Positive Progress Through The Benevolent Use Of Knowledge

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The New Age Pyramid

The Old Granary
Philip Coppens

“The New Pyramid Age” established that across the world, the pyramid shape came with its specific pyramid mythology, which in the book was linked with a “new age”, in which the fires of the previous era were put out, and new fires lit. This “new fire” ceremony normally involved the king or tribal leader performing various rituals that united this world with the “afterworld”, as well as proving his fitness to rule.


It was outside the scope of the book to query where this “pyramid template” developed from, though we did note that because of its worldwide nature, it would likely date back to the earliest origins of Mankind.
Despite not including it in the book, there are clear indications that the “pyramid template” developed from tribal shamanic lore. And for that, we turn to the Dogon and their creation mythology. Anthropologists Marcel Griaule’s visits and experiences with the Dogon were at the basis of Robert Temple’s “The Sirius Mystery” and its speculation that the Dogon possessed knowledge that was outside the “normal realm” of this Mali tribe, specifically focusing on the existence of a companion star to Sirius, namely Sirius B. But amidst all this – often unfounded – speculation, perhaps a more important lesson from the Dogon was missed: a likely explanation of how the concept of the pyramid was born, and what it represented.

In Griaule’s “Conversations with Ogotemmeli”, Griaule recounts his discussions with this Dogon elder, who was selected to explain to the anthropologist the world view of the Dogon. During a series of discussions, Ogotemmeli tackled the tribe’s creation myth, stating that the unformed universe was the Creator God Amma’s egg, and had known two creations: one visible, one invisible. As with the Egyptian creator deity Atum, the initial act was one of self-creation, with Amma forming a perfect twin, which the Dogon call the Nummo or Nommo.
As the complex story of creation unfolds, eight ancestors, who lived eternally, are introduced into the narrative. At one point, these ancestor deities saw the Earth, whereby Nummo decided he would try to redeem Mankind. All were concerned about the effect of contact between spiritual beings and ordinary beings; the consequences, it seems, were hard if not impossible to predict. Hence, the eight ancestors were taken to heaven with the Nummo to learn the skills of civilisation. Later, each was given one of the eight grains of heaven, with which they returned to live with men, civilising them. They thus became the “civilising deities”, the Dogon equivalent of the Apkallu, or Seven Sages.
Indeed, this legend has the same ingredients as many other legends – whether in surrounding African cultures, or further afield. And the story of the civilising deities that descended from heaven was, of course, the primary breeding ground for the Dogon ancient astronaut theory, which was argued in “The Sirius Mystery”.

Rather than speak of extraterrestrial beings amongst men, Ogotemmeli’s narration of Amma’s cult provided an insight into a shamanic, tribal expression of “the pyramid template”. One aspect of this creation myth speaks of “the granary”, a term that also lay at the foundation of another classic on ancient mythology, Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend’s “Hamlet’s Mill”.
“When the first ancestor came down from heaven, he was standing on a square piece of heaven shaped like the first granary. The first granary was shaped like a woven basket turned upside down. It was round at the bottom, square and flat at the top, with stairways with ten steps up the middle of each of the four sides, which faced the cardinal points. The door of the granary was a sixth step of the north side.”
Inside, there were eight chambers, divided over two levels of four chambers each. The compartments met in a cup-shaped depression in the earth, large enough to hold a round jar, which was seen as the centre of the whole construction. It was said that the granary, like the Earth, represented a woman lying on her back with her arms and legs spread – the jar symbolised her womb.

There are clear references to a pyramid here, whereby the ground plan is not yet square, but circular. Despite this non-conformance to the eventual “pyramid template”, all the ingredients of this template are nevertheless present.
Furthermore, in the Dogon mythology, the granary (or proto-pyramid) was already linked to astronomy. Ogotemmeli explained how the round base represented the sun. The square roof represented the sky. A circle in the centre of the roof represented the moon. The rise of each step was male; the tread was female. The combined total of forty steps represented the eighty offspring of the eight ancestors. Furthermore, the northern staircase, was linked with the Pleiades, men and fish; the southern staircase with Orion’s Belt, and domesticated animals; the eastern, with Venus and birds; the western, with the long-tailed star and animals, vegetables and insects.

The reference to the pyramid as a granary should also shed new light on what is related in the popular biblical story of Joseph, in which the pyramids are sometimes taken to be the granaries he built. The man responsible for launching this “theory” was Benjamin of Toledo, who was of the opinion that the Pharaoh had stored a great quantity of wheat inside, in case of famine. Though he was wrong in the literal sense, mythologically speaking, he may not have been far off the mark – and more on the mark than some more “scientific” theories.

The Dogon granary thus represented the new system of the world, the symbol of a new age. This concept of a “new age” is also at the core of the “pyramid template”. And it is where the connection with the pyramid template is confirmed, for with the Dogon, there are also specific references to “the New Fire Ceremony”.
Assembled on the flat roof of the granary were the tools of a forge: the hammer, the anvil, etc. It was said that there would be no grain to store without the fire of the smithy. Hence, we can wonder whether the Greek name “pyramid”, and its specific reference to fire, is another reminder of the symbolic meaning of the pyramid. Some of the early “pyramid experts” may have, by labelling them Houses of Fire or Granaries, known more than we would assume. And rather than be “historically wrong”, they may have been “mythologically right”.

The specific creation myth that Ogotemmeli related was the creation of the Third World – ours. It spoke of a celestial society that was heading for disorder (similar to the biblical Fall). The new generation of Nummo proceeded to break the paradigm and thereby overthrew their destiny.
God had given the eight ancestors a collection of eight different grains intended for their food. Of the eight, the last grain was Digitaria, which had been publicly rejected by the fist ancestor when it was given to him, on the pretext that it was so small and so difficult to prepare. There came, however, a period when all the grains had been nearly exhausted except the last. (Should we see references here to a great famine, such as those involving the biblical Joseph?) When they ate that food, despite having taken oaths not to, it was the confirmation of the breach of the order – similar to the eating of the apple of the biblical story of the Garden of Eden. The two ancestors became unclean – Adam and Eve fell.
They therefore had to quit the heavenly region, as they were unclean, and the other ancestors decided to join them. The first ancestor too began to make preparations for his own departure – perhaps references to that biblical archangel Lucifer?

Some anthropologists have argued that sections of the Dogon mythology are a collection of various mythologies, and that some aspects were influenced by Griaule himself. Which specific details stem from where, is hard to identify, more than half a century after they were recorded. Furthermore, mythology constantly evolves, and adapts. But at its core, it retains a basic message, which is universal and everlasting; it is why the story of Jesus overlaps with that of Osiris and Odin, and other deities, as well as modern oeuvres such as the character Neo in the film The Matrix, or Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.

What the “pyramid template” is able to offer, is a common framework that explains why pyramids were constructed and for what they were used. What the Dogon creation myth is able to show, is that this pyramid template did not develop out of nothing, but was itself a “new phase” in an older design, which nevertheless contained the same basic ingredients. The “old granary” was a pyramid for those cultures who had not yet, or would never make, the step into a Pyramid Age.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Kemetic Children of the Sun: Afrikan King T'ang of China

Kemetic Sankofa writes......

King T'ang is the oldest documented ruler of China. African descent.

-"Kemetic Chilren Of The Sun"-
It appears that the entire continent of Asia was originally the home of many black races. They were the pioneers of in establishing, the civilization that has flourished through-out this vast region.
Reports of major kingdoms ruled by blacks are frequent in chinese documents.
The Anu are the same people who occupied Egypt thousands of years. It is recorded to have large migrations to the Asian continent. Taking thousands of years of Afro-Egyptian knowledge and influence.
Em- Hotep*
Know Thyself

The first dynasty founded by King Tang or Ta, the earliest documented rulers of China was the Shang (or Chiang) Dynasty. (1500 - 1000 BCE) This dynasty was credited with bringing together the elements of China's earliest civilisation. Shang was given the name Nakhi (Na- black, Khi- man).

Under this black dynasty, the black Chinese established the basic forms of graceful calligraphy that has lasted to the present day. The first Chinese Emperor, the legendary Fu-Hsi (2953 - 2838 BC) was a woolly haired black man. He and his African brothers and sisters are credited with establishing a government originating from, social, cultural, institutions and scientific technological inventions. 2300 BCE, An African King rules Mesopotamia, King Patesi of Lagash, more generally known as Gudea.

There is strong evidence to suggest that there is an African element in the Japanese population, particularly the population of south Japan. The African element in Japan is clearly recognisable by certain inhabitants with dark and often blackish skin, wide flat nose and frizzy to curly hair. African racial type skulls have been found in the island of Formosa and traces of this African element in the island of Liu-Kiu to the south of Japan, Les-Negritos Dela Chine. Batchelor points out, in his book Ainu Lite and Core, that 'the oldest known inhabitants of Japan are the 'Ainus'.

Significant too, is the fact that Ainu traditions tell of a race of dwarfs or Koropokquiri, inhabited Japan before the coming of the Ainu. The original Ainu are black people, and their beliefs and rituals correspond to those of ancient Egypt (Book sign and symbols or primordial man). There is mention of black military commander Sakanouya Tamuramaro, in the very early stages of Japanese history. (Runoko Rashidi, 'Presence in Asian Antiquity, Nile Valley Civilisation. According to a Japanese proverb: 'For a Samurai to be brave, he must have a bit of black blood: Cheikh Anti Diop 'Origin of Civilisation' (Myth of Reality).

In year 2004 AD, scientists have found skeletons of a hobbit-like species of human that grew no larger than a three-year-old modern child. The tiny humans, who had skulls about the size of grapefruits, lived with pygmy elephants and Komodo dragons on a remote island in Indonesia 18,000 years ago.

Australian and Indonesian researchers discovered bones of the miniature humans in a cave on Flores, an island east of Bali and midway between Asia and Australia.Scientists have determined that the first skeleton they found belongs to a species of human completely new to science. Named Homo floresiensis, after the island on which it was found. Are the Koropokquiri The Hobbit Homo Floresiesis?

