Enduring Strength

Ink pen and colored pencil on acid free paper, 17.8 x 25.3 cm (7 x 10 in.),
Spiral rings removed after the scan, and hand written text replaced with digital:


I knew I'd be doing some variant of a Djed pillar when I chose the theme "Enduring in the Desert for the theme of this year's sketchbook drawings:

As defined in_Art for Eternity_, by Fazzini, Romano and Cody, page 157
djed-pillar "An Egyptian hieroglyph, probably a manifestation of part of the spinal cord, that was a written form of the word for 'stability'. It was a commonly employed symbol in religious iconography."

When I was feeling somewhat sickly and lying on the couch watching "Christmas at Yellowstone", which aired on PBS, one of the narrator's words seemed spoken extra loud, and meant for me. She spoke of how the animals must gather their fortitude to ENDURE the winter there. Winter in the desert is a relatively mild experience, but there are the summers desert dwellers experience.

However, the word ENDURE stood out in a different way. It seems a natural evolution from last year's theme, "Set is in his Desert". One can consider the desert to be a place of solitude or of desolation. The difference of perception probably depends more on one's internal landscape.

One's own internal landscape may at times feel as though it is full of the harshest weather and geographic conditions. How do we gain the strength to overcome these situations?

That is what I hope to explore this year.

This personified Djed pillar found in Richard Wilkinson's Reading Egyptian Art was my model for the Djed. I have no idea what it was holding. Looking through two prolific photographers' efforts at Flickr did not reveal the scene from which it comes. As the item's bottom is not forked, it was likely not the Was scepter.

When I did this drawing back in January, I didn't know whether or not a Djed has ever grasped a Was scepter, and only knew they certainly appear besides the Was scepter, in great abundance. But since then, I've learned of a beautiful example in Nefertari's tomb, which I've also attempted.

From _Reading Egyptian Art_, Wilkinson, page 165
"In relief scenes, and in decorated objects, the djed was one of the most frequently used hieroglyphic signs, with alone or in conjunction with the ankh and was signs, or with the tiet - the so-called 'Isis knot'. The djed also had particular associations with Egyptian concepts of royalty. In the temple of Seti I at Abydos, personified djed signs are shown in the kind of heavy pleated clothing worn by royal figures (ill. 3), possibly as representative of the king himself."

At any rate, the two symbols are being combined here to denote 'enduring' 'strength'. The Djed stands for permanence and endurance, while the Was stands for power. So I took the Was example I photographed at the Met museum for the scepter's head. (The direction has been flipped because we read left to right, and there's a sense of 'left to right' meaning 'going forward', 'facing forward', 'facing the future'.

I experimented first with digital color, but it wasn't very satisfying:

However, I did like the digital lettering much better than my clumsy efforts, so I retained that in the final version, rotating it .5 degree to better match the base: