Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Baroque Churches of San Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. In the words of Umberto Eco.

From UNESCO list of the World Heritage Monuments:  As the first capital of Brazil, from 1549 to 1763, Salvador de Bahia witnessed the blending of European, African and Amerindian cultures. It was also, from 1558, the first slave market in the New World, with slaves arriving to work on the sugar plantations. The city has managed to preserve many outstanding Renaissance buildings. A special feature of the old town are the brightly coloured houses, often decorated with fine stucco-work.
I’m presenting today, Umberto Eco’s great description of San Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos’s baroque churches in his book Foucalt’s Pendulum. 

Nosso Señor do Bonfim. From

Facade of Cathedral, San Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. From

Cloister of Convent of San Francisco/Sao Francisco, Salvador, Bahia.

“ And I saw Salvador: Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos, the “black Rome,” with three hundred and sixty five churches, which stand out against the line of hills or nestle along the bay, churches were the gods of the African pantheon are honored.
Amparo knew a primitive artist who painted big wooden panels crammed with Biblical and apocalyptic visions, dazzling as a medieval miniature, with Coptic and Byzantine elements. …..he spent his days dreaming in the sacristies of the sanctuary of Nosso Senhor do Bomfim: a triumph of horror vacui, scaly with ex-votos that hung from the ceiling and encrusted the walls, a mystical assemblage of silver hearts, wooden arms and legs, images of wondrous rescues from glittering storms, waterspouts, maelstroms. He took us to the sacristy of another church, which was full of great furnishings redolent of jacaranda. “Who is that painting of?” Amparo asked the sacristan. “Saint George?”
The sacristan gave us a knowing look. “They call him Saint George,” he said, “ and if you don’t call him that, the pastor gets angry. But he’s Oxossi.”
For two days the painter led us thorugh naves and cloisters hidden behind decorated facades like silver plates now blackened and worn. Wrinkled, limping famuli accompanied us. The sacristies were sick with gold and pewter, heavy chests, precious frames. Along the walls, in crystal cases, life-size images of saints towered, dripping blood, their open wounds spattered with ruby droplets; Christs writhed in pain, their legs red. In a glow of late-Baroque gold, I saw angels with Etruscan faces, Romanesque griffins, and Oriental sirens peeping out from the capitals.
I moved along ancient streets, enchanted by names that sounded like songs……At the feet of those deserted and leprous churches embarrassed by their own evil-smelling alleys, fifteen-year-old black prostitutes still swarmed, ancient women selling African sweets crouched along the sidewalks with their steaming pots, and hordes of pimps danced amid trickles of sewage to the sound of transistor radios in nearby bars. The ancient palaces of the Portuguese settlers, surmounted by coats of arms now illegible, had become houses of ill-repute.”

Umberto Eco. Foucalt’s Pendulum. Chapter 26. P. 174-175 USA 1988

Convent and Igreja de São Francisco, Salvador (Bahia). Abaroque church with a beautiful azulejos cloister. Forced to build their masters' church and yet prohibited from practicing their own religion (Candomblé), the African slave artisans responded through their work: the faces of the cherubs are distorted, some angels are endowed with huge sex organs, some appear to be pregnant. Text and picture from
Bahia´s Church Interior. By Tony Galvez

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Realizan pruebas de carga para poder habilitar el puente Zárate-Brazo Largo