Know Thyself
Kemetic Children Of The Sun*

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

First Queens of Africa

Spirit of Sankofa writes........

This is one of the rare opportunities to post information not commonly known.
Often times, when we hear of queens of Africa, only a few comes to mind. Cleopatra, Nefertiti, Hatshephat and maybe Nefartari.
Their bloodline was important to show their right to heritage. Which is a matter of importance to any culture of people today.
Know Thyself

The First Queens

Predynastic Period: No name known.

1st Dynasty: Nithotep, Bener-ib, Herneith, Merneith, Betrest.

2nd Dynasty: Nemaathap.

These names to us are not more than names indicating that once there was a woman behind it. Nothing of their personal life or belongings, except for Merneith, has come down to us, an no knowledge is availabe of how they lived, how their station i life was carried out, how many children they had or how long they lived. In most cases not even their tombs are left. Yet we know that they were of some importance as wifes to kings and rather likely they were also mothers to kings. Already at this early period, the bloodline was important to show the right to heritage of the kingship and descent on the female side was what counted. The naming of the Royal Mothers have helped to throw some light over the first dynasties though when it comes to individual lifes we are left to speculations, perhaps with the background knowledge from later periods of woman and her conditions in ancient Egypt.

1st Dynasty:

Nithotep (Neithotep)
This is the name of the wife of King Aha or Narmer. Once a lady of importance - perhaps the first queen of a united Egypt to ever have come down through history. The name Nithotep is spelled in various ways: NeithHotep, N-th-t-p, Nithetep - all of them indicating Nit as the aim of the devotions.

Her tomb, originally thought to belong to the mythical Menes, but later acknowledged as belonging to the mother of Aha, was found at Naqada. There has been some speculations if she was from Lower Egypt, as indicated by the name, Nit being a deity from there, and married Narmer for political reasons. Nothing has been found to support this theory. As she most likely buried at Naqada, it might be that she originated from there and that Narmer married her to secure an alliance with this important location in Upper Egypt.

All we know of this lady is that on the Cairo Annals Stone*, she is said to be the mother of Djer.

The form of the name Bener-ib is somewhat uncertain but a fragment of ivory from a box links her with King Aha, the first king of the 1st Dynasty, c 3100 BC. That is all we know about her.

Herneith stands out a little due to her immense tomb at Saqqara, which show some special architectural features. Also, differing from other royal and noble burials at this period, there were no sacrificial burials alongside of her. Only her dog was found lying across the threshold. It was of the same breed which later in history followed kings and leaders of Egypt. Herneith is believed to have been the wife of King Djer, c3000 BC.

Nakhtneith is only known form a stela from the funerary complex of Djer at Umm-el-Qaab.

MerNeith - First Female Ruler?

Queen MeritNit deserves a bit of attention. The spelling of her name varies; MerytNeith, MerNeith. She must have been a significant woman in Dynasty 1, c 2950 b.c., as she was given a funerary structure at the Royal funerary enclosure at Abedjou as well as funerary monument at Sakkara. She is also the very first woman in the history of ancient Egypt recorded as regent.

MeritNit or MerNeith, meaning Beloved of Nit , (Gr: Neith) was probably, though not proven, daughter to King Djer, the second king of the 1st Dynasty. She was also the Great Royal Wife ( that is queen, though that word does not exist in ancient Egyptian) of King Djet and the mother of King Den.

After the death of Djet, whose rule seems to have been short, it is believed that MeritNit reigned for a period while her son Den was too young.

The tomb of MeritNit was first excavated by William Petrie in 1900, who believed he had found the tomb of a king. Two large funerary stelae with the name of MeritNit (MerNeith) in raised relief, though not within a serekh were found nearby, and its structure corresponded to the other royal tombs in the enclosure. It consisted of a central burial chamber surrounded by eight store rooms. Around this structure over 40 subsidiary tombs were found. Many of those buried there seem to have been in her service, due to the content. Her shipmaker, her vasemaker and her artists were among those found here.

Though her name was first thought to be that of a king´s, it was later found engraved on a clay sealing in the tomb of Den as "King´s Mother MerNeit" (MwtNiswt). The seal states the kings from Narmer to Den and confirmes her status. It is somehow uncertain if she ruled in actual fact, since her name is not found on another clay seal listing of early rulers, which was found in the tomb of Qa´a, who reigned several kings later. The King´s Mother was an important position already in this early period, and brought a great deal of influence.

It was customary for the early dynastic rulers to have two funerary monuments, one for the actual tomb, the other one functioning as a cenotaph. MeritNit is sofar the only woman to have been commemorated in this way. At her funerary monument at Saqqara there were burials of various craftsmen intended to work for her in the Afterlife, as well as a solar boat to enable her to travel with the Sungod in the Afterlife. This last was normally exclusively the right of the King and it indicates that she may very well have been a regent or co-regent. At the least, she must have been a very influential and powerful woman.

Apart from this, evidence of MeritNit outside of Abydos is scarce except for at Saqqara. One explanation for this could be that all documents from her period of regency bore the name of the king, which in this case was her young son, Den. But there exists an unprovenanced alabaster cylinder vessel with her name in relief, and one small ivory vessel from Saqqara, also bearing her name. From same area are also three other named vessel fragments. Her name, MeritNit, meaning Beloved of Nit, indicates that she must have had some power in Lower Egypt, where the cult center of Nit was located at Sais. Here Nit was a deity of great importance ever since Predynastic times, with a dominant influence at court since several royal names from these periods are formed in combination with the deity´s.

Another name which is uncertain, though she is thought to have been the wife of King Anedjib, c 2925 BC., the next to last king of the 1st Dynasty, and the mother of King Semerkhet, with whom the 1st Dynasty ended.

Her names is on a stela from a tomb in the funerary complex of Den at Umm-el-Qaab.

Same thing here, Semat is only known from a stela in a tomb at the funerary complex of Den at Umm-el-Qaab.

Same thing again, known from a stela in a tomb at the funerary complex of Den at Umm-el-Qaab.

Batirytes is named on the Cairo Annals Stone as the mother of king Semerkhet.

2nd Dynasty: Nemaathap

Nemaathap is thought to be both the daughter and the wife of Khasekhemwy, c. 2686 BC. as she is named on several sealings from his funerary complex at Abydos and also from a tomb at Beit Khallaf. Titled 'Mother of the King´s Children', she was the mother of Djoser Netjerikhet in the 3rd Dynasty. A cult in her honor was still maintained during Sneferu and was referred to in the tomb of Metjen at Saqqara.

Cairo Annals Stone: Belongs to the collection of inscribed, stone fragments known as the royal annals and which is divided between museums in Palermo, Cairo and London.

Sources: Early Dynastic Egypt - Toby A.H. Wilkinson
Chronicles of The Pharaohs - Peter A. Clayton
Daughters of Isis - Joyce Tyldesley
Who´s Who in Ancient Egypt - Michael Rice
Aegypten, die Welt der Pharaonen - Stephan Seidlmeyer (article)

Historic Overview

This site is for educational purposes only.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Kemetic Artistry Egyptian Art & Jewelry

Spirit of Sankofa writes......

Kemetic Artistry - in jewelery and wall paintings, shows us that the color of Black isn't dark or dismal. Nor does it represent death, witch craft or is it evil.
On the contrary, Black carried the cannotation of "fertility" (rebirth) as well as "Regeneration".
In Kemetic Culture the ancient Egyptians viewed, Osiris as...."The Black One". In ancient KMT they would line graves with the color black in hopes to evoke Osiris regenerating qualities.
The color of a painting or wall drawing had great significance. In many cases it had a message behind it's artistry.
Many wall painting of Ancient Kemet clearly show the darkness of the skin of the Khemet people.

There is much more to find,
When we keep our nose to the grind!
Keep in search of truth!

Em-hotep= Welcome in Peace

Color in Egyptian Art and Jewelry

The Egyptians considered the color of an object to be an integral part of its nature or being. The word iwen was used to signify the concept of color, and could also mean external appearance, nature, being, character, or even disposition.

Not every color and variation has symbolic significance of course. When groups of objects were being depicted, colors were varied to distinguish one object from another. So rows of people or chariot horses may be alternated as light and dark. And color was often enjoyed for its own sake.

Names and uses of colors

Old Egyptian had four basic color terms:

km , or black, hence, Kmt, or "Black Land". The color black carried connotations of fertility and regeneration, and was also the color of the underworld, where the sun regenerated every night. The god Osiris , king of the Underworld, was sometimes referred to as kmj, "the black one." Black stones were used in statuary, and black backgrounds used in some coffins, to evoke those regenerative qualities of Osiris and the Underworld.

khdj , or white, was also used from prehistoric times. Chalk and gypsum provided the white pigment used.

White was associated with cleanliness, ritual purity and sacredness and so, was the color of the clothes worn by ritual priests. The Instructions of Merikare speaks of service as a priest in terms of the wearing of white sandals. The floors of temples were made of white calcite. White alabaster was used to make ritual objects such as small bowls to the massive embalming table of the Apis bulls mummification. Many sacred animals such as the Great White baboon were also of that color.

Khdj also meant the metal "silver" and could incorporate the notion of "light": for example, in some texts, the sun was said to "whiten" the land at dawn. White was also used to denote the metal silver, and with gold, then symbolized the moon and sun.

W3d , where the "3" actually stands for the "a" that is not our letter A, had its focus in "green", as the term for the mineral malachite. The color green was symbolic of growing things and of life itself. To do "green things" was a euphemism for positive life-producing behavior in contrast to doing "red things."

The hieroglyph that represented w3d was a green papyrus stem and frond, carrying connotations of fresh vegetation and vigor and regeneration. Osiris was often shown with green skin to signify his resurrection, and in the 26 th dynasty , coffin faces were often painted green to identify the deceased with Osiris and to guarantee rebirth. Chapters 159 and 160 of the Book of the Dead give instructions for making an amulet of green feldspar, (though a variety of materials, ranging in color from green to blue, were used) The common amulet of the "Eye of Horus" or the Wedjat is usually green because of the connotations as an expression of the aspects of healing and well-being. Wadjet was the green one, the protective serpent goddess of Lower Egypt (though the color of that royal crown was red.)

