Nefertiti in Colour

13 August 2010

Archaeologists are examining a cache of talatat blocks stored in Luxor, some 62,000 of them. They have been locked away for some years and only now are they seriously been catalogued and dusted down, and amazingly the original pigments of colour have been preserved on what is Amarna period art that went out of favour and was reused as fill material for later constructions. The excavation reports of when and where they were located might be interesting from a revisionist angle. However, in this instance the author is only concerned with the art aspect, and especially where it depicts the clothing of Queen Nefertiti. She wears a pleated dress with a red sash tied around her midriff and ends trailing down to her lower legs, and is depicted in a variety of wigs, or headgear. One of these is the colour of blue and has two longer pieces hanging down on both sides of her face with ringlets, and a longer piece hanging down from the back of her head. At the bottom is a cobra, a symbol of protection. Another wig is black with ringlets. She also wears a crown with tall tail feathers and on her forehead, a double cobra. She wears bracelets decorated with the cartouche of the Aten disc and they are brightly coloured – possibly reflecting that in real life they were made of gold studded with jewels. Once again we may note the Aten disc is invariably red but has yellow rays (and red rays) but the author also notes that the colour of red had an unknown significance to the ancient Egyptians as bodies are very often painted red, and even the desert is depicted as red (rather than as yellowish sand). There appears to be no doubt the Aten represents an aspect of the Sun, an aspect that went out of fashion when Akhenaten died – but what exactly was it that caused an abberation in the religion of the Egyptians? (go to )

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