CFFC: Animal Art

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the topic Non-Alive Animals. Of course, any representation of an animal has a real animal in mind as the artist creates it. But the rendition may be very close in appearance to the real animal, or it may be whimsical, or abstract. It all depends on the craftsman’s talent and point of view.

It was hard to choose photos for this post – so many to choose from! Everywhere I go, locally or abroad, there is animal art. Animals have been subjects for every kind of art imaginable for thousands of years…

Such as the first known painting in the world, a painting of Egyptian geese on papyrus at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo,

and the god Horus, usually represented as a hawk, at the Temple of Horus in Edfu, Egypt.

Also at the Egyptian Museum is a throne of King Tutankhamun, whose tomb was not found until 1922, with most of its grave goods intact – it hadn’t been subjected to many tomb robberies!

This elaborate throne contains many symbols and images of gods, such as twin lions on the front. One of ancient Egypt’s sacred symbols was the scarab beetle, depicted in the cartouche on the front of the arm; the hieroglyphics within the cartouche generally are names of kings, so this may have been Tuthankhamun’s. Embracing the throne of either side are the wings of the vulture, a bird considered to be a protector of kings. In this case, he represents the king-god himself, wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.

The ancient Chinese civilization also had many animal representations, one of the most common being the guardian lion. This one is in front of a restaurant, House of Szechwan, in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Generally depicted in pairs, guardian lions stood in front of imperial palaces, tombs, temples, government buildings, and the homes of the wealthy. The concept was to show the emotion of the animal, in this case ferocity, as a symbol of protection.

Deriving from this Chinese custom, there are people today who have a pair of lions as lawn ornaments, like this one in Des Plaines. He might look more ferocious if freshly painted!

Here are another example of a Des Plaines lawn ornament, this cute little bird sitting on an orb.

There were many whimsical animals on display for sale or as decoration in the charming small town of Poulsbo, Washington, north of Tacoma.

In Evanston, Illinois, there is a little known museum called the American Toby Jug Museum, which we discovered during Chicago’s annual Open House in October. Toby Jugs are ceramic figures, usually depicting well known persons, but also animals. The history of the toby jug, or philpot, dates back to 18th century potters in Staffordshire, England and was popularized by colonists in the United States. The top of each toby jug has a spout for pouring, but nowadays, these figurines are primarily for ornamentation or collections.

After the wedding we attended near Poulsbo, Washington, we spent a day in Tacoma before returning to Seattle for our flight home. There is a beautiful Museum of Glass there, which has many objects designed by the famous Dale Chihuly, but there is also a fine collection of glass sculptures by other artists, such as this beautiful horse.

Horses are the subject of many works of art, including statues of famous heroes mounted on horses in many European cities, but I am only including two 2-dimensional renditions, one a drawing of a palomino I drew a few days ago, and another one at a short film display at the Ij (Eye) Museum in Amsterdam.

While in Amsterdam, we visited the Oude Kerk, the oldest building in Amsterdam, founded circa 1213 CE. Under the seats of the choir were unique carvings – some rather bawdy! – including this one of a pig.

Most people love animals, and there are many examples of whimsical animals to delight human sensibilities. In the gardens behind Melk Abbey in Austria are some cute creatures, mostly fantastical combinations of human and animal, but there was this turtle:

In Passau, Germany, which we had visited the previous day while on our Viking European cruise, while walking around town on our own, we came across a dachshund museum! Big and little dachshund statues were in front of it.

Who could resist being delighted by several painted cows in the town across from Mont St-Michel in France? Here is one of them, my personal favorite (I love that bright blue udder!).

Our daughter loves Hello Kitty, and for her bridal shower, Hello Kitty was the theme! I bought these as party favors.

Some animal sculptures are cute,

At Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles, Illinois

but some can be a bit intimidating!…

Giant spider at Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

and some are reminders of favorite movies, such as this groundhog in Woodstock, Illinois, where Groundhog Day was filmed.

Worship in the Middle East

Frank Jansen at Dutch Goes the Photo has selected worship as his photo challenge theme for Holy Week. I share the sadness of the world for the devastating fire at Notre-Dame de Paris. But there are many holy places around the world that inspire awe where people worship.
Below are photos of worship from Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and the ancient Egyptian religion.