Pruebas de resistencia del puente Zárate-Brazo Largo, Argentina. Foto de
Esta nota de Verónica Toller salió publicada el día de hoy, en el diario argentino Clarín. Transcribo cómo se realizan las pruebas de resistencia del famoso puente argentino Zárate Brazo Largo.
Puente Zárate Brazo Largo. Foto de
Las pruebas de carga para verificar las condiciones de resistencia y estabilidad del puente Justo José de Urquiza, en el complejo Zárate-Brazo Largo, se llevan a cabo en estos momentos. Camiones cargados de piedras y otros elementos se están usando para las pruebas.
"Se está cargando estáticamente el puente con diversas toneladas para comprobar su reacción –explicó esta tarde a Clarín el ingeniero Osvaldo Elorriaga, jefe del Distrito 17 de Vialidad Nacional correspondiente a Entre Ríos-. Se probó con 90, luego 180 y ahora 360 toneladas de carga. Este peso final es la configuración más crítica que puede haber sobre el lugar del siniestro; son 8 vehículos parados en el lugar a la vez, con 45 toneladas cada uno, que es el máximo que marca la ley", indicó.
Se trabaja así con cálculos infinitesimales muy complejos y esquemas matemáticos teóricos, en base a los cuales se concluye. De esa forma, con la máxima carga que puede llegar a haber a la vez en el lugar, los técnicos observan las deformaciones que el puente muestra, esto es, movimientos esperables, y se determina si se encuentran dentro de los límites tolerables. "Por ejemplo, en estos momentos, con 8 camiones, observo el movimiento, que se está calculando en 13 cm", dijo el ingeniero.
Las pruebas consisten en colocar camiones de a dos, con la carga mencionada, e ir subiendo el peso con más camiones hasta el tope esperable, para calcular la resistencia y movimientos. Además del movimiento con carga, se analiza la capacidad de recuperación del puente con la descarga o retirada de los camiones.
En total, la tarea demandará unas cinco horas, por lo que después de las 20 habría recién novedades. "Si todo está bien y los resultados de esta prueba son los esperados, unido a los resultados de los análisis ya practicados, estaremos en condiciones de decir si mañana habrá o no tránsito en el complejo", agregó Elorriaga.
Los técnicos de Vialidad Nacional tienen confianza en que se podrá, durante la mañana, abrir el paso a vehículos livianos y de pasajeros, e incluso se mostraron esperanzados en poder por la tarde permitir el paso de tránsito pesado. "Obtendremos esta tarde un grado razonable de seguridad que nos permitirá tomar esas decisiones", dijeron a Clarín.

The Collapse of the Domus Aurea

The collapse today. Picture from Diario El País.

Today, newspapers around the world, have published about the sixty square meters (645 square feet) collapse of a gallery’s vault of the Domus Aurea.

"The real emergency is on the Palatine," said Domus Aurea Commissioner Antonello Vodret, referring to the first and greatest of Rome's hills, where the city was born and where its emperors later built their residences.
"Unless we get money soon, the whole hill could crumble".
"There are some 150 houses that have not been protected against water," Vodret said.
However, he voiced the hope that Tuesday's partial collapse of one of the tunnels of Hadrian's Baths, built over the Domus, would "hasten the arrival" of the funds.
Archeologist Andrea Carandini told ANSA that the situation of some of Ancient Rome's sites was so bad that "collapses have become a nightmare for me".
Tuesday's incident was "dramatic proof that there is a real emergency in Rome," he said, adding that it was lucky no one died when the tunnel roofing came down in what has been used since the early 20th century as a storage area for artifacts.
(From ANSA.IT)
Picture from ArteHistoria
Picture from
 Picture from MSN
The Domus Aurea (“Golden House”), has been built by Emperor Nero between the Great Fire of Rome (64 AD) and his suicide (68 AD) in English has a very good description of the villa. The following text is from this site, adapted.

