Reviewing the history of beauty


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The concept of beauty originated with the ancient Egyptians in reference to architecture and has since developed into how we perceive it today. This article outlines the development of the concept of beauty throughout history.

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Reviewing the history of beauty

  1. 1. MATC Beauty school-Reviewing the History of BeautyWhen history is carefully reviewed, beauty may seem like a really fickle thing. Throughout the centuries,the concept of beauty, or what has been considered to be beautiful, has been different.Today, a product is considered to pretty if it is attractive visually. The civilization that produced theobjects that are the closest to the modern perception of beauty was ancient Egypt.The Concept of Beauty In the beginning, the concept of beauty existed, but it did not have a particular term with which it was referred to in ancient languages. The earliest reference to such a term is found in the title of a work in the library catalogues of the Edphu temple. The title indicates that the rest of the document was abouthow to decorate walls, but the title is all that remains of this ancient text. Most of the time when beautywas referred to, it was in reference to architecture.It soon became equated with mathematics and the theory of proportions which were used by buildersand artists of the time when constructing buildings. The earliest point in time that the theory ofproportions began to be used, that modern researchers know of, was in 600 BC when Egyptiansmeasured the reliefs in Sakkara.The reliefs were located in the tomb of the pharaoh Zhoser. They were created in 2800 BC.The theory of proportions was created from these measurements and it began to be applied in theconstruction of buildings. These proportions were especially used in the construction of temples toimportant deities.
  2. 2. The History and Study of BeautyBy the time of the Middle Ages, beauty became something that was actually researched. However, itwas classified as a study under theology.It was placed there because beauty is considered to be a characteristic of God. As God was perfect, Heemulated perfect beauty.Augustine is the most well known researcher who pursued this study. He defined this term as ‘unity andorder which emerge from complexity.’Augustine also gave examples of his definition such as rhythm, symmetry, and simple proportions. Later,Thomas Aquinas philosophized on beauty on as well.He lived between 1225 and 1274 AD. Aquinas stated that beauty had three prerequisites which werewholeness or perfection, harmony, and clarity or brightness.The definitions of these ancient philosophers may lead one to wonder what Plato said about the beauty.Plato’s statements on the meaning of beauty are actually quite similar to how it is viewed today.He also connected the term with ‘good’ and ‘proper.’ Socrates and Aristotle also discussed beauty tosome extent.Aristotle connected the term with order, repetition of measure and exactness. This may have beeninfluenced by some of the architectural elements during the time.Perception of BeautyPlato also talked about how the idea of beauty in relation to attractiveness of an object is very abstract.This means that it is based on the perspective and perception of the beholder.
  3. 3. In about 532 BC it was discovered that musical instruments also had to be built in the right proportionsto create beautiful music. After this discovery, the theory of proportions began to be adapted for thehuman body as well.Along with the application of proportions to thehuman body, the idea of symmetry came back intofull force. However the term symmetry referredmore to how all of the parts of the body worktogether in agreement rather than lookingabsolutely the same.Soon the proportions discovered with the humanbody began to be applied to architecture as well.Throughout the ages, beauty has been verymathematical in nature.Due to the beliefs of the church and how beauty was regarded as a characteristic of God, the conceptthat beauty was a perception of the beholder was discouraged because it seemed a profane way discussthe subject as nothing on earth could exhibit the beauty which God could exhibit.However, when the Renaissance started, beauty became mainly a psychology of perception. At thispoint, people began to study it to find out what made the beholder believe that something in particularwas pretty.New concepts and theories were developed and implemented. Not only did the physical appearancefactor into how beautiful an object was, but the quality, usefulness, or moral values of an object orperson were also factored in.The concept of beauty has gone through a major evolution throughout the history of the world. It is veryinteresting to see where it has ended up today, but you will have to decide for yourself whether themodern concept is better that historical concept.
  4. 4. The beauty college at Mountainland Applied Technology College has been helping people to fulfill theirown perceptions of beauty for over 20 years. Learn more about how you can enroll in one of the besttechnical schools in Utah.