The Alphabet of Wilderness
The High Rules of Hieroglyphs
In this episode, we crack the code of some old and untold mysteries fromthe splendid empire that was ancient Egypt. In short, we sail beyond theshore to explore the core that made the Egyptians adore nature and turnit into a signature, carved on the cliffs, as hieroglyphs, that are rifewith wildlife.
The kingdom of Ancient Egypt rose on the rudiments of much older kingdoms:“the animal kingdom and the plant kingdom.”
To the unsuspecting eyes, the colossal cobra brightening the face of the pharaoh is merely a mirror of art. But is it? The cobra is an articleof faith and fear, offering a relief beyond belief. The uraeus, as we Egyptologists call it, is inspired by one of the most feared and fearsomeanimals on earth. Evidence gleaned from the treasured tombs, and toweringtemples reveal that the ancient Egyptians were adept at harnessing nature,and their art is a sanctioned signature. The habit of harnessing thehabitat was uninhibited among the inhabitants of the Nile valley. The Ancient Egyptians were well versed in the way the surrounding animals couldconverse. Simply put, they practiced zoology before the field, and the namewere invented. Some of the animals and plants carefully observed served inthe palace of the pharaoh. We call them gods. However, for the ancientEgyptians, they are powers that can be channeled and tamed at the sametime. Take the example of the crocodile who delivered the pharaoh from theway of harm to a wave of harmony. Once the great king of Egypt, the lord ofthe two lands, was chased by his own bloodhound. Towards the end of thechase and at the edge of the Great Lake of Fayoum, life begins at the edge. At that point, a crocodile offered his back and saved the pharaoh.
This is the moment we codify as nature defied nature and a crocodile wasdefined or rather deified.
Ever since the pharaoh was salvaged, hespearheaded an effort to make El Fayoum bloom. Or take the example of theEgyptians sailing in peace surrounded by hippos, yet they joke and happilytalk. The lesson learned from such exemplary cases is that the ancientEgyptians not only communicated with their ambient animals but also ledthem to accomplish their vision. No pun intended as the cobra comes intothe picture. Now picture a pharaoh wearing and swearing by a cobra. Thanksto the stage managers of the past who managed to protect and project thepharaoh’s image to great effect. Now imagine a generation of ingeniouspriests, devoted to ophiology, the study of snakes. We could see how thelife of the king tends to depend on the message we send to the cobra to bendand defend the majestic land of Egypt. The magic touch of the Nile can turn the savage Sahara into apiece of paradise. It turns its back, and a whole city is sacked. That iswhy the Egyptians had to figure out a method to foresee the ferociousbehavior of this metaphor form of a snake, the Nile. They had to know whenthe Nile was about to flood and bring the silt for the mud and thelifeblood. Otherwise, they would have been nipped in the bud. The Egyptianshad a clue, it came out of the blue, and it was true. The rise of Siriusalerted the Egyptians to the advent of the flood. The rise of Sirius was aserious business in ancient Egypt. The priests, having secured the sourceof their force, as it runs its course, they can go back to businessas usual, observation. Observation has become the hallmark of the priests.Consider their unique uniforms. I can see a high priest reckoning time usinga clepsydra, a water clock, to unlock the mysteries of astronomy. He iswearing a leopard skin, that is akin to the celestial spots, that he istempted and attempting to spot on the spot, with the help of the water pot.The water is seeping through a small hole in the bottom of the clock. Inthe process, the intermittent flow of the water makes a light laudableaudible, rhythmic tap, a tick. That was the first tick in history, thedescription of which gained the admiration of timeless science and technology pioneer Ahmed Zewail. Curiosity-driven quest for knowledge made the Egyptians click.
From the earth-shattering earthly example of a cobra, that is 10 feet, 20pounds, and 20 years,we soar to the celestial soul of Egypt. Take the example of the avianmaster, a vulture.What kind of cult or culture a vulture could cultivate to motivate the lifeof Egyptians.The value of the vulture as it vaulted to preeminence is partly a firm gripon the firmament. Furthermore, there is the overarching and overreachingatmosphere of utmost fear it maintains and can only pertain to the realm ofthe pharaoh. Vultures feed on carrions, the victims of victory.
Wherever you look in Egyptian antiquity, the shrewd Egyptians wereattempting to tame and preserve the wildlife in so far as they built intothe orderly cosmos of their hieroglyphs.With shrewd common sense and acumen they reached the acme. Now, considerthe iconography of the throne. The lion part of the throne is not fornothing.
“Should you see the teeth of a lion within, do not mistake it for a grin.”
In the final analysis, if you are not smitten with the pharaoh, you mightbe smitten with a mace head or bitten by the Egyptian cobra, the second-largest cobra in the African continent.You may not believe it, but the Egyptians had found a profound path withthe right rapid math to integrate a great empire. It is a simple concept they had at the onset.It lies in the ability to create a harmonious monument at the grandest andmost minuscule scales. It is a hieroglyphic order.
For a while, the ancient Egyptians lived in a divided land and landdivided cannot stand. Upper Egypt was the land of lotus. Lower Egypt wasthe land of papyrus. Around 3000 BC, King Menes united the two landsforming the United States of Lotus and Papyrus.
From womb to tomb, the ancient Egyptians were not obsessing about death,doom, and gloom. The graves are graced with scenes jumping with life andbloom. The Egyptian word for a ceremonial monument of death is not a tomb,but rather a house of eternity. There is in the reception hall a happyhappening, a hippopotamus attacking a crocodile, then a crocodile attackinga hippopotamus, what goes around comes around. Let not such a sorry storymake you worry. The ancient Egyptians made a deal with the most monstrousanimals for the sake of peace and harmony. There is more than I can say, butbalance is the grammar behind the glamour of Egyptian art.
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