Turquoise, or mfk3t, was the most valued of the green stones. Mined in Sinai , it was connected to the deity Hathor , who was called Lady of Turquoise, and as well as to the sun at dawn, whose rays and disk were described as turquoise, and whose rising was said to flood the land with turquoise. Thus, turquoise was also associated with rebirth, and faience figurines in this color were often used in funerary equipment.

Although blue pigment appears on paintings, the Egyptian language had no basic color term in Old Egyptian for "blue." Blue, or irtiu and khshdj , could represent the heavens as well as the primeval flood, and in both it functioned as a symbol of life and rebirth. Blue could also represent the Nile and its offerings, crops and fertility. The phoenix, or benu-heron , an ancient symbol of the inundation, was often painted in bright blue (the actual bird had light gray-blue plumage.) The sacred baboon was also depicted as being blue.

Blue pigment was introduced at about 2550 BCE, based on grinding lapis lazuli, a deep blue stone flecked with golden impurities. Lapis lazuli was the blue stone that figures prominently in much jewelry, but could only be acquired by import. It was called khshdj , and the term was extended to also mean blue. The stone and the color were associated with the night sky and the primordial waters. The rising sun was sometimes called the "child of lapis lazuli."

Blue pigment could also was manufactured by combining oxides of copper and iron with silica and calcium.

dshr , meant "red", hence, "Deshret", the "Red Land", the name given to the desert areas on each side of the fertile Nile Valley. Red pigments were derived from naturally occurring oxidized iron and red ocher.

Red was considered a very potent color, hot and dangerous, but also life-giving and protective. It is both the color of blood, relating to life ad death, and of fire, which could be beneficial or destructive. Expressions such as dshr ib , "red of heart" or "furious" are formed from this basic word.

Red is also a color given to the sun, red at its rising and its setting. In papyrus texts, red pigments or "rubrics" were often used to emphasize headings, but also used to write the names of dangerous entities and unlucky days.

Royal statuary was often made of rose or golden quartzite and red granite, which were used to invoke the regenerative properties of the solar cycle and the connection between the kingship and the sun. The obelisk of Senussret at Heliopolis was made of red granite.

khenet , or yellow, was symbolic of all that is eternal and imperishable. Anubis , often shown with black skin as a jackal, when depicted as a jackal-headed human male, had a black head with gold limbs and torso.

The color yellow was often associated with the sun disk and with gold, or nbw . Gold was not only associated with the sun, it was also the flesh of the gods, and the divine snake in the Story of the Shipwrecked Sailor was also gold.

Color in Art

In paintings deities were not often colored to indicate gold flesh. Most male deities were represented with reddish-brown skin, and female with yellow skin. But other colors, as green and blue were indicated above for Osiris, were used. The fertility deities Min and Amun-Re-Kamutef were shown with black skin. Amun-Re was depicted as blue-skinned from the 18 th Dynasty onward, emphasizing his status at that time as king of the gods. The jackal that represented Anubis and Wepwawet was colored black, although most jackals were actually sandy-colored, to signify their funerary role and connection with the underworld.

Kings were often shown painted in different contexts with different colored skin. For example, the eleventh dynasty king Nebhepetre Montuhotep I was shown regularly with reddish-brown skin at his mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri . But one statue found ritually buried shows him with black skin to symbolize his renewal in the afterlife. In addition, some faces on nonroyal coffins during some periods were also painted black for the same reason. But the most common color for coffin faces, apart from natural red for males and yellow for females, was gold, linking the deceased with the sun god and showing the deceased successfully transformed into a divine being.

Certain colors were often set side by side as well, to signify completeness. For example, red and white, or its alternate hue yellow, find completion together in the colors of man and woman, and the red and white crowns. Green and black are also often used in the same way as the symbolic opposites of life and death.

Some colors were interchangeable. While hair was often shown as black, it was sometimes depicted as blue for the gods. However, they too could also be shown with black hair. The converse could also be true, as illustrated in the example where the god Anubis is shown as blue, as is the mummy. In the pectoral of Tut , Ptah is shown with black hair, the Blue Crown is colored black. In the same way, light blue and green could be interchanged. In that Tut pectoral, the god Ptah, often shown with green skin, is shown here as light-blue skinned.

The heavens may be colored black, though blue is more commonly used. Yellow gold, the color of sun and stars, could also represent the heavens, though its use for such is relatively rare. Black also represented Egypt itself, the fertile Nile soil, but the color green also signified earth as opposed to heaven or the sea.

Horemheb and Ramesses I both used a blue-gray background on the walls of their tombs, perhaps to represent the entrance of the deceased King into the underworld or the heavens. Since the underworld was described in some texts as the field of malachite (a green stone) green could also represent the underworld as well.

Earlier it was stated that male figures, whether divine or human, were given reddish-brown skin tones. Women were given yellow-gold skin tones. A poem from the Papyrus Chester Beatty I describes a female object of affection with "bright skin," arms more "brilliant than gold," and "white-breasted."

Since Egypt included people close to the Mediterranean as well as to sub-Sahara, its people showed many skin tones. But the men of Egypt had to be distinguished from non-Egyptians, from foreigners. Foreign peoples of different races were given appropriate skin colors by stylized characterizations. While Nubians and Kushite kings living to the south of Egypt were depicted as black in contrast to the red-brown skin hues of the Egyptian male, Libyans, Bedouin, Syrians and Hittites, living to the north, west, and closer to the Mediterranean were all shown with light yellow skin, as well as distinctive clothing and hair-styles.

Color in Hieroglyphics

Hieroglyphics illustrate the dual use of color, one, where objects are given the same hue they have in nature, and two, where objects are assigned colors to which they are symbolically linked. Each glyph had its own color or combination, which was faithfully kept whenever multiple colors were used. Sometimes difference in color was used to distinguish between two otherwise identical signs. Color was omitted in everyday writing, in order to save time or expense, but it was nevertheless viewed as a very real part of a complete sign.

Where the signs were not painted black or red, each sign received its own basic color or combination of colors. The colors assigned to the various signs are in most cases simply the colors of the objects themselves. So signs for leg, arm, hand, mouth, or other body parts, were usually in red, whereas reeds and other plants were green, water was blue, etc. Other objects had more symbolic coloration, for example, metal butcher knife was red, the sickle was green, and the bread loaf was blue.

The Painter’s Work

The paintings extant in the beautiful tomb of Nefertari are excellent examples of the symbolic and practical uses of color. After the outlines of the scenes were completed, color was applied with coarse brushes made from bundles of palm fibers, or pieces of fibrous wood chewed or beaten at one end.

Dry pigments were prepared by crushing various substances in a mortar or on a grinding palette with a stone pestle. These were then mixed with a water-soluble gum or egg white to bind them. Intermediate shades were derived by laying one pigment over another.

Many of the reliefs seen today in museums and even on the temple and tomb walls in Egypt itself have little of the tints originally placed upon them. But conservation is underway, and hopefully, as with Nefertari ’s tomb , the vibrancy of the Artist’s craft, part of the soul of ancient Egypt, will return.


From Symbol and Magic in Egyptian Art by Richard Wilkinson
From Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt

To learn about the earliest civilization is to learn about ourselves.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

HISTORY OF EASTER-when and how did easter begin?

Spirit of Sankofa writes...........

During this time of season, I oftened wondered if many fully understand the true origins of Easter. Also, the main reason why the egg as well as rabbits were incorporated as far as the day is celebrated. This day is celebrates the easter goddes at the spring equinox. (The goddess of spring). To describe what she represents are; the east, resurrection and rebirth.
The celebration alone would be labeled by the western world as pagan. The offering to the goddess was given during the vernal equinox. The ancient egyptians and other cultures, would take painted eggs, and place them at the grave site. This was a sign of rebirth.



When And How Did Easter Begin?

Whether you believe it or not Easter in the beginning was a pagan festival. During the spring, the Saxons celebrated the return of spring with a festival in which they commemorated their goddess of offspring of the springtime. This goddess was known as Ostara or Eostre. She was the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring, the East, Resurrection, and Rebirth. Our modern day Easter is derived from the name of Eostre and the celebrations that we join in are also associated with this pagan festival.

The Anglo-Saxons during the festival offered colored eggs to her at what was called the Vernal Equinox. They placed these multi-colored eggs at graves the Egyptians and Greeks were also known to place eggs at gravesites. This was a sign of re-birth. Through legends, the name of both Goddesses Ostara and Eostre played a part in the Easter that we know today. Eostre was said to have been a playful goddess that would rule over the earth beginning when the Sun King traveled across the sky in chariot marking the end of winter. Ostara came to earth after the Sun King rode and appeared as a beautiful maiden that carried with her a basket of colorful eggs. Ostara had a magical companion. A white rabbit that traveled with her to bring life back to dying plants and flowers and hiding colorful eggs in the fields.

There is one myth centered on Ostara that proclaims that she found a bird that was dying of the cold weather and she changed the bird into a rabbit so it would stay warm. Legend has it this is where the Easter bunny originated, but it also could have been from the magical companion of Ostara that traveled with her on her journey to bring life back to the earth.
When the Christian missionaries encountered the various tribes with their own beliefs and attempted to convert them to Christianity, they did so in a manner not to disturb their celebrations. If the Christians had tried to stop all pagan celebrations, it would have been certain death. To spread their Christian beliefs, they decided to allow them to celebrate their pagan festival in a somewhat Christian manner. Since, their pagan spring festival was during the same time that the Christians observed the Resurrection of Christ; it was easier to change this into a Christian celebration. The people were won over through time and endurance.
Easter, prior to A.D. 325 was celebrated on different days of the week. However, during the year of 325 AD, the council of the Nicaea issued the Easter Rule, which proclaims that Easter will be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon or after the vernal equinox. In essence, Easter must be celebrated on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25. Easter was not celebrated in America until after the Civil War.

