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Lotuslocked

  • Eva Wilson

Extract

Term for two distinct decorative motifs based on types of water-lily; one originated in Egypt, the other in India. Lotus motifs in Egypt occur from the beginning of the Dynastic period c. 3000 bc in two stylized forms. The curved outline of the flower-head distinguishes the motif based on the white-flowered Nymphaea lotus from the more triangular outline of the motif based on the blue-flowered Nymphaea caerulea (see fig. (a)). Representations on the walls of tombs and temples suggest that lotus flowers were much in evidence in daily life, and the motif decorates jewellery and many domestic objects. In the tomb of Tutankhamun (regc. 1332–c. 1323 bc), for example, the bowl of an alabaster cup represents an open white lotus, while the handles have the form of the blue lotus flower and two buds; a necklace has lotus motifs on both pendant and lock; and the pointed lotus petals form decorative borders on many objects (all Cairo, Egyp. Mus.). Lotus flowers and buds are among other plantlike capitals on stone pillars in funerary monuments and temples (see Borchardt, figs 9–11). The lotus also had some ritual significance: the flowers of water-lilies close at night and open at sunrise, a feature that came to symbolize a resurgence of life and the sun itself and became associated with the sun god Horus. The morning sun was pictured as rising from the lotus flower and settling back into the flower at night. When associated with Isis, the lotus became a fertility symbol....

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