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Expression of power in art - Essay Example

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Humankind has always been fascinated by the acquisition, possession and proclamation of power and authority. This fascination is reflected in the various monuments and works of art left behind by the great civilizations and kingdoms of the world. Expression is the purpose of any work of art…
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Download file to see previous pages A great deal of information about the Egyptian culture and religion can be gained from the pyramids. The most obvious function of the pyramids was to serve as funerary complexes for the pharaohs whose bodies were preserved and kept here with the provisions needed for their afterlife. The pyramids served as the ceremonial cites and places of worship where the people worship the deceased king as God. In the Egyptian culture since the king was considered God, the line between politics and religion was very thin. Pharaohs used the beliefs of the people on their godhood to command unquestioned obedience and authority. The Stepped Pyramid and mortuary precinct of Djoser, Saqqara, Egypt, was built between 2630-2611 BCE. The shape of the pyramid with the slopes on the four sides protruding inward into structures that are raised toward the highest point representing the Pharaoh, also shows how pharaohs were deified. These pyramids give us an understanding of the political and cultural structure of the kingdoms where the pharaoh was the single authority over the people and the affairs of the kingdom. The religion of the Egyptians centered on sun worship and their preoccupation with death and afterlife. Numerous symbolisms found in Egyptian art and hieroglyphics found on these pyramids points towards this idea. Egyptian art abounds with symbolism. The pharaoh's regalia symbolize power and his ability to control his environment. Colours also had special significance. While blue represented the river Nile, red represented power and authority and yellow represents the sun. These colors were used to show the pharaohs as all-powerful kings.
Roman art and architecture has a lot of value while studying the expression of power and authority through the medium of art. The Romans ruled a vast and diverse group of people of different cultures, languages and dialects. The best means to demonstrate their power to the masses and the other rulers was the use of art. In specific we will discuss the Trajan's column erected between 106 and 113 AD by Roman emperor Trajan. This monument is an overt statement about his conquests and military power. The historical episodes are depicted in a sweeping narrative running around the huge column. Trajan is depicted many times in many different contexts, but his form is always majestic and larger than life. The narrative is the story of his courage, accomplishments and power. One can see very clearly that his images are carved with this purpose in mind. The details of the clothes, armor and shields of both armies are clearly distinguished and Trajan is depicted as the victor in no unclear terms. The fact that the enemies are not stripped of their dignity shows the way Trajan wanted to be portrayed as a good king throughout his empire.
The expression of power is part and parcel of most Islamic monuments and forts. The gilt domes of the worship places are symbols of not only the holy place but also the rich kings and patrons who have been instrumental in building them. In a culture in which religion and state functioned together, complementing the growth of each other, it was only natural that their art had both religious and political connotations. The decorations on these buildings comprise a wide array of symbols depicting power. The high and mighty towers with huge gates and winding walls are also an expression of the military and defense might of the rulers.
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