Of Celestial Ark and Lotus: Ptah-Sokar-Ausir Reaches His “Filling”
The completed color (sans touch-ups) of the God Ptah-Sokar-Ausir and His Henu Ark on the icon panel of “Ptah-Sokar-Ausir“~ an original Kemetic icon by master iconographer Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa/ Panel 1 of The Sacred West Triptych
Once again we arrive at the days for “filling the Wedjat Eye”, which culminate on Full Moon Day (February 22nd) and bring us into the wholeness (uwdja) of the Netjer’s power. At this “filling” I have brought to completion another significant portion of my icon of Ptah-Sokar-Ausir. Most closely associated with the netjer is His Henu Ark, an embodiment of the God’s cyclical manifestation of rejuvenation and resurrection, fertility and transformation after death. In ancient times the earthly ark or barque-shrine of the god contained (or was surmounted by) a large mound-shaped shrine crowned by the hawk or falcon head of Sokar. With dramatically ornamented and curved prow and lower stern, the Henu Ark rested on an elaborate framework outfitted with a sledge and runners, providing both support and mobility for ritual or festival events when the god’s cult images were transported.
Although I have been very careful in my adherence to the traditional iconography of the Henu Ark proper, conspicuously absent in my depiction are the shrine framework, sledge and runners highly visible in ancient depictions. My reason for doing this is quite simple: the Henu Ark seen in my icon is not the earthly shrine-barque in which the god’s cult images were kept and processed during ceremonial occasions. My Henu Ark is the celestial ark of the god, the spiritual dwelling of the netjer in his portion of the Netherworld, which, of course, needs no support or runners to facilitate its mobility. It is the power and presence of the netjer Himself which moves this Henu Ark through the sky of the duat (Netherworld). This symbolism is further supported by the three-headed and winged serpent whose writhing body rises up to lift and empower the Henu Ark in its celestial course. Such a creature is seen in the company of the God Sokar in royal tomb depictions in texts of the fifth hour of the Book of Amduat.
In my icon of Ptah-Sokar-Ausir we are shown a Henu Ark composed of substances identified with the celestial origination of the Gods and their physical manifestations. I have used genuine jadeite (representing turquoise) and lapis lazuli to fill in the side panels and oars of the ark, whose details include raised reliefs in 22 karat gold. The stern panel has been painted with genuine lapis lazuli to look like stones of lapis lazuli; likewise the central panel (with its spirals of raised relief in 22 karat gold), which uses genuine jadeite blended with iridescent pigments to replicate the appearance of turquoise. Both turquoise and lapis have celestial connotations in Kemetic iconography, though the use of “turquoise” here is linked to the fertility of resurrection and rejuvenation as well.
The Henu Ark is traditionally equipped with various images relating directly to the cult of Sokar as a chthonic deity, and a source of resurrection and fertility. The head of a white oryx or Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx) always crowns the prow of the Henu Ark, signifying the fructifying power of the god, while the inet fish or Nile tilapia (Tilapia nilotica) embodies rebirth and renewal after death. Both of these attributes have been provided in intricately detailed raised relief in 22 karat gold. In this line of symbolism, I have placed one of the primary associations with resurrection, the djed column, directly behind the god in the stern of the Henu Ark. To bring the power of these highly charged symbols to their fullest flowering, the Cobra-Goddess Wadjet rears up from the crown of the djed, her powerful coils draping the tiers of the column closest to the netjer’s body.
Quite appropriate for this time leading up to Full Moon Day, work has begun on the abundance of lotuses fanning out from the sun bursting from behind the face of the god. Precious genuine jadeite and other iridescent pigments have been used to create the delicate “veins” of lotus petals and leaves, whose round bases have been composed as raised reliefs with 22 karat gilding.