Wrath of Sekhmet

rage-of-sekhmet

Sekhmet, the Egyptian goddess of war, has just gone through a destructive rampage. One Egyptian story claims that the sun god Ra sent Sekhmet down to punish some mortals who conspired against him, but when her rampage went out of control to the point of nearly destroying humanity, Ra had to get her drunk with beer dyed red to look like blood. As would have befitted her role, Sekhmet had as her animal totem the lioness, which would have been among the most formidable predators known to the ancient Egyptians.

Rite of Bastet

rite-of-bastet

Bastet, the ancient Egyptian goddess of music, is perfectly at home performing this ritual dance. I wanted the background to look like a nighttime celebration, with the flames coming from something like a village bonfire. If this piece had a soundtrack, I imagine it would be intense and jubilant drumming.

Time for another art dump…

yoruba-princess

This would be a princess of the Yoruba, a people native to the West African country of Nigeria whose history may go back to the Nok culture around 1000 BC. They are the people who venerate the divinities known as Orishas, such as Shango and Oshun. Many of these divinities were associated with rivers and streams, so I gave her background and dress a watery color palette.
the-zulu-demeter
My portrait of the Zulu fertility goddess Mbaba Mwana Waresa, who presided over agriculture, rain and rainbows, and beer. She was said to live in a house made of rainbows up in the sky, and one story has her falling in love and marrying a mortal man in defiance of the other gods. Mbaba Mwana Waresa has been called the Zulu Demeter because of her similar niche in the Zulu belief system, and I put a pot on top of her head in reference to certain statues of her Greek analog (which also have her wearing some kind of bowl-like vessel).
the-new-stegosaurus
 Apparently Stegosaurus had a longer neck than we thought, or so I’ve been recently informed. It was time that I updated my portrayal of this iconic Jurassic dinosaur.
playfighting
I took an earlier sketch of two Tyrannosaurus rex play-fighting and gave it both a digital color job and a backdrop. The original sketch was modeled after a photo I saw of two young tigers engaging in the same playful behavior. I think of T. rex as essentially filling a tiger-style niche in its native Cretaceous ecosystem, so sometimes I like to give it tiger-like behaviors.
mistress-of-the-megantereon
I find prehistoric humans fun to draw because their attire and way of life leave so much more to the imagination than their counterparts from recorded history. It’s almost like you can design them any way you want.

This woman’s pet is not the Smilodon, but another saber-toothed cat called the Megantereon which originated in Africa around seven million years ago before spreading to Eurasia and the Americas. I don’t know for certain if there would have been any surviving populations of Megantereon in Africa by the time anatomically modern Homo sapiens showed up 200,000 years ago, but I wanted to give her a companion that was recognizably prehistoric.

And yes, there is some inspiration from the game Far Cry: Primal here. You can even pretend that she’s a remote African ancestor of Takkar the Beastmaster if you like.

Tanit of Carthage

tanit-of-carthage

My interpretation of Tanit, goddess of the heavens and fertility in the religion of ancient Carthage. I’ve seen conflicting accounts of her origin when looking her up, with some sources identifying her with an ancient Middle Eastern goddess named Anat and others claiming she was a native African goddess with a name of Berber origin. Of course, I went with the more African interpretation. Tanit’s hairstyle here was inspired by a few Nok sculptures from ancient Nigeria whereas her ultra-dark complexion is modeled after that of the Senegalese model Khoudia Diop.

Three Goddesses

Three Goddesses

This is a digitally inked and colored version of those three goddesses I doodled earlier. From left to right, the goddesses are Isis of Egypt, Athena of Greece, and Nuwa of China. Accompanying each goddess is a symbol of my own design, though each incorporates elements of iconography native to each culture. Isis’s symbol is based off an ankh, Nuwa on the Yin/Yang, and Athena on the so-called “Panhellenic Star” (the last being used as a symbol by the Greco-Macedonian forces under Alexander the Great).

Three Goddess Doodles

Three Goddess Sketches

Each of these pencil doodles depicts a goddess from a different culture’s mythology, each accompanied by a symbol of my own design. From left to right, they are Isis from Egypt, Athena from Greece, and Nuwa from China. Although most people have heard of Isis and Athena, Nuwa isn’t so well-known, but in Chinese mythology she was the goddess who created human beings (hence why I labeled her a “goddess of creation” in my doodle).

One of the challenges when drawing these doodles was giving each goddess a skin tone that was distinct from the rest. They’re all supposed to be “women of color” with darker skin than northern Europeans, but their exact shades of color differ between them. Isis, as an African goddess, should of course be the darkest of the bunch; Athena is supposed to be a Mediterranean tan; and Nuwa is supposed to have the light brown color of a southern Chinese (since I wanted her to be darker than the “pale geisha” stereotype). I think the difference in skin tone between them would appear more obvious if I were to digitally color this sometime.

Rejected Concept Art

Rejected Concept Art

These portraits would be unremarkable, except I drew them as concept art for the San Diego Game Jam of 2016. It’s an event where game design students get together into teams to make a little computer game over the course of 48 hours. My team chose to make their game about the growth of a cult, and we were going to let the player choose from three goddesses with distinct gameplay styles in the beginning: the Egyptian Isis, the Greek Athena, and a third goddess we never decided on.

In the end, that idea got scrapped because our leader wanted to do more abstract, fictional gods rather than drawing from historical mythologies. But he still liked the concept art I drew for Isis and Athena, and I didn’t want it to go to waste. So here it shall remain on the Internet for time immemorial.

In our initial game design, Isis was portrayed as a goddess of wisdom whose cult used peaceful methods to recruit followers, whereas Athena as a goddess of war had a more aggressive, martial approach. Of course in real mythology Athena was also a goddess of wisdom, but I thought she would stand out more in terms of gameplay if we emphasized her warlike tendencies while Isis got to be the pacifistic intellectual.

Neith the Hunting Goddess

Neith the Goddess

My portrayal of Neith, the ancient Egyptian goddess of hunting, warfare, and weaving. You could say she was the Egyptian counterpart to the Greek Athena, and indeed some scholars such as Martin Bernal have hypothesized that the Greeks god the idea of Athena from Neith.

I drew this while installing the game Smite, wherein she is one of a number of gods you can play in a sort of mythological, multiplayer battle arena. It sounds like a fun concept, but I’m personally not a fan of how they depicted Neith and the other Egyptian gods. So here’s my alternative take on her.

Goddesses Gonna Slay It

Goddesses Gonna Slay It

The Egyptian goddesses Neith, Bastet, and Sekhmet are gonna slay it together!

That could be meant literally as well as figuratively. In Egyptian mythology, each of these goddesses could be portrayed as warriors and huntresses (although Bastet is perhaps better known as a patron of music and dance), so it would make sense for them to be BFFs (best friends forever). Maybe they could be hunting or fighting buddies.