Statue of Kouros vs. Statue of Khafre

1505 words (6 pages) Essay

18th May 2020 Arts Reference this

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Human-statues have been made from a very long time, especially those of male figures. Statues of gods, kings, soldiers, martyrs, etc. We see it all the time. Anybody that is assumed to be of important significance to the history of Earth has been made in statue. This practice dates back to thousands of years. Of such statues two of them are strikingly similar from two different religions and cultures and from different time periods and eras. The statue of Kouros from the Greek culture and the Statue of Khafre from the Egyptian culture. Both these statues were made for the same reason and purpose. They were made as grave markers. They both show an ideal male figure, but they displayed different messages. The statue of Kouros tells us about how Greeks preferred the perfection of youth and how they perceived immortality by thoughts. The statue of Khafre, on the other hand, displays the power, wealth and reign the Pharaoh-god had achieved and where the statue was situated was believed to be the place Khafre’s soul would rest before his afterlife. Although, these statues come from different backgrounds, cultures, and religions they share some common traits and some differences from the point of view of art.

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The marble statue of a Kouros (youth) at the MET museum in New York is among the first human sculptures discovered from ancient Greece which dates back to the Archaic period (c.600-480 BCE). Kouros is a Greek term used for a standing statue of a youth male or a boy. Kouros were sculpted for the purpose of commemorating or grave marking of young Athenians. The statue was made in Archaic period and accurately represents the Archaic approach from that era. It is a human-sized statue of a young, muscular, and nude male which stands around six feet high and is made of marble. Kouros sculptures are carved nude and muscular to show the male structure and greatly emphasizes on the masculinity. The statue is rigid and the reason for it might be the less developed sculpting skills of the Greeks. The rigidness of the statue displays tension, i.e., the statue is extremely straight. Although they look rigid, the sculptors made sure they have a naturalistic view. The sculpture has rather large eyes which seems unreal. The statue is standing and displayed in a frontal pose with arms straight down at the side of the body with fists tightly clenched against the thighs. His left foot is forward which forms a contrapposto, this gives the statue a more human-like posture. Even though the left leg is forward in the statue, both the legs are perfectly extended and there is no knee bending in either of the knees which suggests that the left leg is providing support for the body. Apart from the forward left leg the statue is displayed in an extreme symmetry and the body parts are displayed in a simple geometry. The sculpture is freestanding and, in the round, to completely view the sculpture one must orbit around it. Viewing the sculpture from any side makes it look flat. The most unique feature of the statue is its head. The hair does not seem to be like real-life hair but some sort of beaded headdress. There is absolutely no facial expression in this statue.

The seated statue of Khafre was built around c. 2520- 2494 B.C.E in Gizeh. It was built as a funerary sculpture and represents the god-king Khafre. The statue is seated, and Khafre is displayed in a very erect posture. The statue is approximately 5’6” high which is larger than the life-sized statues. Since, the statue is seated and linked or attached to its throne, it makes the statue very solid and last for a longer time. Khafre associated the solidness of the statue to represents that he was a well-balanced ruler. He wanted his statue to be viewed, worshiped, and admired throughout the ages. He made his statue with a very strong and rare stone called diorite. It was made to last forever to remind the next generations about Khafre and his reign. The material he used to make his statue, strong and rare, would display to people that not only he is a great king but also that he is very rich and powerful. Khafre is seen dressed in the traditional kilt and wears the nemes headdress, depicted with the garb all pharaohs have worn. In fact, this sculpture could easily have represented any other pharaoh. The statue has a bilateral symmetry and even though the statue is seated, it has a rigid stance. The statue has masculinity and no facial expressions. Pharaohs were regarded as gods on earth, so any depictions of them presented them as perfect. This idealization left little room for any individual characteristic to shine through. After the death of Khafre, the statue would have been placed in his temple and would have been regularly be given offerings by priests.

There is quite a bit of similarities between the statue of kouros and the statue of Khafre. For instance, they both were made to display the features of men they were made for. They both were made as grave markers or commemorating sculptures but represented different meanings. The thought of making the statues was that after their death the statues would remind the world about them. Therefore, they were displayed in the best possible way, they were sculpted with perfection to convince the people about their power and significance. Symmetry was very important in both the Greek and Egyptian cultures. They incorporated symmetry in anything they thought was important to them. They thought that adding symmetry to the art or anything important made it more attractive and appealing. It was viewed as an attribute to attract. Both the statues were meant to be viewed from the front and had bilateral symmetry. They both have rigid form or stance, erect posture and masculinity. Both statues are life-sized statues. Both statues had no expression on their faces. They both are sculptures in the round and can be viewed from all sides. Although, there are many similarities between them there are differences between them too. The main difference between them is that statue of Kouros is standing but the statue of Khafre is seated and attached to its throne. In the Greek culture Kouros were made to physically remind the people about them after their death but in Egyptian culture the Pharaohs like Khafre and others made their statues to remind the people about their power, wealth and reign and more importantly provide a place for their soul to rest after their death. Egyptians believed in after life and thought the life on earth was initial life before the afterlife. While the Greeks believed that immortality is achieved not because of living for eternity but by being in the thoughts of the people. Another difference is that both the statues were made of different materials the statue of Kouros was made with marble and the statue of Khafre was made with diorite. There is a very large time gap between when both the statues were made, and it might be the reason behind its differences. The statue of Khafre was made 1000-2000 years before the statue of Kouros.

All in all, despite the similarities and differences these statues portray the details about how ancient people lived their lives and also gives us a sense into their artwork. These artworks give us insights about their daily life, rituals, what they believed and practiced. It is also very strange that in such ancient times they had developed these techniques of art and also knew that what they were making would last for a very long time. The knowledge buried in these ancient artworks is priceless and should be highly appreciated.

Works Cited

Sakoulas, Thomas. “Kouros.” Kouros, ancient-greece.org/art/kouros.html.

https://www.dailyartmagazine.com/ancient-greek-kouros-and-kore/

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