Monday, April 9, 2007

Visions of Horus

When a god has more than a dozen different identities and takes on a part-animal form, I think Eric Hornung (1996/1970) again summarizes the challenges well:

Evidently a single image is not adequate for the metalanguage, which depends on continually changing combinations of many signs. The outward form of these signs is not decisive. The Egyptians are not concerned to give them as pleasing a form as possible, but to show what they wish to express.... We may feel that the mixture of the animal and the human is grotesque, but we should recall the saying of Christian Morgenstern: 'The material manifestation of God is necessarily grotesque.' (p. 257)

I consider myself among the graphically challenged, but I'm content with the way this image conveys the majesty of Horus as sky god as well as the immediate, concrete presence of Horus in the world, incarnate in the Egyptian king, both centered on the locale of the Temple of Edfu, where the annual drama of Osiris, Isis, Horus, and kingship was reenacted each year. It was tedious to do masking and transparency in OpenOffice Draw, which was the tool required for this assignment. The original images were all public uploads from Flickr, from photographers MykReeve and Lenka P and illustrator flondo. (I'd like to see flondo draw Hathor for Horus to hook up with!)

Hornung, E. (1996). Conceptions of god in ancient Egypt. (J. Baines, Trans.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. (Original work published 1970)

No comments: