Online Study Guide Chapter 11

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Online Study Guide Chapter 11

Art has often been an expression of power or wealth. Governments and rulers throughout history have used art to assert influence, to glorify themselves, and to impress and intimidate others.

The status of a ruler is usually communicated through a number of ways in art: through an idealized image; the inclusion of symbols of authority or divinity; and compositional devices like size to further elevate the ruler.

Divine Rulers and Royalty

Figure 11-1, Menkaure and His Wife Queen Khammerernebty, Gizeh, Egypt, Dynasty IV, c 2600 BC, slate, approximately 4' 6.5 " high.

The Pharaoh and his wife are carved in the stiff frontal style traditionally reserved for royal portraiture. The solid, compact representation of the couple conveys their unshakable authority.

1. Women in Egypt: Menkaure and his wife, Queen Khamerernebty, Egypt, Dynasty IV, c. 2600 BC.

Chinese emperors were considered to be divine Sons of Heaven. See the detail of Yan Liben's Portraits of the Emperors in the Art and History in Context section at the end of this chapter.

Figure 11-2, Emperor Justinian and His Attendants, Ravenna, Italy, Church of San Vitale, c. 547, mosaic on the north wall of the apse.

Justinian's crown and purple cloak indicate his secular authority, while his halo and bowl used to administer the Eucharistic rite symbolizes his role as a religious leader.

1. Emperor Justinian and his attendants, Ravenna, Italy.

2. Another image of the Ravenna mosaic depicting the Emperor Justinian

Figure 11-3, Crowned Head of an Oni, Nigeria, Wunmonije Compound, Ife, Yoruba culture, 12th-15th century, zinc, brass.

This naturalistic head is believed to represent an"oni" or a Yoruba ruler. The lines on the face may indicate scarification or a veil.

1. Ife, Head of an Oni, Yoruba culture

To see the range of styles in African art, contrast the naturalistic quality of the Crowned Head of an Oni with the more abstracted style of the Reliquary Guardian Figure (Figure 10.20, page 262)

1. Reliquary Guardian Figure

Yoruba leaders today are identified by such headgear as the Great Beaded Crown of the Orangun-Ila, in Figure 14.25 (page 387). These contemporary crowns are ancient forms that may date back to those worn by the early onis.

1. Photo Essay on Yoruba

Jayavarman's likeness may have been the model for the Buddha faces on the Temple of Bayon at Angkor Wat (Fig. 6.16, page 129).

Figure 11-4, Jayavarman VII, Cambodia, province of Siemreap, Angkor region, late 12th or early 13th century CE. Bayon style. Sandstone head, 41 x 25 x 31 cm.
1. Jayavarman VII
Objects of Royalty and Prestige

Rulers have always surrounded themselves with symbols of power. While no specific material or object universally denotes status, the use of precious materials and high levels of craftsmanship is common. The objects themselves can possess divine significance.

Figure 11-5, Cloak and Feather Hat, Hawaii, 18th century. Museo de America, Madrid, Spain.

1. Hawaiian Artifacts

See Moctezuma's Headdress in Figure 11.32 (page 301), to compare Hawaiian and Aztec feather work.

Figure 11-6, Mesquakie Bear Claw Necklace, Tama, Iowa, USA, otter pelt, grizzly claws, glass beads, silk ribbon, 16 1/4 " long, 14 1/4" wide, 3 1/8 " high.

The highly prized grizzly bear claws from this necklace impart prestige onto the owner.

1. Mesquakie Bear Claw Necklace

Contemporary Political Leaders

Today's rulers rarely claim divine descent. Mass media has changed the way images of rulers are distributed.

Figure 11-6, Scenes from the film Triumph of the Will, Leni Riefenstahl, Germany, 1934.

The Nazi propaganda film documented a six day rally celebrating Adolf Hitler at Nuremberg. Director Reifenstahl created the first media politician of the modern age.

1. Numerous Scene Shots from the film Triumph of the Will, by Leni Riefenstahl

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