Interesting Facts About Egyptian Murals

by Kristy Ambrose
An ancient mural depicting the god Horus

An ancient mural depicting the god Horus

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The art and culture of ancient Egypt has stood the test of time. Even after thousands of years of wear and tear, the paintings and murals that lined the houses of the Pharaohs continue to fascinate us in the present day. There are many interesting facts about these murals, including how they were designed and implemented and the symbols they portray.

Colors

The six basic colors of ancient Egyptian murals, red, white, black, green, yellow and blue, were not chosen solely for aesthetics. Each color had a significant meaning and was used deliberately. Foliage was always green but also symbolized new life. Blue had a similar connotation while also representing the sky and water. White was a sacred color and was used to symbolize greatness and purity. Black was used for the night and represented death. Yellow was the color of eternal gold and the sun god.

Frontalism

The perspective of Egyptian murals, recognized by the side profile of the face but with a view of the torso from the front, is one of their most distinctive features. In the art world, this technique is known as frontalism. Other than perspective, this style also includes painting the subjects in an idealized manner, without depicting old age or infirmaries, and includes inscriptions identifying the subject. These characteristics made frontalism ideal for ancient Egyptian temples and tombs.

Kinds of Murals

Murals were not only for tombs and palaces, and they were not only composed of gods and battles for the social elite. Murals could also be found in private homes and public places like markets and portrayed the mundane details of everyday life in an idealized way. Fishermen pulling full nets from the Nile River, fields full of wheat and natural scenes of birds and landscapes appeared on the walls, floors and even ceilings of ancient Egypt.

Preparaton

Before the first rough sketches of the mural had even begun, the surface of the wall had to be carefully prepared. A wooden or stone surface intended for the mural was cleaned and smoothed, then covered with plaster made of mud and gypsum to hide any imperfections. Etchings or reliefs could be carved into the plaster when it dried and then painted. The draft was then painted on the wall using thin lines of red ink and a small scribe's pen. Artists drew freehand but also used intersecting lines as a guide.

About the Author

Kristy Ambrose enjoys writing about teaching, travel and pet care. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Victoria.

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