Art General, Culture and Religion, Flight of Horace, illustration, People and Blogs, Uncategorized
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Ani y Catrina – Acrylic ink on papyrus (all rights reserved Mohammed Shamma)

I painted this piece for #Inktober and Dia de Los Muertos. I had originally wanted to call this the Book of the Dead meets the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) but that seemed like a mouthful.  And as I worked on it, I began to feel like the piece was more than just a mashup of the two traditions.

In this scene, Ani (a nobleman from Egypt in the 19th Dynasty – 1250 BCE) is escorting Catrina (see La Calavera Catrina) to the weighing of her heart.  The god Anubis presides over the scale that measures the weight of her heart to that of a feather.

The hieroglyphic text comes from Spell 30b of the Book of the Dead.  The most famous version of the Book of the Dead is The Papyrus of Ani (British Museum, London).  Here is the English translation:

O my heart of my mother! O my heart of my mother! O my heart of my different forms! Do not stand up as a witness against me, do not be opposed to me in the tribunal, do not be hostile to me in the presence of the Keeper of the Balance, for you are my ka which was in my body, the protector who made my members hale. Go forth to the happy place whereto we speed, do not make my name stink to the Entourage who make men. Do not tell lies about me in the present of the god. It is indeed well that you should hear!
                  — Book of the Dead, spell 30B

Here is a partial Spanish translation (of the English translation) which I used in the painting:

Oh Osiris, el escriba Ani dice: “Mi corazón, corazón de mi madre. Mi corazón, el corazón de mi madre, corazón de mi existencia!. No puede incurrir en ninguna resistencia sobre mí en mi juicio.”

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Ani y Catrina workspace (for perspective)

 

Ani y Catrina

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Art General, Culture and Religion, Flight of Horace, illustration, Watercolor

birdcatchers-daughter

I found my lover in the dawn
Birds chirped as his words flew to me
“Good morning my lovely”
My spirits lifted with the light of the sun
I touched his face and he came alive
“Where are you going today?”
I held him entirely in my hand
“Let’s wander the world together.”
The dove inside me spoke softly
“I’m going to a wonderful place,
Where my heart will be more than happy”
I’m going to be with you.

 

I was inspired by the poem of the Birdcatcher’s Daughter from the New Kingdom poem (or song) found in the Papyrus Harris 500.  A great source for the Egyptian text of this poem and many others is Love Songs of the New Kingdom and  The Literature of Ancient Egypt.

The Birdcatcher’s Daughter

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Art General, Culture and Religion, Museum Collections

My free copy of this totally awesome children’s book has arrived.  Historium, by Richard Wilkinson and Jo Nelson (Big Picture Press link), brings the museum right to your lap at any hour of the day.  It’s filled with illustrations that truly make the reader feel as if they are standing right in front of the glass case housing the objects.

I was already a fan of their previous books Animalium and Maps before they approached me.  Big thanks guys.  I’m very honored to be part of this cool project!

Historium

My photo on Flickr
Frieze of Archers
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Historium arrived! Thanks Templar Publishing

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Architecture and Urban Planning, Culture and Religion, Urban Sketching

So my local SF Bay Area Urban Sketchers group met up at the Cathedral of Christ the Light (Lake Merritt – Oakland, CA) on May 1st.  I’m not a practicing Muslim, but I couldn’t help but think, “this should be interesting.”  Let’s face it when you’re looking for stunning works of religious architecture in the US, it’s not going to be a mosque.  But who knows what’s in store for future generations?  Perhaps our children or their children will be sketching in spaces where architecture and spirituality come together in ways that are beyond our imagination.  All that aside, I have to say that I found myself in peaceful bliss as I sketched the body of Jesus as I sat in the pews of the Cathedral of Christ the Light.  The moment made me pause and wonder why my mother left Christianity and chose Islam when I was a child.  In the midst of my feelings of bliss and spiritual thoughts, I found myself awkwardly looking up at the image of Christ.  I realized I was sitting in a spot that none of the other sketchers chose.  Perhaps because the perspective felt awkward, a little like an IMAX film.  But I didn’t want to move.  I wanted to try and make it work.  I remembered that I saw a couple of other sketchers turn their sketchbooks at a 45 degree angle so that they could capture the as much of the horizontal and vertical views as possible.  Here’s my attempt.

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Mohammed sketching Jesus

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