Keep The Third Eye Clear*

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Star's That Know No Rest - Ancient Egypt Astrology

Spirit of Sankofa writes........
In order to fully decipher the mindset of ancient Egyptians is to look towards the Stars, the Universal perpective of the Ancients.
In this lies the hidden things, that the world at large get twisted some how. For the most part, the fact is, if one try's to understand a people by looking from western cultural or any other perpective, they will not gain who and what their true message or way of seeing the world with accuracy.
This knowledge will make clear to the reader that the Egyptian mindset was far beyond the stars. Ahead of their time or was the world behind them, so they had to resort to stealing their knowledge and taking credit for their achievements. Pretty much it seem the only way to get a boost in their libraries of science.
The ancients had a keen sense of the universe and the inhabitance that cover the galaxy.
ie. The pyramid were erected in relation to the star's.
Egyptian deities, are referred to the "star's that know no rest". Way before rome, europe or anywhere else knew there were planets. These "great thinkers" already were aware of Jupiter- Horus the moon-Horus the red. Mercury-Horus bull of the sky. Venus- the one who crosses or the god of the mourning. They were also the first to establish by use of merkhets.The division of north-south lines. Also theses intellectual giants, figured out the night time hours as stars crossed the sundial.
Know Thyself:
Astronomical worship

The Egyptian gods and goddesses were numerous and were pictured in many reliefs. Certain gods were seen in the constellations, and others were represented by actual astronomical bodies. The constellation Orion, for instance, represented Osiris, who was the god of death, rebirth, and the afterlife. The Milky Way represented the sky goddess Nut giving birth to the sun god Re. The stars in Egyptian mythology were represented by the goddess of writing, Seshat, whilst the Moon was either Thoth, the god of wisdom and writing, or Khons.

The horizon had great significance to the Egyptians, since it was here that the sun would both appear and disappear daily. The sun itself was represented by several gods, depending on its position within the sky. A rising morning sun was associated with Horus, the divine child of Osiris and Isis. The noon sun was Re because of its incredible strength. The evening sun became Atum, the creator god who lifted pharaohs from their tombs to the stars. The redness of the setting sun was considered to be the blood from the sun god as he "died" and became associated with Osiris, god of death and rebirth. In this way, night became to be associated with death, and the daytime with life or rebirth. This reflects the typical Egyptian idea of immortality.

Astronomy for use in daily life
The centre of Egyptian civilisation was the Nile. Flooding every year at the same time, it provided rich soil for agriculture. The Egyptian astronomers, who were actually priests, recognised that the flooding always occurred at the summer solstice, which also just happened to be when the bright star Sirius rose before the sun. By interpreting and using this information, the priests were subsequently able to predict the annual flooding, a skill which in turn rendered them considerable power. The year was divided into twelve 30 day months, followed by a five day feast period. Because the Egyptian calendar did not have leap years, it cycled through the seasons completely every 1460 years. The period that elapsed between these risings is known as the "sothic cycle" . Over ancient Egypt's history, the months completely rotated through the seasons at least twice due to this quarter day discrepancy.

Although the Egyptians knew of this quarter-day error, they still maintained their 365 day calendar for ceremonial reasons.

Many Egyptian buildings were built with an astronomical orientation. The temples and pyramids were constructed in relation to the stars, and in different towns throughout the country, buildings would have a different orientation based on the specific religion of the place. Temples were often built so that sunlight entered a room at only one precise time of the year.
Astronomy for use in dating
One of the hardest tasks of the modern Egyptologist is to attempt to tie together, in some sort of chronological order, the pieces of evidence from burials, tombs, temples, archaeological excavations and a range of other sources. The surviving records of observations of the "heliacal rising" of the dog star Sirius serve as the lynchpin of the Egyptian calendar and its essential link with Ancient Egyptian chronology as a whole.

The "Sothic rising" of Sirius coincided with the beginning of the solar year only once every 1456 - 1460 years ( because of precession of the equinoxes and proper motion of Sirius it was usually a few days earlier than the 1460 years that the ancients had predicted) . This rare event took place in AD 139 during the reign of the Roman emperor Antonius Pius, and was commemorated by the issue of a special coin at Alexandria. Earlier heliacal risings would have taken place in around 1321-1317 BC and 2781-2777 BC.

Relief showing the use of the "merkhet" to determine a true north-south line

Astrological terms and beliefs in ancient Egypt

Heliacal Rising

The term used to refer to the annual ten day period when Sirius the "dog star" would rise above the horizon at dawn.

Sopdet (Sirius)

The goddess Sopdet was the personification of the "dog star", known to the Greeks as Seirios (Sirius). Sopdet was the most important star to the Ancient Egyptians, and was known as a decon. Together with her husband Sah (Orion), and her son Soped, Sopdet formed part of a divine triad which paralleled that of Osiris, Isis and Horus.

Sah (Orion)

The god Sah was the personification of the constellation later known as Orion. Sah was described as "the glorious soul of Osiris" and formed a divine triad with the dog star Sopdet and their son Soped, god of the "eastern border".


The son of Sopdet and Sah, Soped was a hawk-god and personification of the eastern frontier of Egypt.

Imperishable Ones

Ancient Egyptian star-gods. Deities known as the "imperishable ones" personified the ever visible circumpolar stars in the north of the sky.


The Ancient Egyptians would divide night sky into 36 groups of star-gods or constellations. These groups were known as decons, and each specific decan rose above the horizon at dawn for a period of ten days every year. The brightest and most important of these was the dog star Sirius, otherwise known as the goddess Sopdet. The ceilings of many royal tombs depict the night sky as groups of star-gods or decons, moving across the sky in boats.

Star Clocks

The earliest detailed texts relating to astronomy are the "diagonal calendars" or star clocks. These were painted on the wooden coffin lids of the early Middle Kingdom, and also the Late Period. These calendars consisted of 36 columns which listed the 36 decons and detailed the rising period of each. This calendar system was flawed by its failure to take into account that the Egyptian year was always approximately six hours short. This would add up to a shortcoming of around ten days every 40 years.


From as early as the Middle Kingdom, the Egyptians recognised five of the planets: Jupiter ("Horus who limits two lands"), Mars ("Horus of the horizon", or "Horus the red"), Mercury (Sebegu, a god associated with Seth), Saturn ("Horus, bull of the sky") and Venus ("the one who crosses", or "god of the morning"). The Egyptians portrayed the planets as deities sailing across the heavens in barques, and they were known as the "stars that know no rest".


The belief that the stars could influence human destiny does not appear to have reached Egypt until the Ptolemaic period. By the 1st century AD the Babylonian zodiac had been adopted. This zodiac can be seen represented on the ceiling of the chapel of Osiris on the roof of the temple of Hathor at Dendera.


The "instrument of knowing" was a sighting tool made from the central rib of a palm leaf and was similar in function to an astrolobe. The merkhet was used for aligning the foundations of the pyramids and sun temples with the cardinal points, and was usually correct to within less than half a degree. It was developed around 600 BC. and uses a string with a weight on the end to accurately measure a straight vertical line, much like a plumb bob. A pair of merkhets were used to establish a north-south line by lining them up with the pole star. This allowed for the measurement of night-time hours as it measured when certain stars crossed a marked meridian on the sundial.

Pedj Shes

Literally meaning "the stretching of the cord", the Pedj Shes was a ceremony performed to work out the correct alignment for the building of temples and pyramids. It relied on the sightings of the constellations of Orion and Ursa Major (the great bear) and used the sighting instrument called a "merkhet" ("instrument of knowing").


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Beauty of the Nile "UnMasked" Nefertiti hidden face

Spirit of Sankofa writes....

There is No denying the great history of africa's past. The most recent findings are, the stone corving of the statue differs from the external stucco face. It is a highly detailed sculpure of the queen. Nefertiti's bust became Egypt's Most valued treasured Artwork. A duplicate stone carving maybe the original some are sayinng. So8me changes were made to the sone replica yet, there are similarties.
If you have the time and means go see the exhibit.
CT scan reveals hidden face under Nefertiti bust

BERLIN (AP) — Researchers in Germany have used a modern medical procedure to uncover a secret within one of ancient Egypt's most treasured artworks — the bust of Nefertiti has two faces. A team led by Dr. Alexander Huppertz, director of the Imaging Science Institute at Berlin's Charite hospital and medical school, discovered a detailed stone carving that differs from the external stucco face when they performed a computed tomography, or CT, scan on the bust.

The findings, published Tuesday in the monthly journal Radiology, are the first to show that the stone core of the statue is a highly detailed sculpture of the queen, Huppertz said.

"Until we did this scan, how deep the stucco was and whether a second face was underneath it was unknown," he said. "The hypothesis was that the stone underneath was just a support."

The differences between the faces, though slight — creases at the corners of the mouth, a bump on the nose of the stone version — suggest to Huppertz that someone expressly ordered the adjustments between stone and stucco when royal sculptors immortalized the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten 3,300 years ago.

"Changes were made, but some of them are positive, others are negative," Huppertz said.

John H. Taylor, a curator for Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the British Museum in London, said the scan raises interesting questions about why the features were adjusted — but that answers will probably remain elusive.

"One could deduce that the final version was considered in some way more acceptable than the 'hidden' one, though caution is needed in attempting to explain the significance of these changes," Taylor wrote in an e-mail.

The bust underwent a similar CT scan in 1992. But the more primitive scanner used then only generated cross sections of the statue every 5 millimeters — not enough detail, Huppertz said, to reveal the subtlety of the carving hidden just 1-2 millimeters under the stucco.

Egyptologist Ludwig Borchardt discovered the bust in 1912 and added it to Berlin's Egyptian collection on Museum Island, a cluster of five neoclassical art halls that make up one of the city's most familiar landmarks.

Currently on display at the Altes Museum, the bust will move next door when the Neues Museum reopens in October after a lengthy restoration by British architect David Chipperfield.

In 2007, Wildung denied a request from Egypt's antiquities chief to borrow the bust for an exhibition, saying it was too fragile to transport. Huppertz said the results of his scan added credence to that claim.

Taylor, the British Museum curator, said the better understanding of the bust's structure will also help preserve it.

"The findings are particularly significant for the information they shed on the constructional process and the subsurface condition of the bust, which will be of value in ensuring its long-term survival in good condition" Taylor said.

