Sunday, March 5, 2017

Currency - Egypt - 5 Pounds - Year 2015

Item code: 128/EG-2

Ahmed Ibn Tulun Mosque, Cairo It is arguably the oldest mosque in the city surviving in its original form, and is the largest mosque in Cairo in terms of land area. The mosque was commissioned by Ahmad ibn Tulun, the Abbassid governor of Egypt from 868 AD to 884 AD whose rule was characterized by de facto independence.
Pharaonic wall relief - frieze "Bounty of River Nile"; Wall relief describing daily activities.
Mask of Pharaoh King Tutankhamoun.
145 x 69 mm

Obverse Description:
Ahmed Ibn Tulun Mosque

Ahmad ibn Tulun (Arabic: أحمد بن طولون ‎‎; ca. 20 September 835 – 10 May 884) was the founder of the Tulunid dynasty that ruled Egypt and Syria between 868 and 905. The Mosque of Ahmad Ibn Ţulun (Arabic: مسجد أحمد بن طولون‎‎) is located in Cairo, Egypt. The Mosque was built in 878–880 under the supervision of the Mesopotamian Christian architect Ibn Katib al-Farghani. A royal palace adjoined the mosque, and the rest of the city was laid out around them. Beside government buildings, it included markets, a hospital (al-bimāristān) that provided services free of charge, and a hippodrome.

The spiral minaret of Ibn Tulun Mosque

The grand ceremonial mosque was intended as the focal point of Ibn Ţūlūn's capital, al-Qata'i, which served as the center of administration for the Tulunid dynasty. The mosque originally was backed by ibn Ţūlūn's palace, and a door adjacent to the minbar allowed him direct entry to the mosque. Al-Qata'i was razed in the early 10th century, AD, and the mosque is the only surviving structure. The mosque was constructed in the Samarran style common with Abbasid constructions. The mosque is constructed around a courtyard, with one covered hall on each of the four sides, the largest being on the side of the qibla, or direction to Mecca. The original mosque had its ablution fountain (sabil) in the area between the inner and outer walls. A distinctive sabil with a high drum dome was added in the central courtyard at the end of the thirteenth century by the Sultan Lajīn.

Reverse Description: 

Egyptian wall paintings and relief art

Offering perfumes and lily flowers wall relief
The extent to which the ancient history of Egypt was recorded by their artists is remarkable. Ancient Egyptian art displays a vivid representation of the Egyptian’s lifestyle, spiritual rituals and belief systems. The artists weren’t concerned with representing the world with any realism or having a sense of depth in their art. The Egyptian art was primarily concerned, above all, with ensuring the continuity of the universe, the gods, the king and the people. The artists therefore depicted things not as they saw them but as idealized symbols intended to be more significant and enduring than was otherwise possible in the real world.

Nubian warriors, Medja Temple Relief, Nubia

any of the fundamentals of Egyptian art were established at the very beginning of Egyptian history and changed little over time. Subject matter also remained relatively unchanged over long periods of time. However, Egyptian art did not remain completely static over the three thousand years of pharaonic history. Despite the limited repertory of subject matter, Egyptian artists valued variation and avoided producing exact copies of the same forms. Essentially though the human figure was a composite with the face, limbs, waist and buttocks shown in profile, while the chest and shoulders were in full view facing the viewer as were one eye and an eyebrow.

A wall painting in the tomb of Queen Nefertari. Isis/Hathor leads the queen by the hand.
19th dynasty c.1290-1220 BC. – West Thebes.

The temple religious ceremonies were accurately depicted in their art ensuring their preservation in the future and reinforcing the recollection of royal deeds. Art portrayals of offering gifts were an act of reverence to their Gods, an affirmation of abundance and it also meant these items would be available in the next world. The images of protective deities found in houses, palaces and temples were created as powerful shields against the malign forces of the universe. Great emphasis was placed on decorating tomb walls with reliefs or painted scenes to ensure the perpetuation of life and tradition. Symbolism had an important role in their art, ranging from the pharaoh’s regalia (symbolizing his power to maintain order) to the individual symbols of Egyptian gods and goddesses. The highly symbolic hieroglyphics with more than 700 symbols was omnipresent in their art, appearing on both statues and wall reliefs. The hieroglyphic texts within any scene typically formed an integral part of the whole composition.

A relief commemorating Hatshepsut having frankincense trees planted in the courts of her Deir el Bahari mortuary temple.
Most of the walls of the temples and palaces were decorated with art, either painted on a flat surface or employing sculptured relief. This could have been a raised relief where the background was cut away or a sunken relief where the figures were cut back to be lower than the background which was more suitable in bright light. The more important artworks featured sculptured reliefs. Egyptian art used hierarchical proportion, where the size of figures indicated their relative importance. The ultimate destination for Ancient Egyptians was the ‘great garden’, the Elysian fields of Osiris. Images of the god Osiris were popular and added to tomb walls, either painted or carved, to invoke the protective and guiding spirit of Osiris. All the Egyptian Gods had consistent representation and carving their Gods into the living rock of the tomb gave it a tangible form which became an object, where it was believed the deities could manifest a presence.

Painting of a winged cobra from the staircase leading to the burial chamber of Queen Nefertari. It is offering protection to a shen sign, symbol of infinity.

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