Lady of the Two Lands

Lady of the Two Lands

Hatshepsut, the mighty Pharaoh of Upper and Lower Egypt, stands with pride as she admires the accomplishments of her ancient civilization. One of the many titles that Pharaohs went by is “Lord of the Two Lands” in reference to the regions of Upper and Lower Egypt (or southern and northern Egypt respectively, since Upper Egypt is further up the Nile’s course).

It’s been a while since I last drew Hatshepsut, but she is perhaps my favorite Pharaoh in all Egyptian history. Certainly she’s the most fun to draw. 😀

Egyptian in a Tree

Egyptian in a Tree

A young Egyptian girl enjoys the natural calm beside the Nile on the bough of a sycamore fig tree. Native to the Nile Valley and the African tropics, the sycamore fig tree (Ficus sycomorus) was a sacred tree to the Egyptians, who referred to it as the “Tree of Life” and would make their coffins out of its wood. Even in modern Egypt, the sycamore fig is associated with the family of Jesus Christ since they sheltered under one after fleeing to Egypt.

Isis the Enchantress

This is the digitally colored version of something I posted earlier…

Isis the Enchantress

Isis, who is perhaps the most famous of all the Egyptian goddesses, is ready to cast one of her magic spells. According to Egyptian mythology, she obtained her powers after learning the sun god Ra’s “secret name” (since the Egyptians believed learning a person’s secret name would allow you to control them magically), but for the most part she would use them for benevolent purposes such as healing and protection. This helped make Isis one of the most popular deities in the whole Egyptian pantheon in ancient times; even the Greeks and Romans would adopt her into their own religions.

A few Egyptian goddesses

Isis Casts a SpellIsis, who is perhaps the most famous of all the Egyptian goddesses, is casting one of her magic spells. According to Egyptian mythology, she apparently got her powers after learning the sun god Ra’s “secret name” (since the Egyptians believed learning a person’s secret name would allow you to control them magically), but for the most part she would use them for benevolent purposes such as healing and protection. This helped make Isis one of the most popular deities in the whole Egyptian pantheon in ancient times; even the Greeks and Romans would adopt her into their own religions.

Hathor II

This is another take of mine on Hathor, the Egyptian goddess of feminine love, beauty, and fertility. You can think of her as the Egyptian equivalent of the Greek Aphrodite or the Roman Venus. She’s also the goddess best known for her cow motif, although Isis could also take on a bovine form in some depictions.

The last time I drew Hathor, I thought her face came out too wonky for some reason, so I took another stab at depicting her with a somewhat “sexier” pose.

Nephthys 2007Nephthys (also known as Nebthet) was a protective goddess of the dead, nighttime, and rivers in the ancient Egyptian pantheon. She was also the sister of Isis, the wife of Set, and the mother of the jackal-masked Anubis. After Set murdered Osiris in the famous Egyptian myth of Horus, it was Nephthys who helped Isis recover Osiris’s scattered body parts (she was also Isis’s nursemaid for the infant Horus). In allusion to her role as protector of the dead, I’ve given Nephthys some linen mummy wrappings as part of her dress (e.g. her hair-wrap).

Sekhmet With Colored Pencils
This is a drawing of Sekhmet, the Egyptian goddess of war and violence, which I colored using a new set of colored pencils. Someone suggested that I dip my pencils into water first, and that trick seems to have smoothed out the coloring even though the pencils aren’t technically watercolor.

Poolside Beauty

Poolside Beauty

I don’t think they had bathing suits in ancient Egypt, Kush, or any of those other ancient civilizations (in classical Greece and Rome, swimming was an activity done naked). So this kind of getup (or lack thereof) for a female swimmer wouldn’t be that far off from the historical reality, thankfully. Besides, I was in the mood for another booty pin-up.

Amenirdis

Amenirdis

This is a portrait of the princess Amenirdis, who was a daughter of King Kashta of Kush. After her brother Piye conquered Egypt, she served as the God’s Wife of Amun (the highest rank of priestess) between 714 and 700 BC. She was actually the first of two Kushite high priestesses to have the name Amenirdis, the second one being her niece Shepenupet’s own niece.

This is one of those portraits I started out drawing before I knew who it was going to be in the end. That happens to me quite often, actually; I’ll set out to draw a random woman before I settle on a particular theme or identity for her. However, this time I was inspired by the gorgeous South Sudanese model Nyakim Gatwech (queenkim_nyakim on Instagram), even if the resemblance between her and my portrayal of Amenirdis might not appear so obvious now.

Punishment

Trumpets blared like the cries of elephants, and drums cracked louder than a thunderclap. The populace of Waset, capital of Egypt, poured out from their mudbrick houses to gather alongside the city’s main avenue. Fathers hauled their sons onto their shoulders, mothers let their daughters stand beside them, and youths stepped aside to make way for the elders on their walking sticks. Shaded by palm trees and the rearing statues of gods and past rulers, the people waited with buzzing eagerness for the upcoming procession.

None of them looked behind to notice the white-robed stranger.