'Beauty of Nile' unmasked –
CT scan uncovers hidden face of Nefertiti

Photo 1 of 3

Click link to see pictures of the stone bust.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Earliest Egyptian Chemical Manuscripts

Earliest Egyptian Chemical Manuscripts

Edited and Prepared by Prof. Hamed A. Ead

    Although Egypt is generally recognized as the mother of chemical and alchemical arts, unfortunately her monuments and literature have left only a few records which explain these arts. Some of these ideas that have been transmitted to us through Greek and Roman sources do not enable us to discriminate between the matter derived from Egypt and the confused interpretation or additions of the early Greek alchemists.

    History tells us that about 290 A.D, the Emperor Diocletian passed a decree providing for the destruction of works and ancient books on alchemical arts as well as on gold and silver throughout the empire, so as to prevent the makers of gold and silver from a massing richness which might enable them to organize revolts against the empire. This decree resulted in the disappearance of a mass of literature which doubtless would have furnished us with much insight into the early history of chemicals arts and ideas.

Discovery of the Earliest Egyptian Chemical Manuscripts

Part of the Stockholm Papyrus

Leyden Papyrus and Stockholm Papyrus

    Fortunately, there have been saved to our times two important Egyptian works on chemicals processes; the earliest original sources on such subjects discovered at Thebes (South Egypt), and both formed part of a collection of Egyptian papyrus manuscripts written in Greek and collected in the early years of the nineteenth by Johann d’ Anastay, vice-consul of Sweden at Alexandria.

    The main part of this collection was sold in 1828 by the collector to the Netherlands government and was deposited in the University of Leyden. In 1885, C. Leemans completed the publication of a critical edition of the texts with a Latin translation of a number of these manuscripts, including both works mentioned above.
It is known as the Papyrus X of Leyden.
The French chemist Marcelin Berhelot who was interested in the history of the early chemistry, subjected this Papyrus to critical analysis and published a translation of his results into French with extensive notes and commentaries.

On the basis of philological and paleographic evidence, he concluded that it dated back to about the end of the Third Century A.D. , however it is manifestly a copy a work previously written, as slight errors evidently due to copyist, are found. That the original is later than the First Century A.D. is certain as it included extracts from the Materia Media of Dioscorides. The work is a collection of chemical recipes and directions for :

Making metallic alloys
Imitations of gold, silver or electrum
Dyeing and other related arts

In 1913 at Upsala, Otto Lagercrantz published the Greek text with a translation into German of a similar Egyptian papyrus ;the "Papyrus Graecus Holmienis." This work like the Leyden manuscript is a collection of recipes for alloys, metal working, dyeing, imitations of precious stones and similar arts. Investigation revealed that this manuscript also came from Swedish vice consul at Alexandria, d’Anastasy, presented by him to the Swedish Academy of Antiquities of Stockholm. Here it slumbered apparently unnoticed until 1906 when it was transferred to the Victoria Museum at Upsala.

    Examination and comparison with the Leyden Papyrus made it evident that the new papyrus was not only identical, but in all probability was in part at least written by the same hand. Both papyri were in remarkably well preserved condition. Both gave internal evidence of having been copied from other originals. Berthelot has suggested that the Papyrus X had been preserved in the mummy case of an Egyptian chemist, and Lagercrantz agreed in the opinion and is probably made as deluxe copies for the purpose of being entombed with their former owner in accordance with a common custom of placing in the tomb articles formerly owned or used by the deceased. The two manuscripts were taken together from an interesting collection of laboratory recipes of the kinds which Diocletain ordered destroyed and which apparently were very generally destroyed . The date ascribed to them is about the time of the decree of Diocletain, and it may be presumed that, in the mummy case, they escaped the execution of that decree.

    The laboratory manuals from which these copies were made, were written not for public information but for the guidance of the workers. The recipes themselves are often very detailed directions, but often also were hints or suggestions, sometimes elliptical to such an extent as to give no clear idea of the process as carried out.

    The Leyedn papyrus compress about seventy five recipes pertaining to the making of alloys, for soldering metals, for coloring the surfaces of metals, for testing the quality of or purify of metals, or for imitating the precious metals.

    There are fifteen recipes for writing in gold or silver in imitation of gold and silver writing. There are eleven recipes for dyeing stuffs in purple or other colors. The last eleven paragraphs are extracts from the Materia Medica of Dioscorides, relating to the minerals or materials used in the processes involved.

    Berthelot notes that the artisan who used these notes while a practical worker in metals, especially the metals used by the jewelers, seemed to be a stranger to the arts of enamels and of artificial gems.

    It is, therefore, of great interest to discover that the Stockholm papyrus supplements the Leyden recipes in this direction. The Stockholm manuscript contains in all about a hundred and fifty recipes.

    Of these, only nine deal metals and alloys, while over sixty relate to dyeing and about seventy to the production of artificial gems. Some ten others deal with the whitening of off-color pearls or the making of artificial pearls.

    It has been noticed that there is practically only a duplication of recipes contained in each of the manuscripts, and very similar recipes occur in both. The recipes in both are empirical with no evidences of any occult theories, nor any of that obscurity of language which is so characteristic of the later alchemists.

    The parts dealing with the metals are largely with the metals are largely concerned with transmutation of gold, silver or electrum from cheaper materials, or with giving an external or superficial colour of gold or silver to cheaper metal. There seems to be no self -deception in these matters. On the contrary, there are often claims that the product will answer the usual tests for genuine products, or that they will deceive even the artisans. The vocabulary of materials used is practically that of Dioscorides, with few changes in the meaning used of such terms as are used by him, although at times the Latin equivalence of Vitruvius and Pliny have been employed.

    There is little to be found in these manuscripts which suggests that there has been less specifically described by them, but the papyri in the more definite and detailed directions they give, throw a very interesting light upon the somewhat limited fields of industrial chemistry, of which they treat.

    Examples will best serve to illustrate the character of the recipes and of the knowledge of practical chemistry which underlines them.

    The following are some selections of the Papyrus of Leyden, as found in the previously mentioned translation of Berhelot:

    Manufacture of asem (electrum)

    Tin, 12 drachmas; quicksilver, 4 drachmas; earth of Chios, 2drachmas. To the melted tin add the powdered earth, then add the mereury, stir with an iron, and put it into use. (This, then, is a tin amalgam intended to give the appearance of asem or silver. The earth of Chios as described by Pliny appears to have been a white clay. Pliny says it was used by women as a cosmetic.)

    The doubling (diplosis) of asem

    Take refined copper (chalchos) 40 drachmas, asem 8 drachmas, button tin 40 drachmas. The copper is first melted and after two heatings the tin and finally the asem is added. When all is softened, remelt several times and cool by means of the preceding composition. Clean with coupholith(tale or selenite according to Berthelot). The tripling (triplosis)is effected by the same process, the weights being proportioned in conformity with what has been directed above.(This recipe would yield a pale yellow bronze containing mercury if ,as seems probable.)

    Purification of tin

    Liquid pitch and bitumen, one part of each. Throw it on and melt and stir. Of dry pitch 20 drachmas, bitumen12 drachmas. ( This is manifestly a process of obtaining an unoxidized clean tin for further use.)

    Manufacture of asem

    Take soft tin in small pieces, four times purified. Take of it four parts of pure white copper (or bronze "chachos"), and one part of asem. Melt and after casting, clean several times and make what you will with it. This will be asem of the first quality which will deceive even the artisans. (Copper was whitened by the ancients sometimes by alloying with arsenic. A recipe in this papyrus gives directions for this whitening of copper.)

    Augmentation of gold

    To augment gold, take Tracian cademia, make the mixture with the cademia in crusts; or cademia of Gaul misy and sinopian red, equal parts to that of gold. When the gold has been put into the furnace and has become of good color, throw in these two ingredients and removing (the gold) let it cool and the gold will be doubled.

    (Cademia, it will be remembered, is the impure zinc oxide, containing sometimes lead and copper oxides, from the furnaces in which brass was smelted. Misy was the partly oxidized iron or coper pyrites, essentially basic sulphates of iron and copper. Synoppian red was haematite. This mixture, assuming the reducing action of the fuel in the furnace, or of any other reducing agent not specified in the recipe would yield an alloy of gold and zinc, with some copper and perhaps some lead.)

    To make asem

    Carefully purify lead with pitch and bitumen, or tin as well; mix cademia and litharge in equal parts with the lead. Stir till the mixture becomes solid. It can be used like natural asem. [Reduction in the furnace must here also assumed. The soft white alloy so obtained must have been a cheap and poor substitute for electrum or silver.]

    Preparation of chrysocolla ( solder for gold)

    The solder for gold is prepared thus; Copper of Cyprus 4 parts, asem 2 parts, gold 1 part. The copper is melted first, then the asem and finally the gold. [It will be recalled that the term "chrysocolla" was applied also to malachite, verdigris and copper acetate, all of these being used for soldering gold.]

    To determine the purity of tin

    Having melted it, place paper (papyrus) underneath it and pour it out. [If the paper is scorched the tin contains lead.]

    To make asem black as obsidian

    Asem, 2parts, lead, 4 parts. Place in an earthen vessel, throw on it a triple weight of native sulphur, and having put into the furnace, melt. After withdrawing from the furnace, beat and make what you will. If you wish to make figured objects of beaten or cast metal, polish and cut it. It does not rust.

    [This process yields a metallic mass blackened with sulphides of lead and similar to the black silver bronze as described by Pliny.]
To give objects of copper the appearance of gold, so that neither the feel, nor rubbing on the touchstone can detect it, to serve especially for a ring of fine appearance.
Gold and lead are reduced to fine powder like flour, 2 parts lead to 1 of gold. When mixed, they are mixed with gum and the ring covered with this mixture and heated. The operation is repeated several times till the article has taken the color. It is difficult to detect because rubbing gives the mark or ("scratch") of a genuine article, and the heat consumes the lead and not the gold.
[This is an interesting process of gold plating by using lead instead of mercury, the lead being oxidized and volatilized in the heating.]

