This woman from ancient Egypt has her hair covered with linen cloth to protect it from the sand and dust of the Sahara. It’s similar to an African-American do-rag, and there are Egyptian tomb paintings of men wearing similar headwraps while winnowing grain. And given the ancient Egyptian fondness for styling their hair (especially into braids and dreadlocks), they must have felt a similar need to protect and maintain it. We know people throughout Africa and the African Diaspora (e.g. African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans) wear wraps of cloth around their hair for that purpose, so maybe the Egyptians did as well?
By the way, if you’re seeing weird lines in her skin, those are dents in the sketchbook paper from an earlier drawing. Unfortunately, not all sketchbook paper is equally robust.
Today’s theme is going to be Egyptian warrior babes wielding nunchucks!
This my sketchy portrait of the Grand Vizier Ay, who is the main antagonist in my old short story The Battle Roar of Sekhmet. However, he is a real personage from ancient Egyptian history rather than a fictional character. Originally a nobleman from Akhmim in southern Egypt, Ay got his government career started under the Pharaoh Amenhotep III and continued under Akhenaten and Tutankhamun. After Tut’s early departure to the afterlife, Ay took his place as Pharaoh in 1323 BC, but seems to have been overthrown by the general Horemheb a mere four years later. Horemheb even went so far as to wipe out as much mention of him as possible from Egyptian records, as if trying to completely erase Ay from the annals of history.
In my story (which takes place in 1350 BC, early in the reign of Akhenaten), I portray Ay as a creepy and aging Vizier in charge of persecuting the traditional Egyptian religion on the behalf of Akhenaten’s “Atenist” reforms. And I honestly believe Ay was a creepy guy in real life, too. After Tut’s death, his widow Ankhesenamun sent a request to the Hittites to send her a prince for a husband, but the groom just happened to die en route and she ended up marrying Ay (her grandpa) anyway. Either he was ravenous for power and prestige, or he had a serious entitlement mentality with regards to women. Maybe both.
This is an updated design for Takhaet, a character I created for a short story back in early 2016. She was this veteran Egyptian soldier who started her career fighting for the Pharaoh Amenhotep III, but found herself (and her little niece Nebet) at the receiving end of religious persecution by Amenhotep’s “heretical” successor Akhenaten. The story, titled The Battle Roar of Sekhmet, was about her fighting on behalf of both her traditional religious beliefs and her niece. Among all my characters, I would say Takhaet ranks among my personal favorites since she’s the one Egyptian warrior chick whose story I actually finished.
Neitetis was a daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh Wahibre Haaibre (589-570 BC) who married the Persian Shah Cambyses II after her father had died in a coup.
According to a (probably fictitious) account by the Greek historian Athenaios of Naucratis, Cambyses had apparently bought into a stereotype that Egyptian women were better sexual performers than others and so requested that the Pharaoh Ahmose II send him one of his daughters as a bride. However, Egyptian Pharaohs normally did not give away their own daughters as wives for foreign kings, so Ahmose sent his predecessor’s daughter instead. At first, Cambyses seems to have been a satisfied customer, but once Neitetis disclosed to him that she was the daughter of Wahibre rather than Ahmose, he invaded and conquered Egypt out of fury at being cheated.
I doubt that’s how the Persian invasion of Egypt actually got started, but I think it is an amusing bit of fiction nonetheless, and it gave me the opportunity to mix ancient Persian and Egyptian influences in a portrait.
Did you know that the oldest recorded variation of the Cinderella fairy tale was set in ancient Egypt?
According to a brief account by the Greek historian Strabo, an Egyptian courtesan named Rhodopis had one of her sandals carried off by an eagle, which then dropped it in the Pharaoh’s lap. Once the Pharaoh’s men identified the sandal as hers, Rhodopis became his wife, and he buried her within the third pyramid at Giza. Of course, over the centuries the story would be embellished into a classic underdog tale, which Walt Disney would adapt into the animated movie we all grew up with.
For my interpretation of Cinderella, I combined influences from her original Egyptian background and the Disney design. Her sandals are supposed to be made of glass like in the Disney version.