Mary's trip to London, Oxford and Berlin travel blog

Saint Barbara by Germain Pilon 1580-1585 CE

Horus in the feline aspect

Even the Romans had grumpy old men!

Hephaestus the Roman god of blacksmiths and fire

Armored knight and horse Italian 1565 CE

Egyptian Mummy Portrait Roman Period

Late Period Egyptian outer coffin

Late Period Egyptian gilded sarcophagus

The wishing cow, representing the Hindu deity Kamadhenu

Column capital from Persepolis, the palace of Persian King Darius

One of my trip mates picked me up this morning right on time at 9:20 and drove me over to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. There we met up with trip leader and Egyptologist Stacy Davidson. It was really great having a professional archaeologist available to answer questions and you guys know me, I asked a lot! The museum had a Late Period sarcophagus and outer coffin and Stacy explained the symbolism of the various paintings that included the Egyptian gods that ask the deceased various questions to test the worthiness of their soul. The answers to these questions are contained in the book of the dead. Fortunately, the deceased lady was a noblewoman and priestess so she would have been able to afford a copy of the book of the dead! Stacy also translated some of the hieroglyphic inscriptions for us too.

I was quite intrigued by a sculpture of the god Horus in his feline incarnation. When I first saw it from across the room I thought it was a statue of the cat-headed goddess Sekhmet but thought it looked rather masculine compared to the Sekhmet statues I had seen last summer at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. Then when I got up close and read the ID card I learned it was a feline Horus. I don't believe I've ever seen a feline Horus before. Stacy said some scholars think the feline Horus is a different being from the falcon-headed Horus that is the most common incarnation but she said it's still just a theory.

There was also a beautiful Fayum mummy portrait from the Roman Period. As many of you know mummy portraits are among my favorite art forms. Stacy told me I'll love the Petris Museum in London then because they have the largest collection of mummy portraits outside of Egypt.

The Roman galleries featured some nice portrait busts and some beautiful bronzes of Hercules and Hephaestus, the Roman god of blacksmiths, fire and volcanoes.

I took a break for lunch and found the museum cafe had much better food than the average. I had a half of a salmon and bacon sandwich with tasty spicy sauce and a Thai noodle salad. Then managed to snag a great piece of Key Lime Pie to keep me going for the rest of the afternoon. Best of all I met a really interesting lady from Taiwan who is working in Connecticut in biotechnology. She is particularly interested in Buddhist art and was curious about which museums I had visited that had good Asian art collections. Before I knew it an hour had passed and I had to finally excuse myself because I hadn't finished the medieval art and need to cover the Asian Art before catching my ride back to the hotel at 3 p.m.

The medieval galleries had a spectacular silver processional cross and interesting architectural elements from churches and monasteries across Europe. A fully-armored knight on horseback was a spectacular centerpiece in one of the rooms.

Once upstairs in the Asian art galleries I had to kick it into high gear since I only had an hour left. My favorite piece was a bodhisattva with a very African looking face and an Indian wishing cow, representing the Hindu deity Kamadhenu, a miraculous "cow of plenty" who provides her owner whatever he/she desires and is often portrayed as the mother of other cattle as well as the eleven Rudras.

My ride was right on time and I went back to the hotel and backed up my images before ordering a shuttle to take me over to Cracker Barrel for dinner. I decided to indulge in country-style American food since it would be at least two weeks before I would be eating it again as I leave for London in the morning.

I've included some images with this post. For my photographer friends, please forgive any blemishes as my little netbook can't handle Photoshop so these are "farm fresh" from the camera without any editing.

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