Isis Across Cultures

Redrawing something I did over a year ago…

Isis Across Cultures V2

This is a split portrait of the goddess Isis (or Auset) as she would have been seen in the different cultures that venerated her. On the left is the original Egyptian and Kushite portrayal or her, whereas on the right is the version the Greeks and Romans adopted after incorporating Egypt into their empires. In both cases, the goddess would have been represented in the image of her human disciples. It’s a bit like how Jesus’s appearance in art changes from Middle Eastern to European, African, etc. depending on the culture depicting him.

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The Violence of Sekhmet

The Violence of Sekhmet

Sekhmet, the Egyptian goddess of war and violence, is on another one of her bloodthirsty rampages. Apparently she was so fond of the taste of blood that the sun god Ra, in order to restrain her, got her drunk with beer dyed red to look like blood. Ironically, however, she also had healing as another one of her aspects, so she must have been more than a one-dimensional killer.

Goddesses of Love

Goddesses of Love

These three goddesses are the Greek Aphrodite, the Egyptian Hathor, and the Norse Freya. Each of them had love and fertility as part of their domains in their respective cultures. Also, this gave me an opportunity to draw a trio of women from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
UPDATE:
Goddesses of Love - Colors
My three goddesses of love—the Greek Aphrodite, the Egyptian Hathor, and the Norse Freya—now have some color for further beautification!
Picking Aphrodite’s skin tone was a bit tough as I wanted her to have a tawny Mediterranean complexion, but adding highlights made it seem paler than it was supposed to be. Also, I added a Norse valknut symbol to Freya’s cheek partly to indicate her Norse identity, but also because I think “tribal” face paint looks good on ancient Northern Europeans.

O Mighty Isis

O Mighty IsisIsis, the mighty Egyptian goddess, ascends to the sky to cast another one of her magical spells. Will she bless someone who needs her help, or rain destruction upon her enemies?

I wanted her pose to look like a comic-book superhero this time. In fact, there was a superhero character based on Isis who got her own show in the 1970’s and eventually became part of the DC Comics continuity. Unfortunately (but also predictably), they had to cast a European-American woman to play this African goddess.

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.

Ma’at the Goddess of Justice

Ma'at the Goddess of Justice

In the ancient Egyptian worldview, Ma’at was a concept representing truth, justice, and order in the universe. It formed the basis of morality that every Egyptian citizen had to follow and every Pharaoh had to uphold. Sometimes the Egyptians would represent Ma’at as a goddess wearing an ostrich feather under her headband. This feather was a symbol of truth against which the hearts of the dead would be weighed on a scale; only if the heart weighed less than the feather could the dead enter the afterlife.