"You shall walk up the pyramids of Egypt!"
Two years ago when I redecorated my new bedroom, I wanted a room that would feel transporting. I was toying with the idea of Japanese prints and Asian decor, but in the end I chose prints and decor of one of my favorite cultures: Egyptian. My walls are a deep golden color. Prints on the walls include that of Nefrititi, Hathor, and Seti. There are two sculptures I ordered specifically from an online store that specialized in Ancient Egyptian art: one is a cat, the other a bird.
I think every child in New York remembers his/her first field trip to the MET, because it always involves the Egyptian wing. I recall being there on a second grade field trip, being ushered in and out of small crevices in resurrected temples and staring into thick glass which contained the various coffins of mummies. I think the morbid fascination with mummification begins quite early on in the elementary school years. There is just something really appealing to an eight year old about a deceased person's brains and other body fluid getting sucked out of the body via the nose. Of course, there are other aspects of Ancient Egyptian culture that are also fascinating, including the hieroglyphics, architecture, and deities. Ancient Egyptian culture is studied at various stages throughout grade school, and when I was teaching ninth grade three years ago, I and my history counterpart at school put together an interdisciplinary project involving a trip to the wing at the MET. He and I went together one late afternoon in October and had so much fun putting together this kind of scavenger hunt for our students. It amazes me how the MET was not only able to obtain such beautiful artifacts from Ancient Egypt, but to obtain these artifacts in such high quantities. Of course I love the Temple of Dendur, as does Billy Crystal's character does in When Harry Met Sally, but there are so many other beautiful pieces in the collection that are so much more subtle. A few favorites of mine include a crocodile statue, the jewels and amulets from the mummy burials, and the carefully etched sarcophagi.
When I was in sixth grade, I attended a Halloween party dressed as Cleopatra. I had found this awesome headdress that had gold sequins and a snake that came out at the forehead, complete with beads dangling down my hair from the crown of the headpiece. My mother loves Elizabeth Taylor, so my sisters and I saw the movie as young girls. Of course I realize now how far from historically accurate the film is, but nonetheless it does capture the aura of Egypt. Antony and Cleopatra happens to be one of Shakespeare's lesser read plays, which is rather unfortunate. It is one of my favorites because it is evident how much Shakespeare was mezmerized by the sexual power Cleopatra owned. It is my hope that one summer it shall be the play in the park, and perhaps even put on screen.
Of course I have also come to love Egyptian food in my adult years. Some of the best Egyptian restaurants in New York are found in Astoria, including Mombar. I have eaten there twice; the decor makes you feel as if you have stepped into Arabian Nights, and the food is phenomenal. There is quite a link between Egyptian cuisine and Armenian cuisine, but Egyptian cuisine has some great twists that I enjoy as well. I do hope that one day it will be safe to travel to Egypt so I can see the pyramids, enjoy the food, and relish in the ancient history.
So what inspired this post?
As a teacher, I feel that it is important to expose children to various cultures very early on. A teaching moment arose yesterday with my Kindergartens. One of my counselors busted out her 80's music cd collection, and on came "Walk Like an Egyptian." I looked around the room; my kids were completely disaffected as my counselors and I were going crazy over the song. We decided to take matters into our own hands; I think we refused to succumb to the generation gap. We grabbed chairs, cleared tables, and instructed my kindies how to walk like an Egyptian for a good twenty minutes. They loved it. Ok, so there is absolutely very little merit in teaching them about Egypt via a cliched movement that Susanna Hoffs perpetuated, but you have to start somewhere, don't you?
Reader, welcome to my life.
- Name: ThursdayNext
- Location: New York, United States