Prayer at the symbolic tomb of King David (not his real tomb) – Jerusalem, Israel



The Western Wall (or the Wailing Wall) in Jerusalem is the only remaining vestige of the ancient temple of Jerusalem. Every day people come here to pray for loved ones, either those lost or those far away. It is customary to write the name of the person you are praying for on a scrap of paper and insert it into a crack in the wall. Every week these papers are collected by rabbis and kept in a sacred place – they are never thrown away. When a person is finished praying at the wall, they walk backwards, still facing the wall. Some maintain this all the way across the square; others after a short distance from the wall.


A Muslim man praying in the “mihrab” at Al-Azhar Mosque – this niche in the wall of a mosque indicates the direction of Mecca. Muslims must face Mecca when they pray.


Open courtyard at Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, Egypt, with two of its minarets rising up behind. Five times a day, verses from the Koran are broadcast from these minarets, calling Muslims to prayer. 


Altar at the Church of the Virgin Mary (or the “Hanging Church”), a Coptic Orthodox church in Cairo. Those of Orthodox faith do not have statues in their churches, which are considered idolatry. Instead they have icons, or images, of the Holy Family, disciples and saints.


At the Garden Tomb site in Jerusalem (where it is believed that Jesus was buried), groups of Christian pilgrims gather for holy communion.  The “wine” (grape juice, actually) was served in tiny cups made of olive wood, which we were given to keep as a remembrance.

The ancient Egyptians had a pantheon of gods that they worshipped, and many of their temples contain images of pharaohs and others worshipping the gods.


Altar and shrine in the sanctuary of the Temple of Horus in Edfu, Egypt. Horus was one of the most important gods for the Egyptians and is often depicted with the head of a falcon.


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A typical scene portraying a pharaoh making offerings to a god. The image on this pillar in Kom Ombo, Egypt shows the pharaoh (left) making an offering to Horus, the falcon god (right).


Akhenaten was considered the “heretic” king because he tried to introduce monotheism to the Egyptian religion. He banned the worship of many gods, claiming that Aten (the Sun, represented by a disk with rays flowing downward) was the one and only true god. In this relief at the Egyptian Antiquities Museum in Cairo, Akhenaten (in front) is shown worshipping Aten, along with his wife, Nefertiti, and two of their daughters, by offering up lotus flowers (the sacred flower of ancient Egypt) to the sun god. After Akhenaten’s death, the Egyptians reverted back to worshipping their many beloved gods.

Journey to Egypt, Part 15: Edfu and the Temple of Horus

December 29, 2018

After a relaxing morning cruising the Nile on the Aida, after lunch we were ready for more discoveries. We docked at the city of Edfu, where we were transported to the Temple of Horus via horses and carriages!
Our driver:
The horses clip-clopped through the dusty streets of Edfu.

Mosque as seen from the temple complex:
DSC_0342We arrived at the temple where Mohamed bought us tickets.20181229_142112d.jpg
Edfu Temple, or the Temple of Horus, having been dedicated to the god Horus (who was later adopted by the Greeks as Apollo), was built in the Ptolemaic Dynasty. It was begun in 237 BCE and finished in 57 BCE, during the period of Greek and Roman rule of Egypt. It is one of the better preserved of the ancient temples.  It was built on the site of a smaller temple, also dedicated to Horus. A ruined pylon east of the current site is part of the original structure.
The present temple, originally contained a pillared hall, two transverse halls, and a barge sanctuary surrounded by chapels. The exterior walls are covered with texts that give details about the building’s construction.
The entrance of the pylon is flanked by a pair of statues of Horus depicted as a falcon.

Of course, we had to have a touristy photo taken standing in front of the statue of Horus! The falcon wears the “double crown” – the red and the white, signifying the union of all Egypt.

The doorway leads to the hypostyle hall, with columns typical of that Ptolemaic period, meaning that they have a variety of capitals (tops) – palm-leaf, lotus, papyrus and composite capitals.

20181229_144130The bottoms of the columns, above the bases, are carved with leaves of the type found at the bases of various plants.

Beyond the hypostyle hall are a series of rooms. The last of these is the temple’s sanctuary.20181229_150123
The sanctuary contains a shrine of syenite (an igneous rock) that would have housed the statue of the god set in a smaller shrine made of gilded wood, and in front of the shrine is an altar.

