Cup with a lute player – earthenware with black design – Reign of Amenhotep III
Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden, AD 14
by acquisition from the Giovanni Anastasi Collection, 1828 – museum photo

The musician reveals a beautiful profile, typically Egyptian, illuminated by a stretched eye surrounded by kohol. Her tripartite wig of heavy black hair is adorned with a floral headband. It is held by two wavy ties that seem to float at the back of her head, while in front, near the ointment cone, an open lotus flourishes.

Her hair reveals an earring and, around her neck, hangs a necklace with two rows of pearls…

On her thigh, we notice a tattoo in the image of the god Bès. This bearded and grotesque dwarf, revered for his protective role, notably knew how to appease evil spirits with his music, playing the harp or the tambourine while sketching a dance step…

Behind her, leaning forward towards her lower back, a small monkey, as charming as it is amusing, seems to want to grab her belt…

The large and soft cushion on which she is seated occupies the lower part of the bowl. They leave from both sides by opening out, on the whole, the circumference of the vegetable stems that end up joining. This lush vegetation thus gives the impression that the musician is placed under an arbour… For Arielle P. Kozloff (Amenophis III, the sun pharaoh): “The scene is framed by two poles ending in a lotus on one side and by a papyrus on the other”. For the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden, where the cup is exhibited under the reference AD ​​14, “the young girl is seated under an arbour with bunches of grapes”.

Cup with a lute player – earthenware with black design – Reign of Amenhotep III
Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden, AD 14
by acquisition from the Giovanni Anastasi Collection, 1828

Thus, for the RMO, this particular environment combined with “the presence of the mischievous monkey faithful companion of Bès, as well as the image of Bès, who was also the god of drunkenness, indicate that the bowl was intended to drink wine “…

Therefore, the “Festive” context for this artefact dated from the reign of Amenhotep III and, more precisely – according to Arielle P. Kozloff – from the end, as specific details of the female anatomy suggest: “The elongated torso, the very slight sagging of his flank and the fold under the umbilicus “…

If no information is known on its “antique” provenance, we know that, at the beginning of the 19th century, this cup ended up in the hands of Giovanni Anastasi. According to the “Who Was Who in Egyptology”, he was then: “one of the essential merchants in Egypt, acting as Swedish-Norwegian consul-general in Egypt, 1828-57; in addition to his commercial activities, he carried on an extensive trade in antiquities, employing agents to buy from inhabitants of Saqqara and Thebes; He sold a large collection of 5,600 coins to the Dutch Government in 1828 for 230,000 francs; another was sold in London at the British Museum in 1839, and a third (1129 lots) was auctioned in Paris from June 23 to 27, 1857”.

This is how, since 1828, the pretty musician has charmed visitors to the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden…

Marie Grillot


Cup with lute player

Reasoned description of the Egyptian monuments [sic] of the Museum of Antiquities of the Netherlands in Leiden by Conradus Leemans, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden te Leiden – Publication date 1840 – Publisher HW Hazenberg – European Collection libraries – (n° 118)

Arielle P. Kozloff, Amenophis III, the sun pharaoh, RMM, 1993

Sibylle Emerit, Music and Musicians

Kate Bosse-Griffiths, Two Lute-Players of the Amarna Era, The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 66 (1980), p. 70-82

Who Was Who in Egyptology, Bierbier, M., London: Egypt Exploration Society

18 thoughts on “Music, Art, Beauty of Divine in Ancient Egypt.

  1. The attention to detail in this beautiful post is remarkable and deeply insightful. Thank you so much Aladin for sharing more of Marie’s Egyptian treasures! Hope you’re having a wonderful birthday today already! Huge birthday love and light winging there way over the sea and lakes and mountains between us, Deborah.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Seems the ancient Egyptians thought a lot more about the big picture than we do.
    It’s “true” graffiti, in a sense. History leaves a message.
    I wonder what message on a wall will be left for tomorrow, from today?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A very fascinating article that showcases a great passion for ancient Egypt. Above all, I found the way you talked about music very interesting, a subject that I rarely hear about when it comes to Egypt. I was very impressed, thank you very much!

    Liked by 1 person

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