The statue spoke to me… and I fell immediately in love. Carved in black basalt, it depicts the ancient pharaoh Tuthmosis III (Thutmose III), who ruled Egypt in the mid 1400s BC. It is displayed at the Luxor Museum, a place less crowded, less glamorous and less famous than its cousin in Cairo but far better in which to quietly appreciate the dignity of the ancients. As an object of art the statue is entrancing, smoothed to flawlessness, the features of the face carved with refined delicacy.
Such works were almost always designed to show the pharaohs in god-like form, gazing icily down at the mortal world, terrible and untouchable. So what disarmed me about this particular piece was his smile – more than an equal match for the Mona Lisa! The joy in his face glows outwards from corners of his mouth and eyes, the universal power of the human smile straddling thousands of years to form a connection between me and this long-dead king.
Smile now. Go on. You’ll feel better, I promise!