Illustrated Egyptian Architecture Dictionary . .......................... Illustrated Architecture Dictionary

Triangular-stemmed reed, which grew about 13 ft. tall, flourished along the banks of the Nile, but vanished due to overharvesting for boats, baskets, sandals, rope, and writing material. Attempts are now being made to reintroduce it into Egypt.

Symbolized Lower Egypt. The intertwining of the lotus and papyrus was frequently used to represent a unified Egypt (see "Narmer")

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.

At about the same time as the ancient Egyptians moved from prehistory to history by developing a written language, they discovered the need for a medium other than stone to transcribe upon. They found this in their papyrus plant, a triangular reed which symbolized ancient lower Egypt. 

Besides its use for producing a medium for writing purposes, papyrus was also used for mattresses on beds, for building chairs, tables, and other furniture as well as for mats, baskets, boxes, sandals, utensils, rope and boats. Furthermore, the papyrus root was a source of food, medicine and perfume. 

For more information, see Elaine A. Evans, Papyrus: A Blessing Upon Pharaoh


Photos and their arrangement © 2004 Chuck LaChiusa
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