Why are the noses missing from some Egyptian sculptures?
One very practical reason is that when a statue falls forward, the nose is the first point to hit the ground and it will snap off. There are also more complicated reasons. In some cases, scholars can see that the noses were broken off deliberately with tools. The ancient Egyptians believed tomb statues served as an eternal home for the deceased’s soul. Smashing the nose effectively “killed” the statue. A tomb robber or other enemy of the deceased might break the statue’s nose to destroy the soul and prevent the deceased from taking revenge.
I used to know the answer to this but have forgotten. Why are the bodies shown facing toward us and the head and feet sideways?
When you see images like that, you're actually looking at multiple perspectives at once. The Ancient Egyptians would do this to communicate all of the most important aspects of an image/figure. In the case of people, they wanted to show both arms in action and, at the same time, the legs walking forward, and the face looking toward something else on the panel resulting in some strange body contortions.
Ahl, so that the parts can all be shown in their best "light."
Ancient Egyptian art frequently showed people in idealized forms, but you might notice of the some of the scribe statues, apply rolls of flab to an otherwise svelte frame as a way to demonstrate success and maturity as scribes were elite members of society.
I did notice that and I was going to ask why they had a little pudge!
You're very observant! It was basically a symbolic representation of age. Scribes were revered as some of the most learned in Ancient Egyptian society and it took them many years to achieve that status. Sometimes, men who were not scribes by trade would still have statues made that showed them seated this way to make themselves look scholarly. The Scribe Statue of Amunhotep, Son of Nebiry is an example of this.
Where is that? Both busts of Isis have a small paunch, too, I noticed.
Amunhotep is in the central "Orientation Gallery" within the Egyptian collection. He is a seated white limestone statue underneath the big ceiling mural. That might be to help illustrate her fertility as a mother goddess.
I don't see a paunched belly on Amunhotep, but what are the lines on his chest.
That's his sagging skin of old age. He's more wrinkly than paunchy.
Ah, thanks. I had noticed a slight belly on Isis.
In the case of Isis, the shape of her belly is common to many depictions of women and probably is seen as a differentiation between the shape of idealized men and women especially in the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. It also something that stems from a representation of fertility.
Yes. Right as a representation of fertility
Fertility was very important to the Ancient Egyptians and all of their contemporaries in the ancient world. Numerous symbols developed to allude to the idead.
Were scribes important?
Scribes held high position in Egyptian society and their literacy was a valued skill which contributed to why they are are shown in a way that highlights their occupation.
Why are the nose often damaged in the Egyptian sculptures? Why would they make the nose then turn around and break it?
Well the person who made the sculpture is often not the same person who defaces it. For example, a
tomb robber might remove the nose of a statue to keep the person's soul from exacting revenge on them.
It usually happens much later in the life of the statue. For example, it was popular to deface statues and depictions of unpopular or heretical rulers after their reign like Akhenaten or Hatshepsut.
Tell me more.
This statue shows Amunhotep, son of Nebiry, with the typical accessories of a scribe, which show his intelligence despite not actually working as a scribe in his lifetime.
You can see another sign of his importance in the lines on his chest, which show his age and wealth in a very stylized way.