Leuchtstruktur Shop: In the Eye of Ra – Floater Structures in the Visual Arts of Ancient Egypt

In the Eye of Ra – Floater Structures in the Visual Arts of Ancient Egypt

(PDF-File by Floco Tausin)

In Western culture, the phenomenon of vitreous floaters (or muscae volitantes) is primarily understood in line with modern ophthalmology as “vitreous opacities”. The review of visual arts from former and non-Western cultures representing mythical and spiritual ideas, however, discloses abstract symbols that resemble the typical structures of eye floaters. This suggests that floaters have been widely interpreted as a mythical or spiritual phenomenon; and that there might be a perceptual dimension of floaters that modern ophthalmology fails to see (Tausin, 2010, 2006b). This article provides a trip to the visual worlds of Pharaonic Egypt and suggests that vitreous floaters have found their way into the art and imagination of this ancient civilization.

The sun
Since the earliest days of the Old Kingdom (from 2800 BC), the sun was due to its life-giving warmth and its regular cycle understood as the manifestation of a deity, the god Ra (or Re). The cult of the sun has been developed in various centers of the kingdom, especially in the “sun city”, Heliopolis. From 15th century BC, it spread rapidly throughout Egypt. In the process, many local and regional deities were identified with Ra. He was imagined and invoked as anthropomorphic creator god Re-Atum in Heliopolis, as Amun-Re in Thebes, as the falcon or hawk Re-Harakhti, as sun rolling scarab Khepri, or as a sun disk (Aten / Aton) which is often an accompanying attribute in the representation of Ra and sun-related deities.

In the Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, the name of Ra is expressed as follows:
The sign (pronounced “re” or “ra”) is said to represent the sun, but is also used for “date”, “hour” or “time”. It is striking that the sun is symbolized by two concentric circles...