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Arte-Factual

Arte-Factual: Egyptian Cat Statue (Tomb Raider 1)

Yesterday was World Cat Day so I thought I’d celebrate it (albeit belatedly) by writing a post about one of the most easily recognisable artefacts seen in the original Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider Gold: Unfinished Business, the Gayer-Anderson cat statue. A replica of this famous and much-loved statue could be found in the City of Khamoon and was apparently so appealing that Lara returned to the site in Unfinished Business to add the statue to her growing collection of looted, ahem, ... [Continue Reading]

August 9, 2013 // 15 Comments

Arte-Factual: Kansu Burial Urn (Tomb Raider 2013)

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for another edition of Arte-Factual! Last time, we looked at the killer whale bottle from Tomb Raider: Anniversary and learnt a little about the Nasca, their beliefs, and their art. This time we’ll be taking a close look at one of the many collectable items found in Tomb Raider 2013: the Kansu burial urn. The “Kansu burial urn” bears a striking resemblance to a ceramic jar in the Asia Society’s collection, a Banshan type storage ... [Continue Reading]

July 10, 2013 // 11 Comments

Arte-Factual: Killer Whale Bottle (Tomb Raider: Anniversary)

In the last edition of Arte-Factual, we looked at the Golden Mask of Tornarsuk and learnt a little about Inuit culture and mythology. In this edition, we will be turning our attention to one of the collectable relics found in Tomb Raider: Anniversary: the Killer Whale Bottle. Like many of the artefacts and relics that have appeared in the last few Tomb Raider games, the Killer Whale Bottle is modelled after a real-life artefact. In this case, a Nasca polychrome ceramic effigy vessel which is ... [Continue Reading]

June 25, 2013 // 15 Comments

Arte-Factual: Mask of Tornarsuk (Tomb Raider 2: Golden Mask)

In this edition of Arte-Factual, we turn our attention to the Golden Mask of Tornarsuk, an artefact that makes an appearance in Tomb Raider II: The Golden Mask, a five-level mini-adventure that was created for the 1999 “Gold” edition re-release of Tomb Raider II. According to Inuit mythology, Tornarsuk (also known as Torngarsuk) is a god, or supernatural being, who is usually depicted in either polar bear or human form and is the leader of the tornat (or tuurngait), nature ... [Continue Reading]

May 24, 2013 // 9 Comments

Arte-Factual: Gunbai War Fan (Tomb Raider 2013)

In the last edition of Arte-Factual, we looked at the history and context of the Ban Chiang vase, one of the many collectable relics Lara stumbles upon in Tomb Raider 2013. This time, we will look at one of the relics Lara finds in the Mountain Temple: a Gunbai war fan. Gunbai fans, also known as gunbai uchiwa (軍配団扇) in Japanese, were once part of a samurai military commander’s standard command equipment and were used to direct troops in battle as well as offer the commander ... [Continue Reading]

May 3, 2013 // 7 Comments

Arte-Factual: Ban Chiang Pottery (Tomb Raider 2013)

The last two editions of Arte-Factual dealt with the art and archaeology of the very first Tomb Raider game. In this latest edition, I’ll be writing about one of the many collectable relics Lara comes across in the 2013 reboot: a Ban Chiang vase. We don’t really know how this ancient vase ended up on the island but Lara correctly identifies it as being from Thailand. Perhaps she had seen a similar vase in a museum or had visited the Ban Chiang archaeological site in ... [Continue Reading]

April 15, 2013 // 8 Comments

Arte-Factual: Chimú Bird Carving (Tomb Raider 1)

In the last edition of Arte-Factual, I looked at the Toltec Atlantes pillars that could be found in and around Qualopec’s tomb in the original Tomb Raider. In this edition, I will re-visit Qualopec’s tomb and examine another Pre-Columbian motif that can be seen on the walls of the fictional Atlantean king’s tomb: a Chimú bird carving. When the first Tomb Raider came out, I was studying Peruvian pottery and iconography as part of a GCSE art project, so I got some pleasure ... [Continue Reading]

April 11, 2013 // 13 Comments

Arte-Factual: Toltec Warriors (Tomb Raider 1)

Sharp-eyed gamers may have noticed that the same colossal sculptures appear repeatedly throughout the Peruvian levels of the original Tomb Raider (1996), most notably in the Tomb of Qualopec. These sculptures are, in fact, based on the real-life Atlantes, or Atlantean pillars, found at Tula, a Postclassic archaeological site in the Mexican state of Hidalgo.** The four Atlantes of Tula are basalt pillars carved in the form of Toltec warriors and are thought to have once supported the roof of ... [Continue Reading]

April 3, 2013 // 10 Comments