Mary Magdalene Essay, Research Paper
The first sculpture that I observed was Mary Magdalene. This was a sculpture from the thirteenth century, made from limestone and polychrome. Mary Magdalene was a Jewish girl from a gentile town called Magdalene, which gave her the name of Mary of Magdalene. Mary was a sinner and many were surprised when Jesus let her touch him. When Jesus touched her he said, “Many sins are forgiver her, because she has loved so much.”( ) Then to Mary he said, “Your faith has made you safe go in peace.” ( ) Mary then began to serve Jesus and his Apostles. When Jesus was crucified she was there and when his body was placed in the tomb she anointed it with spices. At the time that Jesus rose from the dead, Mary of Magdalene was the person Jesus chose to show himself to. In turn, Mary was considered a special person and later became a saint. In this sculpture and through out her life Mary represents a religious figure. “Although Mary was looked at as a religious figure, she symbolized weakness of human kind and hope of salvation.”(Memorial Art Gallery) The second sculpture that I observed was King Ny-user-ra. This sculpture was done in the time period between 2390 and 2360 BC, made from red granite. In Egypt, Pharaohs were the cultural leaders of society. They represented power and control. This particular sculpture was a portrait sculpture of king Ny-user-ra. The Egyptians were place in tombs after-death. They believed in an after life and therefore would take certain items “with them” to the after life. Many of the valuable items were often stolen from the tombs. However, the soul rather than the jewels were more important for the decent into the after life. Guard statues, similar to this sculpture, were placed outside of the tomb. These sculptures represented the soul of the person. They acted as a shield of protection, for the soul, from thieves. The sculpture of Mary of Magdalene represented the transition in the thirteenth century from Romanesque art to Gothic art. This life size sculpture to me represented a sense of innocence. Mary was portrayed to be a happy and simple person. The sculpture was obviously very colorful, decorated with blues and reds, at one time. The Sculpture is very smooth and round possibly from the age. Her face reminded me of the faces of St. Stephen and St. Theodore on the Chartes Cathedral, all three faces displayed a sense of tenderness. The box that she was carrying was a very plain, although it is thought that it contained either the perfume or spices that she sprinkled on Jesus after the crucifixion. Mary’s clothes were also plain, comparable to a peasant girl’s attire. The sculpture shows her almost pointing to herself. The research I found on Mary of Magdalene leads me to believe that her pointing gesture represents her asking Jesus if he is talking to her when he says, “She has loved very much .”
King Ny-user-ra’s sculpture came across to represent exactly the opposite that Mary’s represented. I wasn’t sure if this sculpture would have had any color. Being that it is made out of red granite, it had a very cold feeling for me unlike the warmth I felt from Mary of Magdalene’s sculpture. This piece was very solemn and stern. The pharaoh’s expression and stance illustrate a tense feeling. This seemed to be the way power was portrayed during that time. The sculpture was very simple and small. I believe that its purpose was to guard the body and soul inside the tomb. The bust of the sculpture is the original and the bottom is a replica of the original, which is in another museum. The king is holding what seems to be a weapon for protection. He is standing with one foot in front of the other and one arm straight down by his side. This stance also symbolizes his power. There are many differences between the two sculptures even though they are both powerful representations of their time period. Mary of Magdalene’s expression is at ease and relaxed compared to the cut and rigid form of the pharaoh. They are different in this sense because the sculpture of the King(pharaoh) is trying to be in control of the situation, where as Mary is placing control into the hands of another person, Jesus. This follows the idea that Mary symbolizes weakness of human kind and the pharaoh symbolizes strength. The sculpture of Mary shows a woman who was weak, dependent, and of the lower class. On the other hand, the King represents a wealthy and independent man, who was very much a part of high society. The last difference that I observed was the textual design of the pieces. Mary of Magdalene’s sculpture was smooth and had many curves and the King Ny-user-ra’s sculpture was stiff and the lines where a little choppy. I found several similarities between the two sculptures. First, they both represent the religious beliefs of people during their time period. During the Egyptian time period they believed in rebirth into the after life. The sculpture was for protection so that the soul would remain unharmed. This in turn would allow for rebirth. In the sculpture of Mary of Magdalene, she represents Christ’s rise from the dead and ascent into heaven. These two religious ideas are similar in that they both believe there is a life after death. Another aspect in which the two were similar was the simplicity of their facial expressions. They both were somewhat solemn and untouched by the world around them at that particular moment. Finally, the sculptures are holding an object, but in opposite hands.