His eyes, framed by tawny skin paler than the dark brown Egyptians, peered from the veil over his face. None of the natives would cover themselves as much as he did, with the men preferring linen loincloths and the women gowns that stopped below the breasts. The stranger may have felt hot under his robe, hot as the flames that had devoured his tribe’s goat-hair tents. But he had meant it that way.

The musicians’ drums continued to rumble, joined by the rattling of sistrums, the shrill whine of flutes, and the twanging of bow-shaped harps. Women sang, men chanted, and dancing girls pranced and shook their oiled bodies at the parade’s forefront. On both sides of the avenue, the spectating citizenry clapped, cheered, and stamped their feet, kicking up clouds of dust.

The white-robed stranger lowered his turban over his ears to block out the heathen clamor, to little avail. The noise tortured him even when muffled.

Behind the dancers and musicians marched rows of soldiers, hooting as they beat their hide shields with their spears, axes, and curved khopesh swords. The bronze of their weapons gleamed bright and clean below the late morning sunlight.

The last time the white-robed stranger had seen those weapons, they had been washed red with the blood of his tribe. He clenched a fist around the hilt of his own scimitar which rested under his belt.

Horses crowned with waving ostrich plumes trotted next, drawing the gilded chariots on which Egypt’s elite fighters rode. Clad in bands of leather armor over their chests, they grinned and waved at the audience as they passed. More than a few young maidens in the crowd showered the charioteers with lotus flowers, hoping to receive winking glances in exchange.

The drumming escalated into a booming frenzy when the Crown Prince of Egypt himself rode in on the final chariot. Jewelry of gold and precious stones dazzled all over his lean and muscular body. He did not look at the spectators, but instead had his blue-crowned head tilted up to face the sun, as if basking in both its warmth and the glory he had earned on his last campaign.

Last came the spoils of the Prince’s recent victory. Tan-skinned men, women, and children shuffled in lines yoked to one another, with hands bound behind their backs. The Egyptian onlookers’ cheering gave way to jeering as they pelted the captives with rocks, handfuls of dirt, and epithets too vile to describe.

The white-robed stranger retreated into the shadows of an alleyway. Those were his people being dragged behind like stolen livestock. His cousins, his brothers and sisters, maybe even his mother, unless she had fallen like his father. Half of his entire tribe had already died fighting these Egyptian devils, and he did not even want to find out what fate they had planned for the rest.

He would sooner die than watch his people suffer. But not before inflicting one last blow.

The white-robed stranger glided down the empty streets that ran parallel to the main avenue. He turned and climbed a ladder onto one of the houses’ palm-thatched roofs, crouching behind its parapet. This house overlooked a limestone platform rising from a plaza at the avenue’s end, in front of the Pharaoh’s towering place. On this stage stood the old Pharaoh of Egypt himself, accompanied by his comely Great Wife, a circle of officials, and guards along the rim.

The white-robed stranger unslung his bow and pulled out an arrow from his quiver.

The music silenced at last once the Crown Prince and his procession reached the plaza. As the soldiers and musicians assembled around the stage, the Prince hopped onto it from his chariot and knelt before his father and mother.

“It is good to be home, dear Father, Lord of Upper and Lower Egypt,” the Prince said aloud. “You will be pleased to know that I have crushed the treacherous Israelites as you commanded. Never again will they terrorize our eastern provinces!”

The white-robed stranger bared his teeth in a snarl as he drew the arrow against his bow, pulling the string taut. These Egyptians had convinced themselves that his people, the children of Israel, were terrorizing them. Never mind that it was Egypt that had broken into his homeland like ravenous jackals hungry for territory and tribute. And it was Egypt that would ravage anyone who dared question their tyranny.

Their lies would not go unpunished.

“Elohim be praised!” he hollered as he released the arrow.

It shot through the Crown Prince’s skull, and he crumpled on the stage into a puddle of his own blood and brains. All the Egyptians’ eyes rose to goggle at his assassin on the rooftop.

“I am Hoshea of Israel,” the man in the white robe said. “You have raped, massacred, and enslaved my people. It is you who have terrorized us. So, indeed, I shall repay the favor by terrorizing you in turn!”

Tearing out his scimitar, Hoshea vaulted from the roof onto the plaza with a shrieking battle cry. The Egyptian soldiers and guards charged after him on all sides until they had him fenced in with their weapons. He did not even think of flight. Vengeful wrath blazed throughout his entire brain as he slashed, hacked, and parried his attackers while spinning like a desert whirlwind. His once white robe turned red with blood, both from the Egyptians and his own wounds.

The sharp cold point of a spear plunged through his heart from behind.

Hoshea did not scream from his pain. He had done what he set out to do. Much as the armies of Egypt had terrorized the children of Israel, so too had he struck terror into their hearts. Even the draining of his strength could only soothe him. With his vengeance wrought on behalf of his people, the time had come for his anger to subside and give way to the bliss of Paradise.

The last thing Hoshea would ever hear was the Pharaoh of Egypt announcing that the Israelites’ crime would not go unpunished.