The Domus Area was a large landscaped portico villa, designed to take advantage of artificially created landscapes built in the heart of Ancient Rome, after the Great Fire of Rome cleared away the aristocratic dwellings on the slopes of the Esquiline Hill.
Built of brick and concrete, the extensive gold-leaf that gave it its name was not the only extravagant element of its decor: stuccoed ceilings were applied with semi-precious stones and veneers of ivory while the walls were frescoed
The estimated size of the Domus Aurea is an approximation, as much of it has not been excavated. Some scholars place it at over 300 acres, while others estimate its size to have been under 100 acres.
Suetonius describes the complex as "ruinously prodigal" as it included groves of trees, pastures with flocks, vineyards and an artificial lake— rus in urbe, "countryside in the city". Nero also commissioned from the Greek Zenodorus a colossal 35.5 m high bronze statue of himself, the Colossus Neronis.  The statue was placed just outside the main palace entrance at the terminus of the Via Appia in a large atrium of porticoes that divided the city from the private villa. This statue may have represented Nero as the sun god Sol, as Pliny saw some resemblance. The face of the statue was modified shortly after Nero’s death during Vespasian’s  reign to make it truly a statue of Sol. Hadrian moved it, with the help of the architect Decrianus and 24 elephants, to a position next to the Flavian Amphitheater. This building took the name of “Colosseum” (Coliseo) in the Middle Ages, after the statue nearby, or, as some historians believe, because of the sheer size of the building.
The Golden House was a party villa, as shown by the presence of 300 rooms without any sleeping quarter. Strangely, no kitchens or latrines have been discovered yet either.
Rooms sheathed in dazzling polished white marble were given richly varied floor plans, shaped with niches and exedras  that concentrated or dispersed the daylight. There were pools in the floors and fountains splashing in the corridors.
Some of the extravagances of the Domus Aurea had repercussions for the future. The architects designed two of the principal dining rooms to flank an octagonal court, surmounted by a dome with a giant central oculus to let in light. It was probably the first Roman use of a dome that was not in a temple dedicated to the gods, such as the Pantheon, and an early use of concrete construction. One innovation was destined to have an enormous influence on the art of the future: Nero placed mosaics,  previously restricted to floors, in the vaulted ceilings. Only fragments have survived, but that technique was to be copied extensively, eventually ending up as a fundamental feature of Christian art: the apse mosaics that decorate so many churches in Rome, Ravenna, Sicily and Constantinople.
Engineers-architects Celer and Severus also created an ingenious mechanism, cranked by slaves, that made the ceiling underneath the dome revolve like the heavens, while perfume was sprayed and rose petals were dropped on the assembled diners. According to some accounts, perhaps embellished by Nero's political enemies, on one occasion such quantities of rose petals were dropped that one unlucky guest was asphyxiated
"Nero gave the best parties, ever," archaeologist Wallace-Hadrill told an interviewer when the Golden House was reopened to visitors in 1999 after being closed for years for restorations. "Three hundred years after his death, tokens bearing his head were still being given out at public spectacles - a memento of the greatest showman of them all." Nero, who was obsessed with his status as an artist, certainly regarded parties as works of art.
After Nero's death, the Golden House was a severe embarrassment to his successors. It was stripped of its marble, its jewels and its ivory within a decade. Soon after Nero’s death, the palace and grounds, encompassing 2.6 km² , were filled with earth and built over: the Baths of Titus  were already being built on part of the site in 79 AD. On the site of the lake, in the middle of the palace grounds, Vespasian built the Flavian Amphitheatre,  which could be reflooded at will, with the Colossus Neronis beside it.The Baths of Trajan, and the Temple of Venus and Rome  were also built on the site. Within 40 years, the Golden House was completely obliterated, buried beneath the new constructions, but paradoxically this ensured the wallpaintings' survival by protecting them from dampness.
Increasing concerns about the condition of the building and the safety of visitors resulted in its closing at the end of 2005 for further restoration work. The complex was partially reopened on February 6, 2007, but closed on March 25, 2008 because of safety concerns.
The likely remains of Nero's rotating banquet hall and its underlying mechanism were unveiled by archeologists on September 29, 2009.

To read about the collapse:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Architecture of the War in Afghanistan

These pictures have been downloaded from I´m showing them as a sample of the horrors of the war and of how cities are affected. There is a possibility to make a donation for the Cryptome collection of files from June 1996 to the present. 
This is the link to the web site

Protección Patrimonial en Buenos Aires. La Lucha de los Vecinos

Fachada del Cementerio de la Recoleta, en Buenos Aires. De
Me interesa mostrar el interés de los vecinos porteños a la hora de defender un edificio que ellos consideran de valor arquitectónico-histórico. Por supuesto, es innegable el valor del cementerio de la Recoleta, pero hay otras construcciones no tan reconocidas, que también tienen su valor ciertos grupos vecinales, que ahúnan esfuerzos para evitar su demolición. 
Aquí, un resumen de la nota de Diana Salinas Plaza para el diario argentino La Nación, publicada el 23 de enero de 2010.

