Walk like an Egyptian

How and where did the stereotypical “Egyptian Walk” come into being? I’m not much of an Egyptologist, but what hieroglyphs I’ve seen are lacking in guys walking with their arms in a half swastika.

Ok, so obviously people didn’t really walk like that, but are there a lot of drawings like that that I just haven’t seen? Or was it just faked at some point and now everyone thinks hieroglyphs should look like that?

“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

take another look at the paintings ( not the heiroglyphs thats the words) you’ll see that ‘swastica’. egyptian art was highly ritual even when primarily decorative, , there were specified rules for depicting various objects and activities, creativity was not encouraged. faces are in profile but the eye is frontal. Then the upper torso full frontal, but the legs profile. bodies are in postures that would be uncomfortable to hold for very long. if you don’t beleave me ask my mummy. during the reign of the monotheistic aken aten there was a ‘loosening’ of strictures but it didn’t last long. The priests didn’t like the way he and nefertiti encouraged the people to turn their back on traditional family values, ( they weren’t brother and sister)the way the people were abandoning the religion of the founding fathers, and generally setting a poor moral example. As evedinced by state support of immoral art. But mostly cause the conservative priest class wasn’t in charge anymore. And then when nefertit, who had never even lived in Thebes decided to… wait a minute, i think i’v suffured another previous life memory leap… sorry. but anyway sure theres lotsa pics of egyptians like that.

“Pardon me while I have a strange interlude.”-Marx

The conservatism and ritualism in representive Egyptian art might be the case but a more important fact is that a “perspective technique” had not been invented/discovered yet. Perspective is one of those aspects of art that we take for granted now but had to be derived and refined.

Mipsman is correct in stating that the ancient Egyptians did not fully understand perspective techniques. The curious thing is that they sculpted and carved beautifully.


IDIOT, n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling.
–Ambrose Bierce

One explanation I had heard is that Egyptian art is very conceptual. Arms and legs are important as concepts, so an image of the person must conclude them or it will be incomplete. That’s the idea.

Children tend to be very conceptual illustrators. If they draw their family, they will draw the whole family in front of the house, along with pets. Kids with little siblings on the way will often draw their pregnant mothers as if they were transparent, just so they can include their unborn brother or sisters face. Wouldn’t want to leave anything out.

So, I’m thinking, Egyptian drawings were conceptual as well as ritualistic (as has been observed). I think the Bayeaux Tapestry is similar. Perhaps had the considered it an art, they would have developed perspective more; but I think they considered drawing more of a form of communication and record-keeping, which would explain the hybrid nature of heiroglyphs (i.e., somewhere between an alphabet and tiny drawings).

Another explanation I heard was that Egyptians believed the souls were in drawings themselves, so if you represented someone with a leg hidden, your dear departed ancestor would be lacking a leg in the afterlife. I don’t really understand this one, since I thought the whole point of mummification was preserving the body for the afterlife. I mean, why do ya need both legs on an illustration, if both your legs are preserved so carefully right there in the sarcophagus?

Nothing I write about any person or group should be applied to a larger group.

  • Boris Badenov

I agree with the above-- what we call perspective is hoghly overrated, especially when you want a conceptual whole instead of a merely optical likeness. The composite perspective the egyptians used provides the most information about all body parts-- showing each in its best view (and, unless there is a special narrative going on, head and legs always facing to the right). If someone asks you to draw a leg and foot by itself, you’re likely to show it profile, and the head (but the eye you’ll show frontally). A set of shoulders seen from the side doesn’t give much info, thogh, so it wil be frontal. I can’t explain why both feet are shown as left feet, though. As for the original post, I think you’re right-- The 'Bangles" arms position–bent elbows and wrists out to front and back–isn’t as frequent as we are supposed to believe. Usually figures have left foot forward and arms down at their sides, unless they are doing something specific with the hands. I can’t find a single instance of that particular hand pose in several books on egyptian art I have here at home. Hmmm. Good point-- I wonder where this comes from. I’m referring to regular painting, though. I’m not sure about hieroglyph figures proper, as I have fewer examples, but the hieroglyph figures of people in the inscriptions that I do have at hand follow the same canon as the regular “images.” A lot developed in the European popular imagination in the 18th and 19th C., I’m sure, about Egypt (you may have seen the amusing engraving of impossibly steep pyramids) so perhaps this notion developed sometime around then, when the Europeans started digging in Egypt?

When did the BANGLE (all girl rock group) come out with “WALK LIKE AN EGYPTIAN”?
Anybody have the words?

“%waayy ohh ewww wayy ohh ewww wayyy ohhhh%” -Bangles, Walk Like An Egyptian

It’s ironically clever if you speak Egyptian.


Walk Like An Egyptian

All the old paintings on the tombs
They do the sand dance don’t you know
If they move too quick (oh whey oh)
They’re falling down like a domino

All the bazaar men by the Nile
They got the money on a bet
Gold crocodiles (oh whey oh)
They snap their teeth on your cigarette

Foreign types with the hookah pipes say
Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh
Walk like an Egyptian

The blonde waitresses take their trays
They spin around and they cross the floor
They’ve got the moves (oh whey oh)
You drop your drink then they bring you more

All the school kids so sick of books
They like the punk and the metal band
When the buzzer rings (oh whey oh)
They’re walking like an Egyptian

All the kids in the marketplace say
Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh
Walk like an Egyptian

Slide your feet up the street bend your back
Shift your arm then you pull it back
Life is hard you know (oh whey oh)
So strike a pose on a Cadillac

If you want to find all the cops
They’re hanging out in the donut shop
They sing and dance (oh whey oh)
Spin the clubs cruise down the block

All the Japanese with their yen
The party boys call the Kremlin
And the Chinese know (oh whey oh)
They walk the line like Egyptian

All the cops in the donut shop say
Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh
Walk like an Egyptian
Walk like an Egyptian

Sigh Thanks a LOT - now that song’s going to be in my head all damn day.

lalalalala, O way o … grrr