Animals and Pharaohs. The Animal Kingdom in Ancient Egypt. 2015 — Museums

This museographic project reflects on the relationship of the inhabitants of Ancient Egypt with the animals that inhabited the lands of the Nile, and their transition from pets and pack animals to deities and companions on the journey to death. 

Institutional sponsor: Fundació Bancària “la Caixa”

Location: Barcelona, Catalonia

© Photography: Pepo Seguro

Animals have always been adjacent to man, as companions, as workers, as food, as the heroes of fables, and also transformed into gods. Zoomorphic symbolism has been present in a great number of civilizations, but it was perhaps in Egypt where it acquired greatest meaning.

These animals were transformed from pets into companions on the journey of souls after death, and finally into deities that officiated the ceremonies of transition into the beyond. This museography project aims to reflect this frontier between the world of the living and the world of the dead as a way of talking about the process of deification of animals in Ancient Egypt. Dogs, cats, monkeys, bulls, fish, crocodiles, snakes, horses, rams, lions, shrew mice and beetles appear not only as sculptures but also on all kinds of amulets, ceramic elements, combs, spoons, etc., which give us a idea of the endless presence of the animal kingdom in Egyptian society.

The first area on the exhibition path represents Earthly life. As such, the works on display are set in an environment of ochre colours and desert landscapes in the background. The supraterrestrial world is distinguished by the presence of white and a much more abstract background in a powerful blue tone. The sculpture of the baboons stands out against it. The Egyptians believed that these animals worshiped the god Ra, when in fact they followed the sun in order to keep warm. This connection between the sky and the Earth is depicted by the vertical hole whose opening draws a single ray that crosses both spaces, which these stone baboons are worshipping.