    Test for purity of gold

    Re-melt and heat it. If pure, it keeps its color after heating, and remains like a coin. If it becomes whiter, it contains silver, if it becomes rough and hard, it contains copper and tin, if it softens and blackens, it contains lead.

    To gild silver in a durable way

    Take quicksilver and gold leaf, making to the consistency of wax. Clean the vase with alum, and taking a little of the waxy material spread it on the vase with the polisher and let it stand to fix. Do this 5 times. Take the vase with a linen cloth so that it be not soiled, and removing it from the coals, prepare ashes, smooth with the polisher and use it as a gold vase. It will stand the test for real gold.
[ The recipes for writing with letters of gold vary much according to the material upon which they were to be applied, as also with respect to their relative durability.]
To write in letters of gold

    Take quicksilver, pour it into a suitable vase and add gold leaf. When the gold appears dissolved in the quicksilver, shake well, add a little gum, one grain for example, and letting it stand, write in letters of gold.
Cheaper imitations of gold writings were also used as illustrated in the following:

Orpiment of gold color, 20 drachmas; powdered glass, 4 staters; or white of egg, 2 staters; white gum, 20 staters; safran…. After writing let it dry and polish with a tooth.
[An animal’s tooth used by jewelers for polishing up till now. In other recipes, the yellow or gold color is obtained by sulphur mixed with gum; the "bile of the tortoise," or of the calf, "very bitter," serves also for the color. These maybe secret trade names for some substances of different character.]

    Dyeing Processes in Leyden and Stockholm Papyri

The processes of dyeing are treated much more fully in the Swedish papyrus than in the Leyden one, and can better be discussed in connection with that work. Here you will find a comparison of dyeing processes in both papri***:

Leyden papyrus
Preparation of purple: Break in small pieces Phrygian Stone; bring to a boil and having immersed the wool, leave it till becomes cool, then throwing into the vessel 1mina of algae, boil and throw in the wool and letting cool, wash it in sea- water to purple coloration. The Phyrygian stone is roasted before breaking.

Stockholm papyrus
Purple-Roast and boil Phrygian stone. Let the wool stay in till cold. Then take it out; put into another vessel orseille (sea-wood or algae) and amranth, on emina of each, boil and let the wool cool in it. ***It is a pretty evidence(as Berthelot said) that the two recipes are practically the same, the first one helps us to understand the other.

    Phrygian Stone

It is considered by Berthelot probably to have been an alunite, or basic sulphate of aluminium and potassium.

While Pliny describes it as a porous stone resembling pumice which is saturated with wine and then calcined at red heat and quenched in sweet wine-the operation is three times repeated.

Its only use is in dyeing cloths

The algae used are manifestly the source of the dyestuff were probably lichens such as were formerly much used and which yield the dyestuff called archil or orseille.

    The notes on dyeing form an important part of the Stockholm papyrus, and furnish more specific information as to methods and materials employed than any other source of information as to the dyeing processes in use in Egypt in ancient times.
The recipes are almost exclusively devoted to the dyeing of wool. The colors range from purple and reds to rose, yellow, green, and blue, though the greater number of recipes have to do with purple.
That term with the ancients, includes deep red and even red brown as well as purples proper.

    Hints for testing the quality of dyestuffs

Woad should be heavy and dark blue if good, if light and whitish, it is not good.

Syrian Kermes -crush those which are best colored and lightest, those which are black or spotted white are bad. Rub up with soda and dissolve the fine colored.

Rub up the best colored madder and so make the test. Purple colored and fast orseille is purple snail-colored, but the white spotted and the black is not good.

When you rub up very fine colored orseille take and hold it in your hand.(A rough color test on palm of the hand )

Alum must be moist and very white, but that which contains saltness is not fit.

Of "flowers of copper" that fit for use should be either dark blue, a very green leek-color or in general possess a very fine color (Flowers of copper, the flos aeris of pliny, seems generally to be used for the copper oxide)

Methods For Whitening Pearls

Method 1:

If the pearls have a brownish tint as if smoked, it is directed to make a solution of honey in water, to add fig roots pounded f, and to boil down the mixture. Spread it on the pearls as and let it harden, then remove it and wipe off with a linen cloth. If the pearls are not yet white, repeat the process.

Method 2:

Mordant or roughen the pearls by letting them stand in the "urine of a young boy" then covering them with "alum" and let what remains of the mordant dry. They are then put into an earthen vessel with "quicksilver" and "fresh bitch’s milk" . Everything was then heated together, the process being regulated . It was cautioned to apply the fuel externally and to maintain a gentle fire .

Notice: lippmann suggested that "quicksilver" above mentioned cannot be mercury, but was probably some finely divided substance of pearly or silvery character, calculated to give the pearly luster .

**A curious method given for whitening a pearl is that of causing it to be swallowed by a cock, afterwards killing the cock and recovering the pearl, "when it will be found to be white."

Method of making Artificial Pearls:

one recipe of the Swedish papyrus that gives the earliest account of methods of making artificial pearls is as follows: Mordant or roughen crystal in the urine of a young boy and powdered alum, then dip it in "quicksilver" and woman’s milk.

    The word "crystal" often meant with the ancient quartz crystal, but it is very evident that with the authors of these notes the term was used in a more comprehensive sense to include other transparent or translucent stones. This use is very evident in the many recipes for imitation of precious stones, where the processes involve a degree of porosity or absorbed power towards colored solutions not possessed either by quartz crystal or by glass, while certain agents, micas, alabasters or other stones possess this property . In case of the above recipe, it is doubtful whether any such mordanting would in a reasonable time roughen the surface of real quartz adequately. The "quicksilver" here mentioned is evidently the same substance of pearly luster previously referred to.

    A more elaborate process for making artificial pearls is the following, suggesting the modern "Roman Pearls." : "Take a stone easily pulverized, as glimmer, and pulverize it. Take gum tragacanth and soften it f or ten days in cow’s milk. When it is soften, dissolve it till it becomes thick like glue. Melt Tyrrhenian wax. Take also the white of an egg and "quicksilver." There must be two parts of "quicksilver" and three parts of stone, but all of other materials one Part each. Mix (the stone and wax), and knead the mixture with the "quicksilver." Soften the paste in the solution of gum and the contents of the egg.

    Mix in this way the whole liquid with the paste. Then make the pearls which you wish according to pattern. The paste will soon be like stone. Make deep round impressions and bore them while moist. Let the pearls solidify and polish them well. Treated as they should be, they will excel the natural.

    Trade Names of Materials Used in the Recipes

    The use of the trade names for the purpose of concealing the character of the substance used where secrecy seemed desirable was not unknown at that period.

    There is a passage in Leyden papyrus concerning this and says that: " Interpretation drawn from the sacred writers employ for the purpose of putting at fault the curiosity of the vulgar. The plants and other things which they make use of for the images of the gods have been designated by them in such a way that for lack of understanding they perform a vain labor in following a false path. But we have drawn the interpretation of much of the description and hidden meanings." The secret names as the later alchemists used extensively: "blood of the serpent," "blood of Hephaistos," "blood of Vesta," "blood of lion," "blood of Hercules," "bone of the phyasimian," etc. . It is very probable that the term "quicksilver" in the preceding recipe takes its name from a similarity in appearance rather than from the deliberate attempt to mystify, for those recipes are for the artisan himself, not for the public, but it is also possible that some special constituents of these recipes were intentionally so named as to avoid advertising unnecessarily the more valuable secrets of their business.

    The "blood of the dragon’ for the red resin of the ptreocarpusdraco is doubtless a surviving remnant of the fanciful names used for mystification. The Swedish papyrus has a few other names of the same character, though in general its vocabulary is plain and direct. Thus the Greek word for garlic is used to designate human feces, sometimes used in mordanting wool . The manuscript itself gives this translation .

    The term "blood of the dove" used in the papyrus, Von Lhppmann has identified from other sources as meaning red lead or sometimes cinnabar.

Monday, March 30, 2009

African knowledge on video- Einstein relativity linking Dongon of Mali knowledge of the solar system and more

Spirit of Sankofa writes......


Watching ancient knowledge by venue of video, can make learning a little more interesting. Especially, for those of us that enjoy reading about it.

So let take advantage of every option out there.
Enjoy these are a selection of great videos pack with knowledge.

Know ThySelf!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ma'at, Goddess of Truth, Balance, Order....

Spirit of Sankofa writes.........
This is one of the most important deity's of the Egyptian mind-set. This particular Goddess represented universal "Harmony". In fact she was Harmony! If she wouldn't have existed the world would be in total chaos.. Ma'at was the solid reason the sun rised, the earth's movement. Without Ma'at there would be no balance. In other words...the ying yang of life.

"Know Thyself"

Ma'at, Goddess of Truth, Balance, Order...

Ma'at, Symbol of Order

Ma'at, unlike Hathor and Nephthys, seemed to be more of a concept than an actual goddess. Her name, literally, meant 'truth' in Egyptian. She was truth, order, balance and justice personified. She was harmony, she was what was right, she was what things should be. It was thought that if Ma'at didn't exist, the universe would become chaos, once again!

Ma'at was a solid ground of reality.

For the Egyptian believed that the universe was above everything else an ordered and rational place. It functioned with predictability and regularity; the cycles of the universe always remained constant; in the moral sphere, purity was rewarded and sin was punished. Both morally and physically, the universe was in perfect balance. Because of Ma'at, the Egyptians knew that the universe, that everything in the universe, worked on a pattern, just as, later on, the Greeks called the underlying order of the universe logos (meaning, order, pattern).

"In the beginning was the logos *, and the logos * was with God and the logos * was God." - John 1:1 * Logos was the 'Word', another name for Jesus.

Egypt, then, was seen to be nothing without Ma'at.

Ma'at was reality, the solid grounding of reality that made the Sun rise, the stars shine, the river flood and mankind think. The universe itself, all the world around them, was sacred in the ancient view. "Ethics" is an issue of human will and human permission. It is a function of the human world of duality. What is "ethical" for one group is sin for another. But Ma'at, the reality that made all groups what they are is transcendent of ethics, just as a rock or a flower is amoral, a-ethical, without "truth or falsehood." How can a flower be "false" or "ethical." It just is. How can the universe be "ethical or moral, right or wrong"? It simply is. That is Ma'at. Despite being a winged goddess (like Nephthys ), she was judge at the Egyptian underworld at the Halls of Ma'ati or Halls of the Double Ma'at .

