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Opening The Eyes And Opening The Mouth: The Utility Of Comparing Images In Worship In India And The Ancient Near East

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Chapter Summary

The enterprise began through an interest in the sculpture of Gudea, ruler of the city-state of Lagash toward the end of the third millennium b.c.e. Some 16 free-standing images, both seated and standing, were discovered in excavation at the satellite town of Girsu early in the 20th century, and are presently in the Louvre. The animate status of the Mesopotamian image-god or enshrined ruler-is attested by textual evidence for rituals of the &t;opening of the mouth&t; and the consequent opening of the eyes plus the rest of the sensorium that actually brought the image to life. The Mesopotamian tradition of an initial &t;mouth opening ceremony&t; is also documented in ancient Egypt-for royal statuary, and presumably also for divine based upon formal analysis: technique of casting or carving, physical properties, style, attribution, followed by the consequences of the above, images.

Keywords: ancient Egypt; casting technique; Mesopotamian tradition; sensorium



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