In ancient cultures the relationship of religion and art is such that, to a large extent, they may be considered synonymous, or at least essentially intrinsic to each other. Though what may be considered decorative forms, or domestic subjects, are present in ancient art, it appears that the fundamental function of art is the exegesis of the forms and ideas of the religious mind. In this manner art is essential in mediating the development of religious ideas as well as their instantiation in physical reality. As such, depictions of deities are extremely popular subjects throughout all cultures, many of which may be explicitly involved in ritual actions; for example, it is widely common that a statue is, in a ritualistic context, seen as literally embodying the deity in question. Similarly, amulets may be seen as possessing the qualities of an associated deity, ensuring their presence or enabling the adoption of their power.

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