the girl and her doll
We create art inspired by what we see around us, what touches us, what we live with…
The children at valley of the nobles on the west bank of the nile near Luxor carry around dolls that they sell to tourists for a fraction of an Egyptian pound. The strangest thing about these dolls is that they are almost copies of the girls themselves. They are sewn from rags and dressed in miniatures of their own colorful homemade dresses. I still treasure the doll I bought from them and take with me from country to country wherever I move.
I wonder what it will be like going back there after the 15 years. Will these dolls still exist? Or are the children selling dolls mass produced in China? I sure hope not…
the children in valley of the nobles
Sometimes the now, the moment, the present, must take precedence over the old, the past, the gone…
We were at the valley of the Nobles, an area of stone cut tombs dedicated to the nobles and high officials of ancient Egypt on the west bank of the Nile, and near the entrance to the tombs, my attention was caught by wave of color and giggles. A group of children in bright colored clothing were trying to get my attention to sell me rag dolls that they fashion in their image. I saw their faces, began to speak to them in Arabic and I was suddenly utterly charmed by their effervescence and the tombs were forgotten. Life was calling and it demanded my attention. They took my hand and led me to their tiny one room houses, one house after the other, introducing me to their parents, laughing and running around me and the whole time singing a song that they made up on the spot about my name. It was a precious happening for me and one that I will carry with me forever. At that moment, I followed my heart and decided that playtime with the living is way more important than seeing the old tombs of the dead.
Nubian woman in green scarf
We rode camels into the south of Egypt and there we met the Nubians.
Nubia, the desert region between southern Egypt and northern Sudan, along the Nile river and home of the Noba people, is where I met this beautiful woman. A stark contrast to the almost inhuman and eerie remains of ancient Egypt, the Nubians are full of gentle smiles, simple ways, and colorful surroundings. Most of the homes were painted in light blue and the faces radiated a glowing brown. Heirs of old kingdoms and a complex relationship with ancient Egypt, the Nubians have a great air of mystery around them and their ancient culture.
the burial mask of Tutankhamun~ Cairo museum
The journey to Egypt was more a journey of feelings, sensing and of connection than that of collecting brain information. There were places and things in Egypt that let me ‘feel’ so much more than others. One of these beacons was the tomb of Tutankhamun.
The son of Akhenaten, king at age 9, reformer of religion from god Aten to god Amun, youngest Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty of ancient Egypt, the young boy king was to die at age 18. There has been so much written and said about this enigmatic king and so much of it fails to meet logic.
One thing that was for me undeniable standing in the tomb where Tutankhamun’s mummy was found, despite it being a much simpler tomb than that of other kings, a soft and gentle cloud wrapped itself around the place and a great quiet, a stillness that I feel even now as I write this. The mummy was housed in 7 levels of gold and wood and it was discovered in 1922 in the Valley of the Kings by Howard Carter.
the alabaster canopic jars of Tutankhamun
the burial mask of the boy king
Nofet~noble woman and princess
There is something so entirely remarkable about the statues and the art you see from ancient Egypt. Putting aside any feelings of eeriness and discomfort, the art feels somehow, yes, alive. It radiates, it vibrates, it holds your gaze, it stirs deeply…
And after doing all of that, it makes you think, question, dwell and contemplate. Someone once put out the rather obvious but profound observation that can be easily missed: “Why are teeth never shown in ancien Egypt? What is that all about?”
The seated statues of Nofret (Nefret) and Ra-Hotep (noble prince and Pharaoh’s son and princess) from the 4th Dynasty of Egypt were photographed in the Cairo museum, they stand about 1.2 meters high and are remarkably well preserved. The light on Nefret’s face is from a passing by guide’s flashlight.
Nofret and Ra-Hotep~ Cairo Museum
The great pyramids at Giza
I went to Egypt with hundreds of questions and came back with thousands.
Egypt lives in children’s imaginations as the world of fantasy, of pharaohs, of mummies, of pyramids, of kings, of power, of ankhs, and I am yet to meet a child who hears about Egypt without falling prey to its enchantment.
Ancient Egypt is big, it is massive, it is impressive, and it can make you feel so small if you let it. Everything natural and human has a way of returning to the earth, our bodies do, our waters circle up to the skies and return, our seeds grow only to wither again and nourish the soil. Not Egypt. Egypt was always looking beyond the planet’s cozy atmosphere and towards the heavens. The pyramids are gigantic, pointy, sharp, were covered with shiny limestone that reflected and could be seen from space, the stars were charted in Egypt on every sarcophagus, on every tomb, and bodies were mummified to withstand time and to defy the laws of nature here on Earth. Was it because Egypt had other plans?
There are about 138 pyramids discovered in Egypt, the largest is Giza’s Khufu pyramid photographed above at sunrise, and is the only wonder of the ancient worlds that remains standing.