Lost in the Louvre

Hubby and I share a love of history and of course, that extends to museums. Whenever we travel, we make it a point to go to the nearest museum and since this is Paris, of course, the Louvre was on our list.

Right off the Metro station outside the Louvre.

Just a tip if you’re planning to be in Paris on the first week of the month: entrance to museums, including the Louvre, are generally free on the first Sunday of every month. Unfortunately though, we were a week too early for that. There are various skip the line tickets being sold online; I don’t know what the benefits are but there are no long queues buying tickets and getting in, and if you do your research well enough (or know how to read a map), you’d be fine on your own.
They say that even if you spend just seconds in front of every artifact inside the Louvre, it would take you more than three months to cover all of them. And I assure you, it would take you at least a few minutes to gawk at one artwork before you can move to the next. Luckily, hubby has been to the Louvre before, and I already knew which artworks I wanted to see so our work was cut out neatly for us. 
Egyptian Antiquities
I have always been fascinated with Egypt as I am sure a lot are – I just love how mysterious it is, how far advanced its ancient civilization seemed to be even for our modern age. So it was only natural that this would be our first stop (and of course, I had to drag our entire group with me). 
Egypt is in my must visit places before I die, but with the political turmoil there, this might be a long time in the making.
There are a lot of scrolls and tablets with hieroglyphics which I won’t post anymore but here are my favorites from the “beauty” section:

Look at those cuffs! They would be so en vouge right now, wouldn’t they?

Pots and jars used for beauty rituals.
These may be a bit tarnish, but the ones you see above are mostly vanity mirrors. Aren’t they so quaint?

There is also a section full of statues of the Egyptian gods, but I didn’t linger here. 😀

Sekhmet
I’ve read a lot of people say that Egypt is a place in love with death. Quite true as I think the ancients are quite fascinated with death and the concept of the afterlife. Think it morbid of me but I actually am too, so among the many highlights of our Louvre visit was seeing Ramesses III’s pink granite sarcophagus, mummies, and actual book of the dead.
Isis carved at the flat edge of the sarcophagus, and her sister Nephthys at the rounded edge. On the sides are stories about the daily journey of the sun god Ra across the Duat.
Fun fact: did you know that a coffin refers to a wooden box while a sarcophagus refers to a stone one?  This sarcophagus of Ramesses III weighs a whopping 18 tons! Reminds me of the characters of Lestat and Louis (from Anne Rice’s novels), when Lestat had to lift open Louis’ sarcophagus because he wasn’t strong enough to do it on his own.

Of course, if there are coffins and sarcophagi, there’s bound to be a mummy, right?
Right.
Now, I don’t really know who this dead guy is but it really gave me chills to see this display up close. Those little jars you see near his head and beside his hip are just two of the containers used to keep his organs, for when, you know, he lives in the afterlife and needs them again.

I was half-expecting the book of the dead to be some fancy schmancy leather/gold bound book ala The Mummy so I was a bit disappointed to see rolls of papyri. 
Nah. Of course I was very happy to see this.

This Book of the Dead depicts a deceased person’s deeds on earth, his heart being weighed against the feather by Anubis, and if it is lighter, then he fed to Ammit.If not, then he lives happily ever after in the afterlife, among the gods.

Every book of the dead is unique, and most also contain magical spells and rituals. Of course I can’t read hierogplyphics so I can’t tell you if there are any particular spells in this book.  I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was younger but I figured I don’t have the patience for it so I became an accountant instead. Haha.
Galerie d’Apollon
 
Okay, enough of the morbid stuff. Let’s move on to the arts. 
If Versailles has the Hall of Mirrors (more on that in another post), the Louvre has  Galerie d’Apollon, which was actually the model for the former. Both served as royal palaces but when Louis XV chose Versailles as his primary residence, the Louvre functoned more as a fortress/office, and a museum to house the royal collections.

I find the Apollo Gallery grander than the Hall of Mirrors
Bejeweled crowns. I wonder how heavy those are.

How anyone can look into the mirror without getting distracted by all those jewels is quite beyond me.

Not even the ceiling of the Louvre was spared from art.

Greek Antiquities
 
I am not very fond of statues; for some reason, I keep fearing they would spring to life and chase me but I have to admit, these beauties are impressive:

Materpieces, from left: Nike of Samothrace (or more popularly know as the Winged Victory of Samothrace ), Aphrodite (Venus de Milo), and Artemis (Diana). The latter is my favorite, but then, you all know that. Artemis/Diana/Selene (the two are mostly identified as the goddess of the hunt; the 3rd is the goddess of the moon) are the inspiration for my childhood anime favorite, Sailormoon.
A lot of nude statues. It amuses me that the epitome of beauty back then is almost equivalent to having rounded curves. Ever seen a thin statue being considered as representation of beauty? Now, it’s all about the skinny.

I forgot where we were when I took this photo (Roman Antiquities, probably), so I don’t remember if this is Bacchus or Dionysus. 😛
Mona Lisa
No visit to the Louvre is complete without paying homage to the lady with the mysterious smile (cue music: are you real, Mona Lisa? Or just a cold and lonely lovely work of art). For those who do not know what to expect, you’d probably be disappointed to discover that this masterpiece is quite small (slightly bigger than an oslo paper), and since a lot of people want to get up close and personal, there’s actually a rope and guards to make sure no one gets to do just that.

I didn’t have the patience to elbow my way to the front of the red velvet rope (and the serious body odor was nauseaus) and this was as close as I could get.

Right before you exit, you’ll see these touching pyramids. For Dan Brown fans, this place needs no further introduction:

We only spent half a day at the Louvre and would have loved to stay longer but our feet were killing us (and all those extra baby weight I’m carrying didn’t help) so hubby and I agreed that the next time we’re in Europe, we’ll allot a few more days to the Louvre.
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2 thoughts on “Lost in the Louvre

  1. Pingback: The Louvre (Part II) and the Tuileries | It's a Charmed Life

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