The dead person's heart was placed on a scale, balanced by Ma'at herself, or by the Feather of Ma'at (her symbol that she wore on her head was an ostrich feather).

Thoth (god of writing and scribes) weighed the heart... if the deceased had been found to not have followed the concept of ma'at during his life (if he had lied or cheated or killed or done anything against ma'at) his heart was devoured by a demon (she was called Ammut - Devouress of the Dead) and he died the final death. If the heart weighed the same as Ma'at, the deceased was allowed to go on to the afterlife.

In life, it was the pharaohs' duty to uphold ma'at. "I have done Ma'at" has been spoken by several pharaohs, as well as being called "beloved of Ma'at".

The ruler who forcibly emphasizes his adherence to Maat on his monuments in Akhenaten — the very king whom later pharaohs considered to have deviated immensely from her laws. Ma'at, as would be logical, was also was the justice meeted out in ancient Egyptial law courts. It is likely that a "Priest of Ma'at" referred to people who were involved in the justice system, as well as being priests of the goddess herself.

There is a small temple dedicated to Ma'at (in ruins) at Karnak. The temple is inside Precinct of Montu, the smallest of three enclosures at Karnak. The temple seems to have been built by Hatshepsut , then reconstructed by Thuthmose III. You can see a computer reconstruction of Ma'at's temple at .

Ma'at did not exist until Ra rose from the waters of Nun (various gods and goddesses of Chaos). She was known as a Neter goddess, and as such, was described as a daughter of Ra. But without Ma'at, Egyptians believed that Nun would reclaim the universe. She was also thought to be the wife of Thoth, moon god and god of the wisdom.

She was, really, the most important deity of them all.

Translated - Welcome in Peace*

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lotus Flower- Symbol of Purity and Great Beauty.

Lotus Flower - Symbol of Purity and Great Beauty!

What makes the lotus flower so special?

The lotus flower is one of the most ancient and deepest symbols of our planet. The lotus flower grows in muddy water and rises above the surface to bloom with remarkable beauty. At night the flower closes and sinks underwater, at dawn it rises and opens again. Untouched by the impurity, lotus symbolizes the purity of heart and mind. The lotus flower represents long life, health, honor and good luck.

The lotus (Sanskrit and Tibetan padma) is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols and one of the most poignant representations of Buddhist teaching.

The roots of a lotus are in the mud, the stem grows up through the water, and the heavily scented flower lies pristinely above the water, basking in the sunlight. This pattern of growth signifies the progress of the soul from the primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment.

Though there are other water plants that bloom above the water, it is only the lotus which, owing to the strength of its stem, regularly rises eight to twelve inches above the surface.

According to the Lalitavistara, "the spirit of the best of men is spotless, like the lotus in the muddy water which does not adhere to it."

According to another scholar, "in esoteric Buddhism, the heart of the beings is like an unopened lotus: when the virtues of the Buddha develop therein, the lotus blossoms; that is why the Buddha sits on a lotus bloom."

The lotus is one of Buddhism's best recognized motifs and appears in all kinds of Buddhist art across all Buddhist cultures. Scrolling lotuses often embellish Buddhist textiles, ceramics and architecture.

Every important Buddhist deity is associated in some manner with the lotus, either being seated upon a lotus in full bloom or holding one in their hands. In some images of standing Buddhas, each foot rests on a separate lotus.

The lotus does not grow in Tibet and so Tibetan art has only stylized versions of it, yet it appears frequently with Tibetan deities and among the Eight Auspicious Symbols.

The color of the lotus has an important bearing on the symbology associated with it:

White Lotus (Skt. pundarika; Tib. pad ma dkar po): This represents the state of spiritual perfection and total mental purity (bodhi). It is associated with the White Tara and proclaims her perfect nature, a quality which is reinforced by the color of her body.

Pink Lotus (Skt. padma; Tib. pad ma dmar po): This the supreme lotus, generally reserved for the highest deity. Thus naturally it is associated with the Great Buddha himself.

Red Lotus (Skt. kamala; Tib: pad ma chu skyes): This signifies the original nature and purity of the heart (hrdya). It is the lotus of love, compassion, passion and all other qualities of the heart. It is the flower of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion.

Blue Lotus (Skt. utpala; Tib. ut pa la): This is a symbol of the victory of the spirit over the senses, and signifies the wisdom of knowledge. Not surprisingly, it is the preferred flower of Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom.


The lotus flower appeared in legends originating from ancient Egypt. It played an important part in ancient Egyptian religion. The pure white lotus flower, the only plant to fruit and flower simultaneously, emerges from the depths of the muddy swamp. Growing from the mud at the bottom of ponds and streams, the exquisite Lotus flower rises above the water and is usually white or pink with 15 or more oval, spreading petals, and a peculiar, flat seedcase at its center.

Sesen A Lotus Flower. This is a symbol of the sun, of creation and rebirth. Because at night the flower closes and sinks underwater, at dawn it rises and opens again. According to one creation myth it was a giant lotus which first rose out of the watery chaos at the beginning of time. From this giant lotus the sun itself rose on the first day. A symbol of Upper Egypt .The lotus flower played a prominent role in the version of the creation story that originated in Heliopolis. Before the universe came into being, there was an infinite ocean of inert water which constituted the primeval being named Nun. Out of Nun emerged a lotus flower, together with a single mound of dry land. The lotus blossoms opened, and out stepped the self-created sun god, Atum, as a child. A slightly different version of the creation story originated in Hermopolis. In that version, the sun god who formed himself from the chaos of Nun emerged from the lotus petals as Ra. The lotus is a flower which opens and closes each day. His history went on to say that the petals of the lotus blossom enfolded him when he returned to it each night.

The lotus flower has been featured extensively throughout the art of ancient Egypt. In various works of art, you may see it held in the hand of a god or human, serving as a border to outline a section of the artwork, unfolding to reveal various gods or humans, and many other depictions. The ancient Egyptians from the 4th dynasty greatly valued the sacred lotus, in religious ceremonies and funerals. The ancient Egyptians developed the art of counting to a high degree, but their system of numeration was very crude. For example, the number 1,000 was symbolized by a picture of a lotus flower, and the number 2,000 was symbolized by a picture of two lotus flowers growing out of a bush.

Lotuses are 5 species of water lilies, three in the genus Nymphaea and two in Nelumbo; both genera are members of the water-lily family, Nymphaea lotus, the Egyptian white lotus, is believed to be the original sacred lotus of ancient Egypt. It and the Egyptian blue lotus, N. caerulea, were often pictured in ancient Egyptian art.

The common Egyptian "lotus" is actually correctly called a water lily: the white lotus opens at dusk, the blue water lilly opens in the morning.

The white lotus is a shallow-water, night-blooming plant with a creeping rootstock (rhizome) that sends up long-stalked, nearly circular, dark green leathery leaves, which float on the surface. The flowers, up to 25 cm (10 in) across, remain open until midday. The blue lotus is a smaller, less showy day-blooming plant.

The Lotus flower has for thousands of years symbolized spiritual enlightenment. Indeed, this flower essence's purpose is to accelerate spiritual evolvement and enhance healing on every level within the system.
The blue lotus was native to the Nile and used to be abundant. Its narrow, pointed petals and round, spotted leaves appear as the more common lotus in every conceivable opportunity for Egyptian artistic imagery. Often the leaf spots are not shown, or even the leaf.

The white lotus' rounded petals appear with round, scalloped edge leaves. The red lotus was introduced to Egypt from Persia in later dynasties.

The Legend of the Lotus

Because lotuses grow out of the mud pure and clean, like morning dew from Heaven or water in springtime from a flower creek, lotus decorations and designs are everywhere the eye turns.

Chinese poets also use lotus flowers to inspire people to continue striving through difficulties and to show their best part to the outside world, no matter how bad the circumstances may be. This is understood as being just like the lotus flower, bringing beauty and light from the murky darkness at the bottom of the pond.

Another symbolic characteristic of the lotus flower leads from the observation that the plant's stalk is easy to bend in two, but is very hard to break because of its many strong sinuous fibres. Poets use this to represent a close unbreakable relationship between two lovers or the members within a family, showing that no matter how far away they might live nothing can really separate them in heart.

In Buddhism the lotus flower symbolizes faithfulness. The golden lotus that is mentioned in Buddhist sutras has two meanings, one is the symbol for the achievement of enlightenment and the other points towards a real flower which is beyond our normal perception.

The influence of a lotus flower painting is to open us up to beauty and light. A good lotus flower painting can act as a reminder of the miracle of beauty, light and life. This reminder, communicated on an emotional level, is said to aid both spiritual and practical understanding of Tao, the world and our place in it.

Chinese poets also use lotus flowers to inspire people to continue striving through difficulties and to show their best part to the outside world, no matter how bad the circumstances may be. This is understood as being just like the lotus flower, bringing beauty and light from the murky darkness at the bottom of the pond.

Lotuses are perhaps the most spectacular plants in aquatic environments. The Chinese say that, once having seen the growing lotus, you never forget it. The lotus flowers have color from red, pink, pale yellow to creamy white. A separate, long, tubular stalk supports each flower and each large round leaf.

The sacred Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera, is an extreme important spiritual symbol in Eastern religions. It represents purity, divine wisdom, and the individual's progress from the lowest to the highest state of consciousness.

Seeded in muddy waters, the lotus rises above the mud and produces beautiful and fragrant flowers. The big showy bloom may be 8-12 inches (20-30 cm) in diameter. The flowers open for just three days. Then each petal falls silently into the water, one by one, at a short period. The large green seed head or pod remains on the top of the stalk for a long time, and gradually turning to dark color and ripe. The seeds impeded in the cone-shape pod with flat surface at the top. The pod then reverts to the water, where it floats face down, allowing seeds to take hold in the mud. The seeds then germinate in the following Spring and give rise to new lotus plants.

