These paintings of ducks from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo always hold a special place. They originate as wallpaintings from a tomb in Meidum, in Lower Egypt. The style of these paintings is characterized by the use of vibrant colors, with the ducks often rendered in profile, capturing a snapshot of life along the Nile. The Egyptians used a wide range of pigments, creating colors that have endured for millennia. These hues were derived from natural sources such as minerals, plants, and even insects.
Ducks were commonly found in the marshlands along the Nile and were a vital source of food for the ancient Egyptians. They were hunted, but also domesticated, and the care taken to render their forms in art suggests a deep appreciation for these creatures. Artists of the time would portray ducks with meticulous attention to detail, capturing their movement, the texture of their feathers, and their natural environment.
In tombs, specifically, scenes depicting ducks were believed to provide sustenance for the deceased in the afterlife. Such paintings would often accompany scenes of fishing, feasting, and hunting, reflecting the bounties that the dead could expect in the next world. The medium ducks, so-called perhaps due to their size relative to other birds in these paintings, would be depicted alongside other species, each carefully chosen for its symbolic significance.