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Lotus - Egypt
Growing from the mud at the bottom of ponds and streams, the exquisite lotus flower rises above the water and is usually white or pink with 15 or more oval, spreading petals, and a peculiar, flat seedcase at its center.
The common Egyptian "lotus" is actually correctly called a water lily: the white lotus opens at dusk, the blue water lily opens in the morning.
Often depicted on column capitals with palmettes.
Nymphaea lotus, the Egyptian white lotus, is believed to be the original sacred lotus of ancient Egypt. It and the Egyptian blue lotus, N. caerulea, were often pictured in ancient Egyptian art. The blue lotus was found scattered over Tutankhamen's body when the Pharaoh's tomb was opened in 1922.
The pure white lotus flower is the only plant to fruit and flower simultaneously.
- A symbol of Upper Egypt. This flower, along with the papyrus flower, was shown throughout Egypt in tombs and temples to symbolize the union of Upper and Lower Egypt
- The lotus is a symbol of the sun, of creation and rebirth because at night the flower closes and sinks underwater, at dawn it rises and opens again.
According to one creation myth it was a giant lotus which first rose out of the watery chaos at the beginning of time. From this giant lotus the sun itself rose on the first day.
One important symbolic aspect was based on the understanding of the temple as an image of the natural world as the Egyptians knew it. Lining the temple base are carvings of papyrus and lotus plants that seem to grow from water, symbolized by figures of the Nile god Hapy.
The lotus flower has been featured extensively throughout the art of ancient Egypt. In various works of art, you may see it held in the hand of a god or human, serving as a border to outline a section of the artwork, unfolding to reveal various gods or humans, and many other depictions.
The ancient Egyptians developed the art of counting to a high degree, but their system of numeration was very crude. For example, the number 1,000 was symbolized by a picture of a lotus flower, and the number 2,000 was symbolized by a picture of two lotus flowers growing out of a bush.
"The 'egg and dart' and 'egg and leaf' moldings are derived from an Egyptian lotus border" - Egyptian Origin of the Ionic Capital and of the Anthemion, by W. H. Goodyear © 1887
See also: Asian Lotus ......... Volutes