Una llamada, un correo electrónico, un mensaje en Facebook, un recurso de amparo. Sea por el medio que fuere, cada vez son más los vecinos porteños quienes alertan cuando algún patrimonio arquitectónico está en riesgo. Y logran salvarlo. Se movilizan para lograr su objetivo: salvar edificios, monumentos, plazas y conjuntos barriales de alto valor histórico. Tanto es así que, en 2009, lograron que se abriera una Defensoría adjunta que recibe sus denuncias; que se sancionara una ley que modifica procedimientos legales para demoler edificios; que se frenaran demoliciones, y hasta que el gobierno porteño diera marcha atrás en los trabajos que hacía sobre algunos monumentos. Estas iniciativas individuales muchas veces terminan dando forma a asociaciones más grandes. Ya hay más de 44 organizaciones en una red que funciona bajo el nombre de Queremos Buenos Aires.
Trabajo hormiga
"¿Vieron que están vendiendo «el Castillito»? En el cartel, sólo explican las bondades del terreno como para construir", advirtió Andrea López, una vecina de Floresta. Fue ella quien observó el cartel de "Se vende" en "el Castillito", una espectacular casona que queda a la vuelta de su casa, en Dolores 438.
"Ana nos comentó. Llamamos a la inmobiliaria haciéndonos pasar por compradores interesados. Ahí nos confirmaron que una vez adquirido el inmueble se podía hacer cualquier cosa, incluso demolerlo", comentó Gabriel de Bela, uno de los vecinos que, junto con la asociación Salvar Floresta, inició el trabajo hormiga. Según contaron a LA NACION, consultaron en el Ministerio de Planeamiento Urbano si el inmueble tenía algún tipo de protección que evitara, por sus características arquitectónicas, ser demolido. Ante la negativa, iniciaron la movida para lograrlo. Esto incluyó recolección de firmas, reuniones, consultas a expertos, solicitudes de la protección necesaria, que se llama "catalogación", y diálogos constantes con la inmobiliaria, que generosamente aceptó la inquietud vecinal: cambiaron el aviso y expusieron las características de la propiedad, advirtiendo que se trataba de una casona en proceso de catalogación.
Otro caso es el de las escalinatas del cementerio de la Recoleta. Un vecino del barrio, integrante de la organización Basta de Demoler, paseaba un domingo por la zona y observó que parte de las escalinatas de la entrada de honor habían sido destruidas. A través de denuncias a la Defensoría del Pueblo y correos electrónicos de protesta a arquitectos y vecinos, se detuvo la obra del gobierno de la ciudad que estaba construyendo allí rampas. Según argumentaron los vecinos, se podían construir en otros accesos, sin tener que demoler el valiosísimo mármol de Carrara de las escalinatas, construidas por Juan Antonio Buschiazzo en 1881.
En la mayoría de los casos, los vecinos acuden a la Defensoría del Pueblo. Pero cuando la demolición es inminente, presentan recursos de amparo y a veces ellos mismos inician el proceso de catalogación, que implica un prolongado trabajo.
"En Buenos Aires, la protección patrimonial pasó de ser un asunto profesional a una militancia de miles de vecinos", dijo Gerardo Gómez Coronado, defensor adjunto encargado de proteger la preservación arquitectónica, cargo inaugurado en mayo de 2009. "Este cambio en la mirada de la protección trajo aparejado que se hayan logrado salvar innumerables edificaciones que corrían riesgo ante el mercado inmobiliario. En total, recibimos mensualmente un promedio de 15 a 20 denuncias de los vecinos. Y entre julio y diciembre, recibimos 100 consultas", detalló Gómez Coronado. "La participación vecinal hizo que en cada cuadra tuviéramos «inspectores», lo que trajo de la mano una especie de control."
Para leer toda la nota:

Friday, March 26, 2010

Report from the Besieged City. Poem by Zbigniew Herbert (1924-1998).

