Ammut, Great of Death.

Ammut (aka Ammet, Amam, Amemet, Ammit and Ahemait) was a demon from the Ancient Egyptian mythos; she was a composite creature made up from the three animals the Egyptians feared most - the lion or leopard, the crocodile and the hippo. She dwelt in the underworld, Duat, in the hall of Ma'at, where the soul/heart of the deceased was weighed against the feather, symbolising truth, balance and order. If the heart was found to weigh more than the feather - in other words, all the wrong things the person had done in their life outweighed all the good things they had done - the heart was given to Ammut, preventing the owner from going into the Aaru, the fields of the blessed, and condemning the deceased to eternal restlessness.

I tried to go for something a little different to the usual "on duty" look, so yes, she's supposed to look big and slovenly - a skinny little slip of a thing with unblemished skin and perky breasts never struck me as particularly suiting for her. Besides, I wanted see if I could carry across stereotypical aspects of her three components in her manners; big cats are powerful but often just loll about sleeping; hippos are fat and lumpy and bad-tempered but capable of an odd turn of speed; crocodiles are cold, indifferent and endlessly patient but can easily rip you limb from limb. At least, that was the idea I wanted to convey, anyway - the idea she'd easily and happily dismember you... if only she could be bothered to get up and chase you.

The hieroglyphics around the outside are a part of the "Declaration of Innocence / Negative Confession" from the so-called "Book of Going Forth by Day" (aka "Book of the Dead"), and read thus (from top left to bottom right):

"Hail, Long of Strides, who comest forth from Anu, I have not committed sin.
Hail, Eater of Shades, who comest forth from Qernet, I have not slain men and women.
Hail, Stinking Face (?I think), who comest forth from Restau, I have not stolen grain.
Hail, He whose face is behind him, who comest forth from thy cavern, I have made none to weep.
Hail, Fiery-foot, who comest forth from the night, I have not attacked any man.
Hail, Sertiu, who comest forth from Anu, I have not been angry without just cause.
Hail, Her-uru, who comest forth from nehatu, I have terrorised none.
Hail, Orderer of Speech, who comest forth from Urit, I have not been wroth.
Hail, Nekhenu, who comest forth from Heqat, I have not shut my ears to the words of truth.
Hail, Bringer of his offering, who comest forth from Sais, I am not a man of violence.
Hail, Lord of Faces, who comest forth from Netchfet, I have not acted with undue haste.
Hail, Lord of Horns, who comest forth from Sauti-
(at which point I ran out of room.)

The cartouche at the bottom just says "Abigail Scott 2006", and the larger hieroglyphs under the lotuses in the top right read "AMMUT" (apparently).

NB: The text accompanying the image in the final portfolio was written by a different author.

Main image - watercolour and pencils on Bristol board; border - acrylic and fineliner inks on papyrus.
Drawn for the "Beasts of Yore" portfolio.

Back to Gallery