By the hand, the white shrouded figure is led up to the scales of Maat. Jackal Headed Anubis brings forth the heart to be weighed and in the presence of the gods the Ba bird flutters above, awaiting its soul’s judgement. The feather of Truth is laid. The scale is set with exact precision and all is suspended in oppressive silence. The only sound to break the deathly hush is the drop of Ammit’s salivating jaw as she eagerly awaits her prey. Then with a clank, the heavy heart pulls down the scales with the weight of its evil, leaving the airy feather floating for all to see. It is done. The judgement has been passed and with a half starved snarl Ammit grabs what is rightfully hers. The evil heart, soul and Ba bird; all are devoured.
Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead- With a contemporary twist
I spent a day with Windmill Primary School’s fantastic Yr 6’s who created some superb Ancient Egyptian art with a modern twist. Do have a closer look at who the white shrouded figure being led by the jackal headed Anubis actually is. A leader famous for cruelty, death and genocide.
Ancient Egyptian mythology provides superb opportunities for storytelling
I story told the myth of Isis and Osiris to the children and then we discussed Hunefer ‘s famous papyrus scroll commonly called Hunefer ‘s Book of the Dead. (NB this is a colour enhanced version, to see it in original click here)
Here is my fantastic interactive version https://www.thinglink.com/scene/478359226985480193
The Art Work
The children were each asked to draw, paint and then cut out a figure, either individually or in pairs. I showed them how to draw an Egyptian figure using the Ancient Egyptian Canon. All the figures and elements in the scroll were measured according to this formula which kept everything in proportion. Below is the enthroned Isis, Lord of the Underworld, who will pronounce the final judgement over the soul of the deceased. This heart weighed more then the feather of Truth so the demon Ammit will consume it and the soul will not attain immortal life.
The All Seeing Eye of Atum
There is an intriguing creation story of the all seeing eye. It begins with the dark, swirling, chaotic mass of Nu before Creation was made. From Nu arose Atum, and he was alone. He created a hill named Ben Ben, upon which he could stand and with his shadow he created a son and a daughter. Atum spat out his son Shu, god of air and his daughter he coughed out, she was Tefnut the goddess of moisture.
Tefnut and Shu had two children. The sky goddess Nut whose star studded body arches across the sky and gives birth to the sun every day. The other child was Geb the god of the earth and growing things. Nut and Geb always wish to be together but Shu keeps them apart so that creation can exist between them.
Once, Atum lost his children Shu and Tefnut in the chaos of Nu and was frantically looking for them. He sent his ‘all seeing eye’ around Creation to look for Shu and Tefnut and eventually the eye found them and brought them back to their desperate father. He was overjoyed and cried tears of happiness. It is from these tears of joy that the first humans were created.
Children created the All Seeing Eye or Eye of Horus
Having story told several myths relating to the ‘all seeing eye’, I asked the children to look at their own eye in a mirror. The concentration was almost tangible as I talked them through observing the light, shadows, reflections and shapes in their eyes. After this observation they then began to draw the outlined shape of their eye on A3 paper and worked on observing and drawing the detail. The last step was to turn it into the eye of Horus.
The Eye of Horus
Horus is the son of Osiris who was brutally murdered by his jealous and evil brother Seth. Horus wishes to avenge his father’s murder and reclaim the throne of Egypt from his evil uncle, so he challenges Seth. An eighty year long battle ensues and in one particularly difficult fight Seth gauges out Horus ‘s left eye and breaks it into six tiny pieces. However with the help of his mother Isis and Thoth the god of medicine, the eye is restored and returned to Horus who gives it as a gift to his father Osiris. Although the eye is restored, it never regains it’s original brightness and thus represents the moon and is a symbol of protection against evil, of rebirth, regeneration and healing.
- http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/eyeofhorusandre.htm More about the eye of Horus.
- http://www.sacred-texts.com/egy/ael/ael11.htm Adult translation of the texts relating the battles between Set/Seth and Horus.
- http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/gods/home.html More about ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses-for kids.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTy49JlgJZE Ancient Egyptian Creations Myth made simple.
- http://www.landofpyramids.org/index.htm Amazing website full of accessible interesting information about ancient Egyptian gods, myths, symbols etc.
- http://www.childrensuniversity.manchester.ac.uk/interactives/history/egypt/egyptiangod/ Another interactive website with facts for children about everything ancient Egyptian.
- http://www.egyptianmyths.net/udjat.htm Very informative site.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntnBuQAvFjA Listen to this musician’s interpretation of ancient Egyptian music-he actually sings in ancient Egyptian!!!
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OipmPbe1ezs Funny Horrible Histories video about the different Egyptian gods especially Ammit the devourer.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBGVcnFAmrg Animation of Seth’s killing of his brother Osiris.
- http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/egyptians/ BBC kids learning-Ancient Egyptians.