The Presence of Ancient Egypt in the Brazilian Press

Brazilian emperor Dom Pedro depicted as sphinx Pyramids, Sphinxes and pharaohs. These and other elements of Ancient Egypt are included in cartoons and caricatures published in the Brazilian press. This is what the research by Karine Lima, a history student at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUC-RS) shows.

She started research on the matter around two years ago, and it will become the work concluding her bachelor's degree. Karine has not yet finished the study, which should still take a year and a half, but she already has some conclusions about the matter.

One of them is that these elements of Ancient Egypt are used by cartoonists and caricaturists as they are well known by the general public. "You can talk to a layman or a specialist about pyramids, and they will both know what they are," explained the student.

Cartoons show figures that are well known to the general public. The idea is that readers should see them and understand them very fast, even without a long text explaining the matter. "These icons are in the heads of people, everybody knows them," stated Karina.

The student already has a collection of 70 cartoons and caricatures in newspapers and humor sites in South America, mainly Brazil. One of the caricatures is from 1871, in Ilustrada magazine, one of the first Art publications in Brazil, and it shows the face of emperor Dom Pedro II on the Sphinx.

"Dom Pedro was the Brazilian emperor and he loved Egypt. Brazilians said he needed to concern himself with Brazil and not Egypt," stated Karine.

The cartoons and caricatures analyzed range from the 19th to 21st centuries. One of them shows Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva dressed like a pharaoh, with the pyramids in the background, and in his hand, instead of a cane, there are question marks. The cartoon was drawn in 2003, when the Brazilian president travelled to the Arab country.

Another shows Lula and his wife, Marisa, looking at sarcophaguses. Another, from site Portuguelândia, shows Anthony Garotinho, former governor of Rio de Janeiro (southeastern Brazil), in front of the pyramids with the caption: "Pyramids of Egypt. One more construction by the government of the state of Rio de Janeiro."

One of the objectives of Karine's research is to discover why the ancient Egyptian civilization is so present in the Brazilian imagination. Karine has already collected the cartoons and is currently studying the theory of humor. The next step, which has already started, will be interviewing cartoonists to learn a little more about the use of Egyptian elements in their creations.

The research is, in reality, part of a larger study developed by professor Margarete Bakos, from PUC-RS, through the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). Margarete is guiding her in her course conclusion work. Karine is in the seventh term of her graduate course in history and started the research in her second term, when she met the professor.

Karine stated that she decided to study history due to her curiosity regarding Egypt. "Since fifth grade (of grade school), when I first heard about Egypt, I have been interested in the matter. I did not like history very much, but I loved Egypt," stated the student, who was born in Porto Alegre but has not yet visited the Arab country.

The student plans to do her Master's and also her Doctorate in Egyptology. Karine does not plan to transform her study about cartoons into a book, but she considers the possibility of expanding it further, beyond the South American countries.

Anba – www.anba.com.br

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