Sunday, April 16, 2006

Alabaster Sphinx

Sweetie and I did some more exploring on Friday. Kind of embarrassing that there is this wealth of riches just 45 minutes from us that we've never explored.

Our first stop was Memphis, which was one of the capitols way back when. Unfortunately there's nothing left of the city, but there is some fabulous statuary. This is my favorite: the Alabaster Sphinx.

That's little me to give you some perspective. This sphinx was carved out of one huge piece of alabaster. They don't know who it's supposed to represent, there are no cartouches or markings. Our guide said she likes to think it's Queen Hatshepsut, since the face is a tad feminine. All the pharoahs were clean shaven and wore false beards, so this can as easily be a woman as a man. Doesn't this sphinx have a Mona Lisa smile? I think she's gorgeous.

We also visited Saqqara, which has some rubbish heaps of pyramids that were built with relatively tiny stones that haven't withstood the test of time. Plus this, the Step Pyramid, which was the architect Imhotep's first attempt to get a pyramid shape.

Yes, Imhotep. We've been hearing that name a lot since he contributed a great deal to this area. It also happens to be the name of the mummy in "The Mummy" which we actually watched last week. Kinda had to. Love that movie, the new one with Brendan Frasier. It's got romance and humor and thrills and chills. The heroine is a plucky librarian. The end isn't over-the-top stupid or violent. A perfect movie in my book.

Here's the photo I wanted to post of the inside of the bead store from my trip on Thursday.

Surprisingly enough, I haven't bought any turquoise here. I don't actually like real turqoise - it's a bit too green for me. I just realise this now because I've been having an ongoing "battle" with friend Rachael about the color turquoise which she claims not to like. You know what, Rach, you were right. The photos you sent me really had true turquoise colors in them (too green). I don't like that real color. I like the fake turquoise that's much bluer...

Finn asked about scarabs. Here are a few from my collection. The four smaller ones are beads, the larger ones are for display.

Scarabs, the real ones, are dung beetles. Yes, they play in poo. They push and roll it into a ball, and put their eggs in there to hatch, bringing forth life. To the ancient Egyptians, the rising sun was known as Khepri and he appeared as a giant scarab rolling before him the orb of the sun. So scarabs represented the renewal of life. Scarab amulets were placed over the heart on mummies in order to help stimulate the wearer's rebirth into eternal life.

So scarabs are commonly found in Egypt and given as gifts. Not the real scarabs - the faience, stone, or alabaster varieties. I've gotten a few. A woman I met, an American who had recently married an Egyptian, said that everyone who came to visit them brought a scarab.


Jan said...

Thanks for including these occasional travel posts. They're wonderful. I especially like the stepped pyramid photo.
The bead shop? *swoon* Do you have a spare bedroom? (Kidding!)

Sharon said...

Wonderful pictures again, Tonya! I like the idea that the Sphinx is a woman, too. The only thing that would prove it positively would be for the nails on the toes to be painted! The perspective of the picture is fantastic too!

Evelyn aka Starfishy said...

Certainly I have enjoyed your travel photos and running commentary/explainations! It is great that you are able to get out and about and see some of the sights during the "off" season when it is less busy - my favorite time to see something, although some places looked plenty crowded!



Dawn said...

Oh what an amazing place that bead store is! Oh my gosh - makes me want to drop all my projects, get some beads and do some beading on a quilt! Geez, I'll never get all these projects done! And all the touristy things your seeing - I'm so glad you are taking pictures for us! At least I'll get to see Egypt this way!

Dawn said...

Oh I forgot to tell you - I like the green torquoise! But I like green! Wait till you see what I got for my birthday! I'll post it today!