Advent: December 10th

Today’s photo is of the Younger Memnon.

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This is the massive and majestic part statue of Ramesses II that stands in the British Museum.

It was one of the things I most wanted to see. It didn’t disappoint. Whilst I’m sure there were many, many items on display that I didn’t fully appreciate or understand the significance of, Ramesses effigy commands our attention and respect even in the confines of a London Museum. What it must have looked like in its original form…

The Younger Memnon was one of two statues flanking the doorway of Ramesses mortuary temple at Thebes – known now as the Ramesseum. It’s more than 3,000 years old, yet I was struck by the freshness of the statues face and torso, carved from one piece of granite. I sat to look at this piece for a while and although I was glad to be able to see it, there was something about it, haughty and yet melancholy. Perhaps because of it being pillaged from its original place (the head of the other statue is still at the Ramesseum) and because of the damage to it. The hole in the statue’s chest was allegedly made by Napoleon’s men as they attempted to take it for France. Some years later The British Consul Henry Salt employed an adventurer to plunder it for the British and successfully bring it to London – quite a feat.

I think this exhibit more than any other made me stop. It seemed so full of paradoxes that I had to process. Something I was so glad to be able to see and yet made me feel sad. Something so majestic and so symbolically omnipotent and yet so broken and tamed. Something so very ancient and yet so youthful-looking.

Something that was meant to inspire awe and terror in those who gazed upon it and yet the ordinariness of the tourists scurrying past, some barely giving but a glance at it on their way to someplace else…

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

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