The Stele of Chaywet is an Egyptian work of art that was created between 2250 and 2000 B.C. It was carved in limestone and colored with pigment more than 4,000 years ago and is 22 x 27 x 5 3/4 in. (55.9 x 68.6 x 14.6 cm). Looking at a piece of art made so long ago was awe-inspiring for me. The Stele of Chaywet made me feel amazed at the arts that humans could make even so long ago and without the modern tools we have today.
The person in the Stele is the biggest object in the arrangement. The figure takes up a lot of space. We have to look at him right away because he is so large in relation to all the other objects in the Stele. This makes me feel like the person is the most important part of the composition of the artwork. Around him are less important objects like reeds and grass and pots. Some of these objects are very small. I thought it was interesting also that all the other objects are arranged close together. They overlap sometimes and it is hard to tell one object from another. However, the man is all alone in his part of the composition. He has a big box around him and a little bit of empty white background. The artist cleared out the space around the man so that he is alone and can stand out in the arrangement.
The lines of composition really impressed me. They are very precise and exact. The lines are very straight. This is very impressive because the Stele was made so long ago. The ancient Egyptians did not have the kinds of tools we have for making lines and still were able to make very precise and straight lines in the Stele. This made me feel amazed because it is hard to imagine how the Egyptians achieved such a precise composition with the technology they had available during their time. For example, the large figure of the man is holding a stick or pole that is almost perfectly straight. He is also standing in a box that has clean straight edges. Even his skirt is precise. It looks like a triangle. You can see from the composition of the skirt how the Egyptians were able to make precise compositions in art and also in the things they built like the pyramids.
The Egyptians also managed to make interesting colors to use in their artwork. It is amazing that even a Stele that is more than 4,000 years old still has noticeable and vivid colors that we can see in it. The figure’s skin is dark. The reeds are yellow and some of the pots are red or brown. The Egyptians had to make these colors by hand. They did not have paint to use like we have. Yet their colors have lasted all this time and are still vivid. The colors show not only what a piece of art is meant to look like but also what the world looked like for the Egyptians. They did not make the grass green but yellow. The man who is so big in the Stele is not left white. He is dark-skinned because he is Egyptian. The colors reflect what the real world looked like to the Egyptians. They were trying to make a piece of art that actually looked like the world and was not made up.
However, even though they wanted to make art that was realistic, they also put elements of style into the realistic work they created. One element is obviously the proportions of things. For example, the figure of the human man is huge in proportion to the things around him. This is an element of style that shows how the Egyptians valued humans and depictions of humans in art over other things like nature or words. There is an inscription and some ordinary objects also on the Stele, but nothing is given as much space to take up as the man. This shows how the Egyptians thought because it shows that they were very interested in humans. I found this interesting because it showed how they were very advanced in their thinking. They could think beyond just their natural surrounding and create art about concepts as well as just things. This is amazing for an ancient civilization and shows a level of advancement that the Egyptians were able to display through creating pieces of art.
However, it does look like the Egyptians had some limitations. The colors are bright but also very simple. There is not shading done through the colors. It seems like the colors were actually flat and depth was instead created from the carving. Actually, it is possible to see chisel marks and scrapes all over the Stele. That is probably partly because it is so old and has suffered from weather and time. The chisel marks made by the original Egyptian artist who created the Stele are actually very clean and neat. It is amazing because some of the Egyptian hieroglyphs on the Stele are very small and made of thin lines that must have been very hard to chisel into the limestone that the Stele is made out of. This shows again how precise and advanced the Egyptians were. There are no visible brushstrokes from the pigment, but the chisel marks are beautiful and deep. They are also subtle and varied. Chaywet, the large human figure, stands out more. He seems to be carved deeper into the limestone so that his image stands out higher. The food and reeds and pots are not chiseled as deeply into the limestone and therefore don’t have as much of a natural shadow. They do not stand out the way that the human figure does. Again, this shows the importance of the human, Chaywet. The Egyptians were trying to create something that would memorialize Chaywet for all of time and even with very simple technology they were able to do it.
Looking at all of the formal elements of the Stele, I feel amazed by what the Egyptians were able to accomplish. They had abstract concepts of art and wanted to create something that would memorialize Chaywet for all of time. More than 4,000 years later, the Stele memorializing Chaywet is still striking and beautiful. The Egyptians understood how to change things like proportions in order to make certain elements of a piece of art more prominent. They were able to both show something that was real and normal, and alter it in an abstract way to make their point. They combined painting, carving and words to make an amazing piece of art that would last through time and show their way of life and a man they considered to be great. At the same time, they made precise lines without having modern tools to make them with. This shows also that their society was very advanced. They could do math and create angle and lines that were perfect.
The Stele made me feel amazed. It was not just an amazing piece of art, but also said a lot about the Egyptian culture at the time that it was made more than 4,000 year ago. Even though it was made so long ago and with simple technology, the Egyptians were still able to make perfect lines. They also were able to use abstract ideas in their art. They valued humans and used a combination of proportions, colors and symbols (like the food and words) to show the special place Chaywet had in their society at the time that the Stele was created.