Gorilla Pharaoh

gorilla pharaoh

Since ancient Egyptian culture and gorillas are both native to the continent of Africa…why not combine the two?

Who knows, he could be a Pharaoh’s pet who was brought to Egypt from the Congo. Though in that case, maybe he’s a bit homesick deep inside? 😦




Despite not drawing them often, I’ve always had a small affectionate spot for gorillas. They’re our second-closest relatives after chimpanzees and bonobos, yet are said to have gentler temperaments. They are still quite intelligent animals though, and some have even been taught sign language. Anyway, the ruined obelisk behind him is supposed to commemorate a queen from some (heretofore undiscovered) ancient civilization in the Congo jungles, a bit like the lost city of Zinj from Michael Crichton’s Congo.

The Reth and the Hippo

The Reth and the Hippo

Next in our art series of African queens with animals, we have a Reth (ruler) of the Shilluk kingdom in South Sudan leaning against a hippopotamus. The history of the Shilluk kingdom goes back to the 15th century, but so far they’ve had only one female Reth, a woman by the name of Abudok who had taken the throne because her brothers were very young. Because of her gender, she wasn’t very popular with her subjects and ended up leaving the throne to her brother Dhokoth. As for the hippo, I felt it was a fitting animal for a South Sudanese queen since much of the country is covered by wetlands adjacent to the Upper Nile.

The Mambokadzi and the Kudu

The Mambokadzi and the Kudu

The woman here would be a Mambokadzi, or Queen, of the Great Zimbabwe civilization which spread over much of southeastern Africa, including not only the modern nation of Zimbabwe but also areas of Botswana, Mozambique, and Zambia. They would have most probably spoken the Shona language, from which I got the term “Mambokadzi” (with the help of an online translator, I must admit). As for the antelope she’s riding, it would be a greater kudu which is also endemic to the southern African region.

The Qasa and the Buffalo

The Qasa and the Buffalo

Next in our series of African queens with pet wildlife, we have here a Qasa (Empress) of Mali, the great empire that once dominated much of West Africa, standing with an African buffalo.

Legend has it that the mother of Sundiata Keita, the conquering hero who founded Mali, was called the “buffalo woman” by virtue of her being hunchbacked and being widely perceived as ugly. Of course, the Qasa depicted here would be a totally different character.

The Kentake and the Ibex

The Kentake and the Ibex

A Kentake (Queen) of Kush stands with a Nubian ibex brought down from the hilly lands to her kingdom’s east. As its name might imply, the Nubian ibex is native to the desert hills of Sudan and Egypt, although it is also found in Arabia and adjacent areas of the Middle East.
After doing my Egyptian Pharaoh with her pet oryx, I thought it only fair to follow it up with a queen from the other major kingdom along the Nile, namely Kush, together with another animal native to northeastern Africa.

The Pharaoh and the Oryx

The Pharaoh and the Oryx

This Egyptian Pharaoh is resting beside her pet scimitar-horned oryx. The scimitar oryx is an antelope of the oryx genus that is considered extinct in the wild today, but used to roam the deserts of northern Africa and was known to the ancient Egyptians. Its markings appear browner and less contrasting than the other oryx species, such as the Arabian, East African, and southern gemsbok ones.

A few weeks ago, my therapist suggested that I draw more “safari animals” to go with all the African characters I draw. I think he has a good point. I particularly fancy the idea of drawing African wildlife alongside Egyptians since Egypt being a civilization native to the continent of Africa is a big theme of my work (in case you haven’t noticed already).

The First Lion

The First LionIt may look like a big leopard, but this is my reconstruction of how the earliest lions (Panthera leo) would have looked when their species evolved in Africa during the Pliocene epoch (5.3 to 2.6 million years ago). We know from recent genetic research that, among the big cats, lions are most closely related to leopards (Panthera pardus) and then jaguars (Panthera onca), so it seems reasonable to assume that the first lions would have also inherited a spotted coat from a common ancestor with those other species. Even today, lion cubs have faint leopard-like spots that fade away as they grow up.

The scruffy mane on this ancestral lion’s neck is only my own artistic speculation, but I wanted to get the point across that this animal was still of the leonine lineage.

Hunting Partners

Hunting Partners

Some hunters like to bring dogs with them to help with tracking and chasing down their quarry. This Egyptian huntress, on the other hand, is more of a cat person. A BIG cat person, to be exact.

I drew the lioness on a separate piece of paper from her human counterpart before I combined them into one file using Photoshop. Thank Adobe for the wondrous power of layer masks!

UPDATE 2/9/18

Hunting Partners

Added some colors and a background, as well as fixing the huntress’s crouching pose.

Crocodile Along the Nile

Crocodile By the Nile

A crocodile of the species Crocodylus suchus warms itself up on the dark silty floodplains along the Nile River in Egypt. Originally thought to belong to the Nile crocodile species (Crocodylus niloticus), the crocodile that were venerated and even mummified by the ancient Egyptians are now recognized as their own, separate species that is also found across West and Central Africa today.

I should draw crocodilians much more often, as they are fierce and quite magnificent predators.