The paintings on Nefertiti and Shabtis are both renowned Egyptian paintings. They are both ancient paintings and had different significance to the Egyptian culture. These paintings differ in terms of size, symbolism and other functions.
One of the paintings is a full painting, while the other is only the bust. Shabtis according to the Egyptian culture were made of simple material such as single molds with little details. However, the shabtis shown on the painting is made of limestone, which means that it was an indication that it was from the tomb of a wealthy person.
Many differences can be drawn from the two paintings
Nefertiti is an Egyptian art painted on limestone, 1’8’’ in height and is found in the Egyptian Museum in Berlin. Nefertiti represents a prominent wife. She is portrayed as an elegant beauty. She has a pensive expression and delicate long neck. The first unfinished portrait of this elegant beauty was first found in Thutmose’s workshop (Kleiner, p47).
This painting is done on a limestone and it represents Akhenaton’s beauty queen. The name of this beauty queen means that the beautiful one has arrived. It exhibits a similar expression of entranced musing, mannered sensitivity, and the delicacy of its curved contours. The left eye socket lacks the inlaid eyeball, which makes the portrait look like a kind of a demonstration piece.
The portrait has an elegant bust, which means that it may have be comparing to a flower, which is still on its stalk that is slender, but is embroidered by the weight of the crown that is laid on the head of the sculpture. The bust is outstanding in that it is used for illustrating the Ancient Egyptians had regarding realistic facial proportions it is also exaggerated by the length of the serpentine neck.
The sculpture is adjusted to fit the actual likes of the ancient era portrait standard of a spiritual beauty. Nefertiti was an influential woman who frequently appeared in decorations of the temple and she not only equals her husband in size but also sometimes wore the pharaonic headgear.
The family portraiture of this portrait represents the sunken relief stele of the royal family, which perhaps is from the private shrine. The style used in this portrait is familiar with from the colossus of Akhenaton. The undulating curves represent the rigid lines and the figures possessed by the prominent bellies that were seen in the kings (Margaret, p123).
Shabtis Sennedjem is an Egyptian piece of art whose painting is done on limestone with polychrome. Its height is 9.75 inches. The shabtis were of varying sizes, and the majorities were ornate, with symbolic statements. It represents a miniature servant figures who are placed at the tombs and are supposed do any hard labours.
The name means servant who is in the place of truth. It has a Height: 28.3 cm, Width: 9.95 cm and a Depth: 8.8 cm. Shabtis functioned as substitutes for the deceased, their masters, and were expected to take their owner’s place. They were used in carrying out physical work in the afterlife. This finely painted limestone shabti of Sennedjem indicates a mummiform stature holding agricultural apparatus.
The inscription is skilfully painted in an eight parallel lines of black colouring on white environment around the mummiform’s body and legs. The hieroglyphs bear the name of the owner. Sennedjem represented the prospect on the wall of his compartment, in order to magically identify his property with regard to the gods and the other deceased. However, they actually work there, that is something else. Ushabtis made for the rich were often small works of art; the great mass of cheaply made ushabtis became standardized made from single molds with little details.
In the New Kingdom of Egyptians, some of the old funeral customs have over time transformed. For instance, an anthropoid tomb shape became consistent, and the dead were provided with a petite Shabti statue. The Egyptians alleged that the statue would perform work for the dead in the afterlife.
Elite funerals were often filled with stuff of daily use. They believed that during the time of the dead in the tomb some of the equipments that they had disappeared. This was a proof of the existence of the afterlife.
Therefore, all daily life objects disappear from tombs (Farida, Abeer, Farid, and Mathaf, p67). They most often only were limited to a selection of items especially made for the funeral. Also, in later funerals, the figures of shabti statues augmented. This increased such that in some funerals, records more than four hundred statues were placed.
To augment these Shabti statues, the departed could be buried with many different types of mysterious figurines to guard them from damage. Although the types of funeral goods transformed and altered all the way through prehistoric times in the Egyptian history. Their functions to protect the dead and provide nourishment to the afterlife remained a universal purpose.
Unlike Shabtis, the bust of Nefertiti is about 47 centimeters, which is approximately 19 inches tall. It weighs about 20 kilograms. It is based on the limestone core. The face of the painting is entirely symmetrical. It is almost intact under scrutiny. However, it can be observed that the inlay presented in the right eye is evidently more that it is present in the left eye.
Through close observation of the pupil of the right eye, it can be seen that it is made of inserted quartz that is highlighted with black paint. This inserted quartz is fixed to the eyehole using beeswax. The disappearance of the eyeball can be attributed to the age of the queen and it can also mean that the eyeball was lost during the ruins.
However, a close search has been made which has seemed to have futile results. The locale of the eye-socket is plain limestone. Nefertiti wears the distinct characteristic azure crown, which is known as the Nefertiti top crown. This crown has a golden diadem band. The band is looped in the region of the head forming horizontal like ribbons. These ribbons are joining at the back of the crown, which makes look like a feminine fashion.
Close study of the face, a cobra from the Uraeus origin can be seen over the brow of the face, which is broken in this painting. There is an interesting wide collar presented on the sculpture. This collar symbolizes the attire of the queen that is of royal origin. The ears of the sculpture have also been spoiled a little bit. One of the ears of the sculpture appears old and the texture looks rough.
Prominent artists have suggestions that with this painting of this elegant and well-designed bust, Thutmose may have been indicating and referencing it to a weighty flower on its trim sleek stalk by overstating the weight of the crowned head. This is also superimposed by the length of the almost serpentine neck.
Most of other Egyptian paintings had horizontal shoulders. For example, the painting of the Ushabtis had horizontal shoulders. Nefertiti had vertical shoulders, which was not common with the Egyptian artisans. Analysts have stipulated that the new approach seen in the Nefertiti ruined, is part of changes introduced by Akhenaten during his reign. Akhenaten is the renowned husband of Nefertiti.
According to literature, Nefertiti bust is a solemn reflection of the classical Egyptian art style. “It indicates the deviation from eccentricity and strangeness of the Amarna art style, which was developed and during Akhenaten’s reign” (Margaret, p123). Till the present times, no one knows the initial function of the bust. According to the theory, it is possible that the bust could be a model.
In conclusion, there are many differences between the sculpture paintings. Thought they are both similar in that they are both made of limestone and that they were both used by the rich people. Ushabtis unlike the Nefertiti is a piece of art with little details as it represented the servant.
The painting has folded arms, which is a sign of submission. They are small and are made of cheap material which is significant for its use. The headgear that is on Nefertiti’s head is a sign of superiority and it is portrayed by the Pharaonian golden headgear. Both paintings are different in terms of texture the measurements and size as well as their use and significance to the Egyptian culture. From the above differences and similarities observed, it can be concluded that the two paintings are different.
Farida. A., Abeer E., Farid S. A., and Mathaf A. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo: a walk through the alleys of ancient Egypt. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2005.
Kleiner S. F. Gardner‘s Art Through the Ages. Stamford: Cengage Learning, 2009.
Margaret. “Statues of Tutankhamun, Akhenaten, & Nefertiti stolen from the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. An Egyptologist’s blog about everything ancient Egyptian.” The Eloquent Peasant. Feb. 2011. 18 Sept. 2011