jeudi 20 juin 2013

Selon James Silk Buckingham (XVIIIe-XIXe s.), une “communication” entre le puits de la Grande Pyramide et le Sphinx avait été créée à des fins rituelles

Dans le vol. XIII de la publication Oriental Herald and Colonial Review (1827), l’écrivain journaliste anglais James Silk Buckingham (1786-1855) relate sa visite au site de Guizeh.
Voici ses observations sur le Sphinx :

Photographie de Lichtenstern & Harari - Date : ?

“We climbed over these without much difficulty, and ascending the first gallery (inside the Great Pyramid), came to the well which is on the right-hand of the landing-place as we entered. The depth of this has been much spoken of, and traditions prevail of persons having gone into it without ever returning, the truth of which it is now impossible to ascertain ; but on throwing down several stones it was easy to distinguish by their sounds that the passage was serpentine, and of great depth, as the noise of them did not suddenly cease, but diminished gradually by distance. Of all the conjectures which have been urged relative to the use of this channel, none appears to me so probable as that which assigns it to a communication with the Sphinx, by which the ancient Egyptian priests descended to inclose themselves in the body of that monster, and deliver their oracles to the admiring multitude. Who knows but that it was by some such stratagem as this that they acquired sufficient ascendancy over the minds of the people to induce their perseverance in this gigantic task, under the deceptive persuasion that this oracle repeated to their ears the commands of the Deity ? (...)
The Sphinx, which is situated a little to the southward of the first pyramid, was the next object of our attention ; and I was charmed with an inspection of it. How much did I regret the haste of the enthusiastic Denon's visit, and the impossibility of his making a perfect drawing of it on the spot ; for, independently of his merit as an artist, he seems to have caught all the impressions requisite for such a task.
The plate given in Aikin's edition of his travels, is stiff, and painful in the attitude of the uplifted head and eyes, while the complacent ease and rather downcast features of the original is the very picture of satisfaction and repose.
Such a head as the engraving of the English edition gives us, could not have been the production of his pencil, after the admirably faithful character which he bestows on it, when he says: “Though its proportions are colossal, the outline is pure and graceful, the expression of the head is mild, gracious, and tranquil ; the character is African, but the mouth, the lips of which ore thick, has a softness and delicacy of execution truly admirable ; it seems real life and flesh. Art must have been at a high pitch when this monument was executed ; for, if the head wants what is called style, that is to say, the straight and bold lines which give expression to the figures, under which the Greeks have designated their deities, yet sufficient justice has been rendered to the fine simplicity and character of nature which is displayed in this figure.”
As far as we could trace it, the statue of the Sphinx is hewn out of one solid rock, the body being covered with the sand of the Desert, level with its back, on which we walked. Lines of red paint are still visible about the hair, which, from the complicated sculpture, appears to have been highly ornamented ; but the features are at this moment much mutilated, the superstition of the Mohammedans teaching them to despise all representations of animal life, and the Bedouins having a traditional hatred of Pharoah, whose tomb they believe the pyramid to have been, and this his image.

The conjecture, that this union of the virgin's beauty and the lion's strength was hieroglyphically emblematic of the inundation of the Nile, at a certain astronomical period, appears extremely happy, and is borne out by the universality of that ornament on all their temples and public buildings. Without the Nile, Egypt would have been an uninhabitable desert ; but, watered by its prolific stream, it becomes a second Eden ; and if ever a superstition is pardonable, it is so when attaching divine virtues to that which is the source of life, fertility, and happiness, erecting statues to its honour, and lavishing the arts to record the gratitude of mankind.”

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