IAN
BABOON


   The earliest Egyptians worshipped a baboon god, among others, but in later periods the animal became intimately associated with the god Thoth, the god of memory, measurement, and writing. In fact, it was this god that originally taught humans how to write when he taught them medu netcher , "the words of the gods," or hieroglyphics. Representations of scribes (writers) and often painters almost always included a baboon above or beside that scribe or painter. They are also depicted on the tops of scales, since Thoth taught humans the arts of measurement as well. Thoth is also the god that weighs the human soul after death; if it is weighted down in any way, the soul is not allowed to pass on and live among the gods but rather is consumed by Amenti, a monstrous god with crocodile jaws, the front of a leapord, and the back of a hippo. The soul would then die a second death. If the soul is judged pure, then it joins the gods and the dead in the solar barque of Re.

   However, the Egyptians also frequently depicted the baboon in a gesture of praise towards the sun, perhaps because baboons make a raucous noise, like roosters, at the dawning of the sun. It is in this context that the baboon most frequently appears in Egyptian art.

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1997, Richard Hooker
Updated 4-8-97