The devastated city of Danzig. From

Too old to carry arms and fight like the others - 

they graciously gave me the inferior role of chronicler 

I record - I don't know for whom - the history of the siege 

I am supposed to be exact but I don't know when the invasion began 

two hundred years ago in December in September perhaps yesterday at dawn 

everyone here suffers from a loss of the sense of time 

all we have left is the place the attachment to the place 

we still rule over the ruins of temples spectres of gardens and houses 

if we lose the ruins nothing will be left 

I write as I can in the rhythm of interminable weeks 

monday: empty storehouses a rat became the unit of currency 

tuesday: the mayor murdered by unknown assailants 

wednesday: negotiations for a cease-fire the enemy has imprisoned our messengers 

we don't know where they are held that is the place of torture 

thursday: after a stormy meeting a majority of voices rejected 

the motion of the spice merchants for unconditional surrender 

friday: the beginning of the plague saturday: our invincible defender 

N.N. committed suicide sunday: no more water we drove back 

an attack at the eastern gate called the Gate of the Alliance 

all of this is monotonous I know it can't move anyone 

I avoid any commentary I keep a tight hold on my emotions I write about the facts 

only they it seems are appreciated in foreign markets 

yet with a certain pride I would like to inform the world 

that thanks to the war we have raised a new species of children 

our children don’t like fairy tales they play at killing 

awake and asleep they dream of soup of bread and bones 

just like dogs and cats 

in the evening I like to wander near the outposts of the city 

along the frontier of our uncertain freedom. 

I look at the swarms of soldiers below their lights 

I listen to the noise of drums barbarian shrieks 

truly it is inconceivable the City is still defending itself 

the siege has lasted a long time the enemies must take turns 

nothing unites them except the desire for our extermination 

Goths the Tartars Swedes troops of the Emperor regiments of the Transfiguration 

who can count them 

the colours of their banners change like the forest on the horizon 

from delicate bird's yellow in spring through green through red to winter's black 

and so in the evening released from facts I can think 

about distant ancient matters for example our 

friends beyond the sea I know they sincerely sympathize 

they send us flour lard sacks of comfort and good advice 

they don’t even know their fathers betrayed us 

our former allies at the time of the second Apocalypse 

their sons are blameless they deserve our gratitude therefore we are grateful 

they have not experienced a siege as long as eternity 

those struck by misfortune are always alone 

the defenders of the Dalai Lama the Kurds the Afghan mountaineers 

now as I write these words the advocates of conciliation 

have won the upper hand over the party of inflexibles 

a normal hesitation of moods fate still hangs in the balance 

cemeteries grow larger the number of defenders is smaller 

yet the defence continues it will continue to the end 

and if the City falls but a single man escapes 

he will carry the City within himself on the roads of exile 

he will be the City 

we look in the face of hunger the face of fire face of death 

worst of all - the face of betrayal 

and only our dreams have not been humiliated


Architecture. Poem by Zbigniew Herbert (1924-1998)

Over a delicate arch--

an eyebrow of stone--

on the unruffled forehead
of a wall

in joyful and open windows
where there are faces instead of geraniums

where rigorous rectangles
border a dreaming perspective

where a stream awakened by an ornament
flows on a quiet field of surfaces

movement meets stillness a line meets a shout
trembling uncertainty simple clarity

you are there
art of fantasy and stone

there you reside beauty
over an arch
light as a sigh

on a wall
pale from altitude

and a window
tearful with a pane of glass

a fugitive from apparent forms

I proclaim your motionless dance

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Las paredes de Buenos Aires se cubren de murales: El Arte Como Transformador Social

En el hospital Garrahan se inauguró esta semana el mural de la artista Nushi Muntaabski Foto: LA NACION   /   Maxie Amena