The interior of the temple is decorated with scenes of divinities and kings making offerings to one another.  There are also scenes of the conflict between the gods Horus and Seth, a theme throughout ancient Egyptian history.


The features of the figures in this relief have been scratched out, often by early Christians who thought that they could obliterate the influence of the Egyptian gods and rob them of their power. However, they could not read hieroglyphic writing that described these scenes in detail.

The hieroglyphics on the walls describe the building of the temple and the religious interpretation of this temple. Edfu (163)
Every surface is covered with images and hieroglyphic writing.
DSC_0344Colors were visible in some places, especially on ceilings and lintels.


The vulture with its wings spread in combination with the cobra on the ceiling of a temple signified protection for the pharaoh.


I noticed at Edfu, unlike at other temples (at least that I noticed) there were reliefs that looked 3-dimensional: legs are rounded and arm muscles gently curve outward.
Edfu (5)
Edfu (51)
The Temple at Edfu also contains a “Nilometer” which was a method of measuring the height of the Nile River during flood season. If the water was too low, there would be famine; if too high, there would be destruction. Markings were made to show the ideal height of the river. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)
Edfu Temple-nilometer
The flood season was extremely important on the Egyptian calendar and many rituals were associated with it.  The Nile was and still is the lifeblood of Egypt. As in many temples and tombs, there are scenes showing the pharaoh and the gods in sacred boats.
Edfu (61) - scene with boats
In spite of the temple being relatively intact, there are still sections that are in the process of excavation and restoration.

The backside of the temple, with magnificent large carvings (photo courtesy of Wikipedia):
Edfu Temple-rear.jpg
The photo below shows the position of the temple relative to the town of Edfu. When discovered, it would have been covered with sand and the town built up around it.
Of course, as we were leaving, we had to endure the hawking of many vendors (you can’t get in and out of the site without going through a line of shops).

We got back into our horse-drawn carriages which took us back to the boat dock. We watched the sunset over Edfu and enjoyed a delicious dinner onboard the Aida.

Journey to Egypt, Part 14: Cruise to Edfu

December 29, 2018

Last night, our first night on our Nile cruise, I slept better than I have since the beginning of the trip! I loved my bed in our stateroom and the temperature was not too hot nor too cold (although the people in the staterooms across from ours did complain that their rooms were too cold), and it’s not stuffy like hotel room air. The pillows are perfect.

There were two choices for breakfast: the buffet in the dining area, or an omelet made to order out on the deck (of course, we could combine the two).


Omelet station on deck of the Aida

We spent the first half of the day cruising the Nile on our way upriver to Edfu. It was a relaxing morning.


Fisherman off el Hegz Island, where we had moored for the night.


Besides fishermen, we saw large cruise ships…


Three types of Nile River boats: a dahebeya, a fishing boat and a cruise ship

…and a heron on an island of flotsam.

Most of the time, the sails of the Aida were not unfurled; a dahabeya does not have a motor, and using only the power of wind would require the helmsman to tack, zigzagging across the river, which would cause delays to our itinerary. However, they agreed to put the sails up and we got into the tug boat so we could see the Aida with its sails raised. We were able to take photos from all angles.



This photo shows another dahabeya going upriver with a tugboat in front, and hauling a small fishing boat behind.


After we were back on the Aida, the helmsman gave us a photo opp by having us pretend to be controlling the sails!


The upper deck of the Aida

More cruise ships and freighters:
When we returned to our stateroom before lunch, the steward had created towel art in the form of a lotus flower.
Lunch was a colorful buffet.

The scenery along the shore became more urban as we approached the city of Edfu.


This was a mausoleum on a hill, built for some rich man.

Finally the Aida approached the dock at Edfu where we would disembark to visit the Temple of Horus.


When we got off the Aida, we walked along this fence to where our rides to the temple were waiting.

One Word Sunday: Vertical

Debbie S. at Travel With Intent has a challenge called One Word Sunday. This week the word is vertical.

You know spring is coming when you see vertical shoots emerging from the ground in your garden! Des Plaines, Illinois, USA20190318_161813.jpg
Vertical columns at the ruins of Caesarea, Israel
Upright slab (stela) with vertical symbols at Temple of Horus, Edfu, Egypt
Minaret and satellite tower, Edfu, Egypt