[Art/Culture] Egyptian Dictionary of Illustrated Mythological Creatures

Psychic Garden presents a rare Egyptian children's book with incredible mystical artwork - A dictionary of mythological folklore creatures from various cultures around the world ~ Written by Egyptian writer Shawky Abdul Hakim and illustrated by Egyptian artist Mohieddine El-Labbad.

~ This article contains dozens of HQ images, please allow a few moments for all of the incredible content to load before reading ~

Mohieddine El-Labbad (1940-2010)

This article was made possible by resident creative Sireen El Araj, who provided us with the full 40-page Arabic to English translation. This opening passage of the article is adapted from the book's back cover.

Front cover

"The book examines about fifty characters based on famous superstitious creatures in myths and folklore tales, whether in the Arab world or in other countries, these characters were arranged in the book in alphabetical order in the form of a dictionary - We will be reading about : (The Ghoul), (The Phoenix), (The Roc), (Shaqq And Sateeh), (Luqman's eagles), (The Beautiful Monkey), (El Naddaha) and (The Fire Dog). We will also read about: (Ganesha) and (Garuda), (The Dragon), (The Fire Rooster) and (The Water Goblin). This amazing and insightful book provides concise and accurate information about each character and their unique characteristics, providing a fictional illustration for each one. Our budding reader will enjoy learning about the Fantasies of different nations, and the way people everywhere have embodied their fear of the unknown in strange, humorous characters, far from logic and reason."

Back Cover

"The readers then realize that their childhood fear of these myths was an ordinary and common fear that one must go through in his childhood before his perception is refined, as human groups also go through it during their childhood and before their perception is fully realised. By knowing about the different types of these unique mythological creatures, the readers will know how the these creatures often have a strong relationship with the environment in which it appears in (the Elephant in India, the Eagles in Arabia, the monkeys in Sudan, and the tiger in Central America)".

"After the budding readers have folded the last page of the book, they will come up with clear ideas to help them assess their own stage of childish fear, and to permanently close that period. They also - perhaps – will enjoy the revival of their childish feelings of fear, with its wit and humor! The material of this book was prepared by, the writer, critic, and folklore researcher, Shawky Abdel Hakim, in cooperation with El-Labbad the illustrator, who also directed the book and drew its paintings."

~ Please enjoy the raw 40 pages of the book. The full translation and exploration on every individual creature is featured below ~

The Sphinx - (Egypt - Iraq - Greece)

A mythical creature with the body of a lion, and human head, sometimes portrayed with wings. Among the Assyrians, we find him with a long beard, There is also a Sphinx with a falcon head. In all forms of this Sphinx, his head symbolises rightful-thinking, and his body symbolises powerful force, he’s the creature that brings mind and power together.

In Assyria, beards were considered a sign of manliness and strength - akin to the lion’s mane ! The beard was also a status symbol. The higher up you are in the royalty ladder, the more flamboyant your beard had to become.

Alan - (The Philippines)

Alan lives in a house of gold, her upper half is human and the lower half is a bird. One of her habits is to cling her feet into the branches of trees. She appears in fairy tales as a creature that tends to cause evil and harm despite its naive and innocent appearance that deceives its victims.

Amphisbaena - (Europe - North America)

A snake with two heads: the first is in the front and the other is at the end of its tail. It moves quickly when one of its heads is placed between the other, this allows it to roll from one place to another like a huge collar. Myths say: This creature lives in the state of (Massachusetts) in the USA.

Aspidochelone - (Europe)

A horrific aquatic whale-like beast that floats still and motionlessly on the water's surface. Even trees, plants and flowers can grow on its huge back, sailors think it’s an island, so they land on it, and everything remains fine until they prepare fire for heating or preparing food, here the beast feels the burning sting. So it drags those unsuspecting sailors down under the waves straight down to reach the depths, where they all would perish. Aspidochelone eats in a strange way , the smell of it's breath is like small fish, he keeps his mouth open wide so the fish will swim into its throat.

Anansi - (West Africa)

A giant spider, which in some myths reincarnates the trickster’s personality, and has the ability to appear in a human form. This spider is characterised by many abilities and skills, he is typically selfish and loves tricks and setting traps. One of the characteristics of this supernatural creature is his ability to speak eloquently, except that he has a Lisp (when the tongue goes between your front teeth and makes the “th- sound for the /s/ and /z/ sounds). Anansi has an eerily big appetite. In the stories, the victims of this tricky spider try to fight him and sometimes some of them succeed.

Moon Rabbit - (Japan)

While we (Arabs) liken the moon's craterous surface to a human face, the Japanese see a rabbit on the surface, always grinding dry rice by hammering it. Japanese myths believe this rabbit is millions of years old, and his gray hair begins growing when it reaches the age of five hundred!

Talking Trees - (Egypt - India)

In fairy tales the characteristics of supernatural powers do not only apply on animals and birds, but also on trees. There are tales about trees that do not have a shadow, trees that can walk or speak with the protagonists of the story, they often give them pure advice if they were good heroes.