Muchas veces he visto murales en mi hermosa ciudad de Buenos Aires, no tantos como en Los Angeles, que dicho sea de paso, aún siguen maltratados por los grafittis, cada vez más. Sin embargo, en este artículo de Susana Reinoso para el diario La Nación, se deja claro que también existe un gran fin social, en el trabajo de las villas (slums). Es muy interesante notar el cambio de actitud de la gente ante un mural religioso. A continuación, el artículo y el link.
Las paredes de Buenos Aires transmiten mensajes. A veces arrancan sonrisas o dejan pensando a los transeúntes. La tendencia de pintar murales ha crecido en la ciudad, y ya no sólo se embellecen los muros. Tanto el gobierno porteño como diversas ONG -con el Bicentenario como emblema-, pasando por la empresa Metrovías o el empresario Alan Faena, intervienen centros culturales en barrios, hospitales y escuelas públicas con murales que recrean temas históricos o del presente. O, simplemente, los creadores dejan volar su imaginación.
La entidad Arte sin Techo, por ejemplo, aportó su primer mural del Bicentenario para la plazoleta de calle Paraguay y Gallo, a espaldas del Hospital de Niños. Como sostenía la fallecida presidenta de Arte sin Techo, Felicitas Luisi: "Cuando pinta murales, la gente de la calle pasa de ser un NN a tener identidad. La pintura mural los transforma".
El artista Pablo Siquier es uno de los más requeridos para la tarea artística. En diciembre, Metrovías inauguró su más reciente obra en uno de los pasajes de la estación Carlos Pellegrini que transfieren varias líneas de subte. Su anterior mural fue para el Faena Art District y comenzó a pintar un tercero para la Facultad de Arquitectura de la UBA, a pedido del Programa Puertas del Bicentenario porteño.
Cuando el Estado interviene, una tendencia en curso adquiere más visibilidad. Es lo que ocurre con el Programa Puertas del Bicentenario, que este año completará los 70 murales en la ciudad, pensados como parte del legado histórico de la celebración de los 200 años de la Argentina. Los artistas participantes representan una diversidad de miradas, estilos y trayectorias.
Hay obras ya inauguradas de Antonia Guzmán, Vilma Piparo, Ernesto Pesce, Eduardo Stupía, Jorge Meijide y Héctor Meana, entre otros, pintadas en escuelas y hospitales de Palermo, Retiro, La Boca, Villa Ortúzar, San Cristóbal, Villa Crespo y Barracas, entre otros barrios porteños.
Imágenes patrias
La empresa Metrovías, según su área de Prensa, lleva 12 años creando murales en todas las estaciones de subte y premetro de su jurisdicción. Hermenegildo Sabat, Altuna, Robirosa, Polesello, García Sáez son algunos de los artistas que ya dejaron su sello en el subte porteño. Los murales de este año tendrán la marca "Bicentenario". La intención de Metrovías es inaugurar "una seguidilla de imágenes patrias".
Quizás uno de los programas más conmovedores en materia de pintura mural sea el que lleva adelante el Grupo Cruz del Sur, con el fin de prevenir la violencia y las adicciones de decenas de jóvenes que viven en las villas miseria porteñas.
"Creemos en el arte como transformador social", dice Damián Cápola, uno de los fundadores de la ONG, a LA NACION. Cruz del Sur trabaja en 16 villas y barrios carenciados de Buenos Aires. Con la modalidad de talleres, la entidad ha realizado el 90% de los más de 100 murales que ya se han pintado en las villas. "El verdadero héroe es el héroe en grupo", dice Cápola, que trabaja "con chicos que consumen paco y están en una edad de quiebre. Son chicos menores de 13 años que viven incluso en lugares donde existe una red de pedofilia enorme. Hemos comprobado que la violencia baja en los pasillos de las villas, donde se agarran a los tiros por lo menos una vez al día".
Hace un tiempo, el Grupo Cruz del Sur y los chicos de la villa pintaron una imagen de la Virgen de Caacupé. "En ese pasillo dejaron de tirotearse", dice Cápola con la espontaneidad de quien cree en los milagros. Fue también testigo de otro hecho insólito. Un hombre al que le faltaba una pierna se arrodilló como pudo frente a la imagen de un Cristo enorme que los chicos pintaban en uno de los muros de la villa donde viven. "Los pasillos cambian de nombre con la pintura mural. Hoy la gente habla del pasillo del ángel del amor o el pasillo del ángel de la música", cuenta con orgullo. Quizá los efectos que la pintura mural tiene sobre los chicos puedan explicarse en pocas palabras: "Los chicos se dan cuenta de que puede haber un futuro. Si pueden realizar una reproducción de la Virgen de Luján u otra creación artística con su propia mano, entonces pueden transformar su vida".

