Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Temple of Horus at Edfu
Some background: we visited the temple at midnight under May's full moon. Hence the full moon in the painting, although I was so awed by the colossal "supermoon" last month that I took the license to use that instead.
The painting depicts the view of the entryway pylons from inside the temple in the courtyard. This is basically what it looks like, except the Eye of Horus is not on the pylon, and the statue of Horus is elsewhere in the temple (if memory serves, this one is right outside the Hypostyle Hall, but don't quote me on that).
The entire temple is all about the triumph of light over dark. In Egyptian mythology, Horus is the son of Osiris and Isis, and he kills his evil uncle Set, who had killed his brother Osiris in a fit of jealousy, cut his body into 14 pieces, and scattered him all over Egypt. Isis patiently goes in search of each piece, conjures Osiris by magic back together, and then Osiris goes on to rule the underworld. Each Egyptian king or pharoah was seen as the falcon god Horus, whose job it was to ensure the protection of Egypt from chaos and the continuation of ma'at (truth, justice, order).
But humankind faces a continual battle over darkness and light--the struggle of the Soul to evolve, be purified, and achieve mastery over our most base, selfish, and materialistic desires. Hence behind Horus I painted his shadow (what can I say, I like Carl Jung), ever present and looming. And hence the entire painting shows the interplay of darks and lights. However, the nighttime light (the moon) dominates the painting to display light's ultimate triumph, keeping darkness and the forces of evil in check. The Eye of Horus, a symbol of protection from dark forces, oversees it all.