Flight of Horace, illustration, Uncategorized

Song of the Harper (Remix)

Song of the Harper (Remix)

Song of the Harper (Remix) – by Mohammed Shamma – India and acrylic ink on paper – October 10, 2016

Have you ever loved a song or poem so much that you wanted to be buried with it.  The Song of the Harper was exactly that for ancient Egyptians.  I have to admit, I was moved by it when I read the version that was written on Inerkhau’s tomb at Deir el-Medineh.

The waters flow north, the wind blows south,
and each man goes to his hour.
So, seize the day! Hold holiday!
Be unwearied, unceasing, alive,
you and your own true love;
Let not your heart be troubled
during your sojourn on earth,
but seize the day as it passes!

When I read that passage (full text available here) I immediately wanted to incorporate it into an illustration with a contemporary twist.  I decided to change up the subject first.  I’m a fan of standing poses, so I chose one of the musicians from Amenemhat’s Tomb.

الخوخه el-Khôkha

(Flickr photo by risotto al caviale) الخوخه el-Khôkha

I also wanted to incorporate the original hieroglyphs from the wall of Inherkhau’s tomb as seen below.  Unfortunately the song lyrics in the photo (on the left) are incomplete.

Tomb of Inherkau TT359 Pano

(Flickr photo by kairoinfo4u) Tomb of Inherkau TT359

The site OsirisNet.net (thanks to everyone listed here) has a very detailed description of the tomb along with panorama photos of the inside of the tomb.  The site also provides a transcribed copy of the text from Bernard Bruyere the French Egyptologist who published the first excavation of the site in 1927.

Now that I had the original text and English translation, I could begin work on finding the text corresponding to the English version above.  Full disclosure here, my wife is a trained Egyptologist, so I was able to get her help in isolating the correct text.

Once I had the text, it was a simple matter of layout.  I chose to place the hieroglyphs on the outside columns of the illustration and then add my own “remix” of the text (just as I did the musician) around him.

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People and Blogs

Me in Maamourah - 1982

An excerpt from my latest blog post for the Beacon Broadside (courtesy of Beacon Press), an online venue for essays, news items, and dispatches from respected writers, thinkers, and activists about our times.

“The last time Ramadan and the World Cup crossed paths was in 1986 and 1982 respectively. I’ll never forget the summer of 1982. I was in Egypt, visiting my father’s family on a much-delayed bereavement trip. My father had died of cardiac arrest in October of 1981. We buried him in a Muslim cemetery in Houston, Texas and had to wait eight months before we could visit our relatives in Cairo. Those eight months were tough on me, a nine-year-old boy who just lost his father, soccer coach, and mentor.”

(Read more at BeaconBroadside.com)

Healing in Ramadan

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Watercolor

Bibliotheca Alexandrina

 

Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria Library)  

Watercolor on Paper

Original photo taken by Amr Nabil (Associated Press)

Photo source (here)

 

Bibliotheca Alexandrina

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Flight of Horace

FOH_p2

Creative Commons License
Flight of Horace by Mohammed Shamma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at flightofhorace.com.

My story begins when I stood upon that bridge and gave in to deception.
Desire for immortality outbid any veneration I had for the past and future.
A single leap of faith would rid me of my fleshy pain.
I would pass over that Golden Gate parting ways with sin and sorrow.
With open arms, I would greet eternity.
Yet my soul was displeased with me and had other plans.

On this page, Horace, the narrator, is taking the reader back to the moment when he chose to jump off the bridge. Horace’s soul (his ba) is shown as a bird hovering next to him.  See “ba” reference on this page for more information on the ancient Egyptian concept of the soul. The onlookers are based on the mourners painted on the walls of the Tomb of Ramose.

A Single Leap of Faith

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Flight of Horace

I’ve recently redesigned this page the give it a more Egyptian “Book of the Dead” look and feel and less like that of a comic book.  Some of these elements include the landscape format, text and page framing with bold black lines and text panels that have one side open onto the subject.

FOH_p1

Creative Commons License
Flight of Horace by Mohammed Shamma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at flightofhorace.com.

“Memory – it is the lifeblood of our fables and the progenitor of our conscience.  Was it born somewhere deep within the stars? Is it innate like the winged migration of birds or rhythmic like the fog covering the city at the day’s end? Where does memory go to die?”

Horace is narrating these words while seated in a typical scribe pose (as seen in the Tomb of Ti in Saqqara).  The stars on the left show the Orion constellation embedded into the commonly found star pattern on the ceilings of Egyptian tombs.  I drew the flying duck from the hunting scene on the walls of the Tomb of Nakht.  The fog clouds were based on various spiral patterns often scene in tombs of Tell el AmarnaTheban tombs and Saqqara

Memory is the Lifeblood of our Fables

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Flight of Horace

The sun approached me slowly, reaching out with warm rays of light. Misery took my hand and offered me as the child in loving embrace.

Creative Commons License
Flight of Horace by Mohammed Shamma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at flightofhorace.com.

I’m experimenting with the lettering by adding color to the hieroglyphs using “block” style justification.

In this scene, I’ve placed Horace in a “captive” pose (poses depicting foreign captives) found in the Theban Necropolis (18th Dynasty).  This one in particular, was sketched by E. Prisse d’Avennes (Drawing PL.II.3, Atlas of Egyptian Art).

The sun is based on the Aten, the deified solar disk which was Amenhotep IV’s (Akhenaten) inspiration for the establishing the first monotheistic religion.

Misery Took My Hand

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Flight of Horace

FOH - Sandbank Like a twig, I floated aimlessly until I felt the warmth of a sandbank and crawled upon the shore.  I opened my eyes and gazed at the blue sky and soft cotton clouds as if it was my first time.

Creative Commons License
Flight of Horace by Mohammed Shamma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at flightofhorace.com.

Horace’s pose in this scene is based on the earth god Geb in the Book of the Dead of Nesitanebtashru.

The acacia tree can be found in the “Netting Birds” scene painted on the walls of the Tomb of Khnumhotep (Beni Hasan, Middle Kingdom).  Painted by Nina de Garis Davies (1881–1965)

The flowers are California poppies styled in the manner commonly found in Egyptian monuments.  (Atlas of Egyptian Art, Zeitouna Press, 1991, Plate # 11.62, E. Prisse d’Avennes)

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The Warmth of a Sandbank

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