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Arabs have hacked at semi-successfully. The Ramesseum has many fine details ; but one cannot describe all the fine halls of columns, fine osirids, and fine pylons in Thebes.
It was outside here that we had a typical Egyptian teapot storm,
A sakiya and a shadaf were working side by side, and drawing many kodakers, because the sakiya had a camel as self-conscious as a clergyman, and the shadüf was worked by an entirely naked boy, as bronze and graceful as John of Bologna's Mercury. I photographed the camel, giving the boy who sat on the bar a small piastre-a penny farthing of our money ; then I turned my kodak on the shadůf boy, but a man with a full complement of clothes rushed forward and drove him off. I turned my kodak away; he became very abusive; he wished to earn a penny farthing, and he thought that the shadüf was the part that interested me. So, as he was stronger than the boy, he insisted upon working it. I said I would photograph the boy or nothing, and our dragoman was quite unable to calm the disturbance. He had to hurry us off, because the man insisted upon being photographed, and I refused to photograph him. “Oh for five minutes of Mohammed, Cook's dragoman, the dictator of the Nile!”
It did not occur to me, or to any one else at the time, to suggest that the boy should be photographed and the man receive the penny farthing, which would have pleased all parties, except the boy.
At the back of the Ramesseum there is a mud Pompeii, a Pharaonic town dating from the nineteenth to the twentieth dynasty, remarkable for the extensive vaulting of some of its warehouses. Wine was found in one of them, bottled in the time of Rameses the Great. I have never met any one who had tasted it: as the bottles are earthenware it is probably moused. I say are and is, because the bottles and their contents must be in some museum.
Even the year of the vintage is hieroglyphed somehow.
The chief temple of the third group-Der-el-Bahari—is one of the most striking monuments of Egypt. It consists of terraces rising up one above the other, hewn out of the
bosom of the rock like the Theatre of Taormina. Though Del-el-Bahari is stripped of everything visible but a few colonnades and remains of pylons, it reminded me of the noble mortuary temples of the Tokugawa shoguns at Shiba and Nikko, Nikko especially, on account of the size. It is with one vast court rising above another in terraces, with each terrace broken in the centre by an inclined stairway, and with each stairway spanned at the top by a stately gateway, that the temples of lyeyasu and Iyemitsu secure their effect. Doubtless Der-el-Bahari was once embosomed in groves, like the temples of Nikko, and far at the back of everything was the actual tomb. A dromos of lanterns is as natural in a Japanese mortuary temple as a dromos of sphinxes was in Egypt; there is even the likeness between the torii and the pylon, both connected with birds in their origin. But there was one striking difference, the shoguns of the Tokugawa had imposed a Pax Romana on their world, so their tombs of bronze, half-gold, stand conspicuous to all, while the graves of the greatest of the Pharaohs had to be hidden, with the ingenuity of a story-teller, from robbers.
The Temple of Der-el-Bahari, like the other temples of the Theban plain, was what the Greeks call a Memnonion and the Egyptians a Mennu. In other words, it was the oratory belonging to a tomb. The oratories of Rameses the Great and the greater Rameses III., were separated by some miles from their tombs in the Valley of the Kings. The oratory of Queen Hatasu lies right against the mountain of coffins, as the Egyptians call these honeycombed cliffs of Thebes ; and it may therefore well be as near the tomb of the great queen and her father, the first Thothmes, as the oratories, which are the opening halls of the tombs of the officials, are to their graves. We do not know. Queen Hatasu gave this crowning proof of her capacity by guarding the secret of her tomb so well that it has not been found yet, though the most celebrated antiquarians have lavished their ingenuity on the site.
The temple of Der-el-Bahari is disappointing as you enter it. Seen from Luxor, seen from the great pylon of Amon-Ra at Karnak, seen from the decks of a passing dahabeah, it is wonderfully majestic and inspiring, but when you dismount from your ass, and commence to climb the terraces, two rebellious impressions almost overmaster you: for bleak heat it beats the Milan Exhibition on a midsummer day, and the colonnades, which have had roofs added to them to preserve the sculptures, look as new as an Italian camposanto. You toil up the terraces, you examine the sculptures, which are, some of them, quite beautiful, and some of them quite funny, but you soon get blasé over bas-reliefs in Egypt. You come to the conclusion that it would be all right if Der-el-Bahari were the only temple in Egypt, but that it does not do after Karnak and Medinet-Habu. You seem to have got to the end of the temple without anything particular happening, when suddenly a dignified ghafir with the white turban, flowing black robe, and yellow arm-badge of the guardians of Egyptian monuments, comes forward and points a key at you and utters the open sesame, monument tickets. You show them, and he admits you to wonderful things-the rock shrines of Der-el-Bahari. The rock shrines of Der-el-Bahari are as marvellous in their way as the colossi of Abu Simbel : the most wonderful of them used to stand between this temple and the eleventh-dynasty temple, from which this was imitated. It has been cut out entire, and is now in the Cairo Museum. Being the only cult image ever discovered in position in its shrine, it was at once removed, instead of being preserved here with adequate precautions. It contained a life-sized image of the cow of Hathor, dedicated by Amen-hetep II. fifteen hundred years before Christ, in a shrine adorned with coloured reliefs in the time of his predecessor, the great Thothmes III. The shrine and the image are alike perfect and brilliantly coloured-it is the glory of the Cairo Museum.
As far as shrines go there are better ones, mercifully left, in situ, in Queen Hatasu's temple. Their colouring is the most brilliant of any we have now remaining from ancient Egypt.
The relationships of Queen Hatasu's family were rather involved. She was the daughter of Thothmes I., the sister and wife of Thothmes II., the stepmother, the aunt, and the wife of Thothmes III., if she was not his sister and wife, opinions differing as to whether he was the baseborn son of Thothmes I. or Thothmes II. At one time all three Thothmeses were reigning at the same time. The general wife and daughterHatasu-was more important than them all, because she had through her mother, the divine blood, which they did not possess. As both she and Thothmes III. were very overbearing people, it is not surprising that, being so intimately related, they quarrelled. She kept Thothmes III., who was the ablest and most powerful of all the Pharaohs, tied to her apron-strings as long as she lived, and he revenged himself by erasing her name and her portrait from every monument of her which he could find, directly she was dead. But he overlooked the most beautiful of the rock shrines of Der-el-Bahari, so that there we have a portrait of the great Queen playing Romulus and Remus with the Sacred Cow.
I should have mentioned that the name Der-el-Bahari means the Northern Convent.? Der in Egypt means a convent, and Queen Hatasu's temple received its modern name from the topos of Phoibammon-a convent which the Copts deposited like a cuckoo's egg (a habit of theirs) in the great Queen's temple.
I cannot conclude without mentioning the picturesquities and peculiarities of Der-el-Bahari.
Though the temple strikes you at first as so bare, when you are in it, you find charming features besides those glowing rock shrines which have no rivals for colour save in the royal tombs, and are almost unrivalled in their condition. Nowhere else can we match the immense white altar, of striking beauty, standing in one of the courts, to the top of which the sacrificing priest had to mount by steps ; nowhere have we a more charming vista of columns, and the plain of Thebes, and the Nile than from one of these rock shrines. The most
The convents were so usually fortified, that fortresses of the same type, even when they have never contained a convent, are called ders. See chapter on the Great Oasis,