All parts of lotus are edible. The immature seeds can be eaten raw or cooked, they have chestnut like flavor. Ripe seeds are roasted and ground into flour, or boiled to extract oil. Lotus roots produce starchy tubers and have the flavor of sweet potato. The young, unrolled leaves are cooked as a vegetable.

Lotus seeds have very hard, impermeable seed coats, and can remain viable for very long time. Sacred Lotus seeds, the most long-lived of all angiosperm seeds, have been known to germinate after more than 400 years! American Lotus (Nelumbo lutea) can germinate after a dormancy of 200 years, and recently, lotus seeds of 1,200 years from China had been germinated! What's an incredible plant!

Bright blooms from the muck

"Purity, trustworthiness, the Buddha, the virtuous man: these are what the lotus signifies," writes Huang Yung-chuan, assistant director of the National Museum of History, in his book Chinese Flower Arranging. Buddhism came to China in the Wei and Jin dynasties, at which time the lotus, which had been simply a source of food, became a symbol for purity and the subject of many poems.

"Bathing in the clear water of the spiritual pond, the lotus' roots dig deep into the soil." For the literati, the lotus represented distancing oneself from vulgarity. It was a metaphor that related to contemporary utopian notions, but was surely connected as well to the Buddhist ideal of "keeping apart from the world, like the lotus."

"My Love for the Lotus" by the Song scholar Zhou Dun-yi has exerted an influence on the Chinese down to the present. In this essay, the lotus is compared to a man of great virtue for being able to live in muck without being tainted by it. Qian Zhong-shu, a Republican-era writer, wrote that Zhou's "inspirations" stemmed from Buddhist ideas.

Buddhism explores how to transcend the troubles of human existence, to leave behind the sea of pain, the house of fire that is human existence. Becoming Buddha-like is the highest ideal. Out of the muck the lotus springs forth beautiful blooms, much as Buddhas free themselves from worldly worries. In the Middle Works of Hinayana Sutra, the Buddha says, "In this way the human heart doesn't give rise to evil desires or evil thoughts. It's like the blue, red and white lotuses that grow in the water but bear no water."

Chinese literati believe that a lotus is a pure world unto itself in which both body and soul are clean. According to the book Jian Nan Shi Gao, when the Song dynasty poet Lu Yu was 78 years old, he once dreamt that an ancient spoke to him: "I am the lotus scholar and responsible for the mirror lake," he said. "But now I am leaving, and I was wondering if you could take my place minding the moonlight, wind and dew and protecting the lotuses?

Every month you will receive 1000 jugs of wine in payment." Afterwards Lu couldn't forget this beautiful dream. A few years later, when he was very ill, he had another dream in which he walked amid 10,000 acres of lotus flowers. Lu's dreams can be said to combine Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist elements.

Muck is a field of blessing

In comparison to the literati's notions about not getting tainted by the mud, the Buddhist description of the lotus leaving the muck has even broader meaning.

Mahayana Buddhism stresses finding a release from worldly affairs while in the world, taking the path of a bodhisattva amid the five filths of the world. The bodhisattvas take the human masses as their "field of blessing"-the muck is luck, evil is good, pollution is purity and no clear dichotomies can be made. Hence, Mahayana Buddhism stresses the idea that "this flower doesn't grow in the highlands but rather it blooms in the vile swamps." The root and flower merge into one, in which there is no distinction between pollution and purity.

Apart from pursuing inner cultivation, meditation and deep thought, experiencing muck is also a form of cultivation, for it tests one's ability to endure misfortune and to sacrifice. Only by going to hell and being tempered by fire there, can one rise to religious exaltation and radiate the brightest and most beautiful light.

Collectively, the numerous different descriptions of the lotus are fitting, in that each lotus bloom is a magnificent world in itself. It is quite natural that images of the lotus are everywhere to be found in Buddhist lands.

In one of the Dunhuang Caves, you can find yourself surrounded on four sides by the petals of a giant lotus decoration, in which one peaceful Buddha after another sits in front of its own huge lotus petal. Since lotus petals and leaves have unusual shapes, you can always tell when a lotus flower is being depicted no matter if it has been stretched long, pressed flat, or molded into a square. Apart from actual representations of lotus flowers, petals and leaves, the ways gourds, dahlias, pomegranates and a variety of other fruits were depicted "were all adaptations and extensions of lotus designs," notes Lu.

White flowers from heaven

When Chan (Zen) Buddhism bloomed in China, the lotus did not lose stature, but Buddhist art became more subdued, and the use of color in depictions of the lotus declined. After the Song dynasty, folk culture grabbed hold of the lotus with gusto, giving it symbolic meaning that was no longer purely religious.

In mass-produced art works, fat babies danced while holding lotus leaves or lotus flowers. These were used in the hope that people would give birth to several boys in succession (a Chinese character meaning "one after another" is a homonym for the character meaning lotus). And the lotus leaves provide protection for goldfish under them, which to the Chinese symbolize abundance year after year. In the folk uses of lotus flowers it is often hard to discern whether there is any connection to religious belief. For instance, in the Tang dynasty one Buddhist deity was depicted as a baby holding a lotus flower and laughing. On a festival for unmarried women on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, children would come out onto the city streets and imitate him. Is this deity somehow connected to the idea that lotuses would help mothers produce boys?

"Chinese flower arranging also has roots in the Northern Dynasties' Buddhist 'flower offering' ceremony," writes Huang Yung-chun, assistant director of the National Museum of History.

Down to the present, even if Chinese don't understand the Lotus Sutra or lotus-related Zen esoterica, they will surely know that you light lotus lanterns on the Ghost Festival and that Songzi Niangniang allowed the Gold Boy and Jade Girl to get on a lotus and float to the world of men. In which case it's not hard to imagine that a small lotus pedestal can remove bad karma, direct souls of the deceased to proceed with reincarnation, and help cultivate one's inner spirit.

Purity, not fragrance and beauty

Nitpicking botanists might note that a lot of the explanations Buddhists have for the lotus are now far removed from the realities of the living ecology. When the lotus flowers, its ovule, cupule and shape are beginning to form but are not fully mature. This entomophilous flower requires insects to gather pollen in order for its fruit to ripen, and thus to say that it flowers while bearing fruit is not strictly accurate. Yang Yuan-po, who has researched water plants, says that the unusual platform-like cupule is shaped the way it is to attract bugs to its pollen, rather than to get human beings to imagine what it would be like to sit on it.

As for the way the lotus and the water lily close up, nimosa grass does the same thing. Chen Chin-yuan, a graduate student in the department of horticulture at National Taiwan University, says that flowers close up to make it easier for the plants to control their inner circulation of water, so as to avoid being affected by the weather, the humidity or even being touched by people.

The Diamond Sutra urges people to "cultivate the heart of a Buddha, by living nowhere." Hence, don't clutch tight to phenomena of this world and to things you are not supposed to desire.

Letting go of the lotus pedestal to find enlightenment is similar to the idea that you can only get to land by leaving your boat!

The Lotus Effect (the lotus flower's physical properties).

Author: Hans Christian Von Baeyer
January, 2000


THE LOTUS FLOWER IS REVERnED throughout the world. Its name is actually shared by a number of different plants with blossoms of various colors, but the most celebrated in art and literature is the sacred white lotus of the Hindus: Nelumbo nucifera. Its huge, almond-shaped petals form a shallow bowl around a seedpod that is vaguely reminiscent of the nozzle of a sprinkling can. This magnificent blossom, rising on a tall stalk from a flat base of large, round leaves, is endowed with an exotic aura. In Buddhist tradition, lotus blossoms mark each of the seven steps in ten directions taken, paradoxically, by the newborn Buddha. But without a doubt the color of the lotus--or, more properly, its utter absence of color--a blinding whiteness that speaks of unblemished purity, underlies its magical allure.

The lotus was an important icon in ancient Egypt, the inspiration for the Phoenician capitals that preceded the Ionic order of design, the sacred flower of Hindu religions and the object of the principal mantra of Tibetan Buddhism: om mani padme hum, which means "Hail, jewel in the lotus." Given the mechanical efficiency of prayer wheels that symbolically repeat those words without pause, the lotus may be the most frequently invoked plant in the world. In various parts of the world it has been a symbol of fertility, birth, beauty, sunlight, transcendence, sexuality and the resurrection of the dead. A twelfth-century Sanskrit poem extols Brahma, "the lotus of whose navel forms thus our universe." But above all, the lotus represents purity.

What an enchanting paradox, then, that the lotus grows in muddy waters, emerging from them unblemished and untouched by pollution.

An ancient Indian text refers explicitly to that wonderful quality:

The white lotus, born in the water and grown in the water, rises beyond the water and remains unsoiled by the water.
Thus, monks, the [Buddha], born in the world, grown up in the world, after having conquered the world, remains unsoiled by the world.

The surface of the lotus leaf is covered with a dense layer of pointy little moguls. The botanists had stumbled upon the secret of the lotus. To celebrate their discovery, Barthlott coined the term lotus effect.

To demonstrate the phenomenon dramatically, Barthlott likes to squeeze a droplet of water-soluble liquid glue onto a lotus leaf. He smears the droplet a little with his finger, then steps back to watch.

The glue quickly pulls itself back together, reforming the droplet, and the droplet rolls off the leaf at a stately pace. Not even glue can stick to an area as small as the tip of a microscopic mogul.

Just as impressive is Barthlott's demonstration of the cleaning power of water: when a lotus leaf is covered with a dusting of fine powdered clay, and a drop of water is added, the water rolls downhill, gathering dust as it moves. In its wake is a long, clean path, like the shiny trail of a snail.

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT, THE SECRET of the sacred lotus: its purity derives from its nubbly surface. Is that all?

For me, the opposite is true. When I see a lotus blossom now, or, what is more likely, the leaf of a cauliflower or tulip, I marvel at the ingenuity of nature in bringing forth, after a hundred million years of evolution, such pristine beauty through such an exquisite design. My awareness enhances my appreciation.