Monday, March 22, 2010

Artistic Works Inside Egyptian Tombs

Drawing by Faucher-Gudin taken from a ¨squeeze¨ from the tomb of Ti. The domains are represented as women. The name is written before each figure with the designation of the landowner. Image from

This post is the second part of the previous one (About the Egyptian Village). 
It is an excerpt from the book at project History of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia and Assyria. By G. Maspero, who is introduced as ¨Honorable Doctor of Civil Laws, and Fellow of Queen´s College, Oxford; Member of the Institute and Professor at the College of France¨. Edited by A. H. Sayce, professor of Assyriology, Oxford. The Grolier Society, London. (out of print)

Drawing by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Dumichen, Resultate, vol.i. pl. 13. Project

¨Neither pictorial effect nor the caprice of the moment was permitted to guide the artist in the choice of his subjects; all that he drew, pictures or words, bad a magical purpose. Every individual who built for himself an "eternal house," either attached to it a staff of priests of the double, of inspectors, scribes, and slaves, or else made an agreement with the priests of a neighbouring temple to serve the chapel in perpetuity. Lands taken from his patrimony, which thus became the "Domains of the Eternal House," rewarded them for their trouble, and supplied them with meats, vegetables, fruits, liquors, linen and vessels for sacrifice.
In theory, these "liturgies" were perpetuated from year to year, until the end of time; but in practice, after three or four generations, the older ancestors were forsaken for those who had died more recently. Notwithstanding the imprecations and threats of the donor against the priests who should neglect their duty, or against those who should usurp the funeral endowments, sooner or later there came a time when, forsaken by all, the double was in danger of perishing for want of sustenance. In order to ensure that the promised gifts, offered in substance on the day of burial, should be maintained throughout the centuries, the relatives not only depicted them upon the chapel walls, but represented in addition the lands which produced them, and the labour which contributed to their production. On one side we see ploughing, sowing, reaping, the carrying of the corn, the storing of the grain, the fattening of the poultry, and the driving of the cattle. A little further on, workmen of all descriptions are engaged in their several trades: shoemakers ply the awl, glassmakers blow through their tubes, metal founders watch over their smelting-pots, carpenters hew down trees and build a ship; groups of women weave or spin under the eye of a frowning taskmaster, who seems impatient of their chatter. Did the double in his hunger desire meat? He might choose from the pictures on the wall the animal that pleased him best, whether kid, ox, or gazelle; he might follow the course of its life, from its birth in the meadows to the slaughter-house and the kitchen, and might satisfy his hunger with its flesh. The double saw himself represented in the paintings as hunting, and to the hunt he went; he was painted eating and drinking with his wife, and he ate and drank with her; the pictured ploughing, harvesting, and gathering into barns, thus became to him actual realities. In fine, this painted world of men and things represented upon the wall was quickened by the same life which animated the double, upon whom it all depended: the picture of a meal or of a slave was perhaps that which best suited the shade of guest or of master.
Even to-day, when we enter one of these decorated chapels, the idea of death scarcely presents itself: we have rather the impression of being in some old-world house, to which the master may at any moment return. We see him portrayed everywhere upon the walls, followed by his servants, and surrounded by everything which made his earthly life enjoyable. One or two statues of him stand at the end of the room, in constant readiness to undergo the "Opening of the Mouth" and to receive offerings. Should these be accidentally removed, others, secreted in a little chamber hidden in the thickness of the masonry, are there to replace them. These inner chambers have rarely any external outlet, though occasionally they are connected with the chapel by a small opening, so narrow that it will hardly admit of a hand being passed through it. Those who came to repeat prayers and burn incense at this aperture were received by the dead in person. The statues were not mere images, devoid of consciousness. Just as the double of a god could be linked to an idol in the temple sanctuary in order to transform it into a prophetic being, capable of speech and movement, so when the double of a man was attached to the effigy of his earthly body, whether in stone, metal, or wood, a real living person was created and was introduced into the tomb. So strong was this conviction that the belief has lived on through two changes of religion until the present day. The double still haunts the statues with which he was associated in the past. As in former times, he yet strikes with madness or death any who dare to disturb his repose; and one can only be protected from him by breaking, at the moment of discovery, the perfect statues which the vault contains. The double is weakened or killed by the mutilation of these his sustainers.¨


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