What’s in a Hat? Odd Postures in Egyptian Art
Today’s post started with a joke.
The first few amuse me. By the end it doesn’t even make sense: just putting hieroglyphs around Ghostbusters doesn’t exactly give the impression of ancient Egyptian Ghostbusters. I do, however, get a giggle from the Vulture posing as Isis.
We’re going to stick with the first panel, which I find works best at what it’s attempting to do and there’s some pretty specific history with the pose.
The pose is quite distinct. The aggressor is always a pharaoh (not a general, noble, etc.), which is indicated by his hat (although there are multiple pharaonic hats). The enemy is on his knees and held by the hair. The pharaoh wields a mace (a heavy, metal head on a handle used for bashing), although here they tend to look like spoons.
You find them all over the place.
The exact pose used in the Star Wars image is, in my (limited) experience, rare. However, it was clearly based off of a real piece of art:
Even the little stack of stormtroopers is history-appropriate for indicating an army.
Now, let me digress and introduce you to a quite different piece of artwork, one which you’ve likely seen.
This is Nefertiti, wife of Akenaten. There’s all sorts of weird with those two: they tried being monotheists; later Egyptians attempted to obliterate them from history; they embraced a very different style of artwork, including this incredibly realistic, non-traditionally-Egyptian bust; and there’s a good deal of debate as to who the heck ruled during or after Akenaten’s rule (due to the fact people tried so hard to obliterate that period of history).
Nefertiti is wearing the traditional crown of a wife.
The smiting posture is something only a pharaoh gets to do.
Nefertiti is smiting a female captive. With a
spoon mace. Does that mean she ruled as pharaoh for a time, either during the life of her husband or after? But even if that was the case, why the heck is she wearing the crown of a wife, not a pharaoh? Because even female pharaohs get pharaonic hats…and beards, but that’s for another post.