Thursday, January 28, 2016

Mawanusa Blog: The Apsaras and Their Pets

Mawanusa Blog: The Apsaras and Their Pets: If you are traveling to Angkor complex or visiting Khmer temples probably you will notice that in every temple you enter, you will easily ...

The Apsaras and Their Pets

If you are traveling to Angkor complex or visiting Khmer temples probably you will notice that in every temple you enter, you will easily witness some beautiful carvings, ornaments, and many figures and figurines to decorate the temple entrance, walls, passages, etc. The most noticeable probably those figure of Apsara, the heavenly dancers or dancer of the God Kingdom in the heaven shown on earth.  In almost in every temple you will find the Apsara, small size, medium or large size, flying Apsaras with many details, styles, shown how it was the dance, with different costumes, hair styles, accessories and beautiful faces. The process to build the temples and to carve these figures probably takes such long period of times. The work is so fine and very details in every carving displayed here.

Talking about the Apsara; mostly in one temple, the style of Apsara perhaps has a bit similarity. The only different probably the cluster display, group of apsara from one lower level of the temple to higher ground like the apsara of the Bakan look prettier than other Apsaras in Angkor Wat.

Their faces are also slightly different from one to the other or group of Apsaras to the other group in the different corner of the temple’s wall; this is probably because of the different individual worker or group of workers who carved these statues that perhaps their faces were copies of the Apsara’s faces or at least applied as self-portrait-carving kind of.

During the pose or dance, the Apsaras dressed extremely beautiful with many accessories from head to toe. As well as every Apsara will carry her own things for purpose or something in her hands like lotus flowers, bouquet of jasmine flowers, flower arrangement on sticks, mirror, combs, offerings, as well as carry animals or something else.

The Apsaras carried animals in her hands, I presumed that those Apsaras has their very own preference animal or their own pet/s. I found few of them carried bird/pigeon, rooster/chicken/bird, fishes, etc.

I am not a scholar neither expert on Angkor but I love Angkor complex which I spent more than eight years in Cambodia in both Siem Reap (more than 6 years) and Phnom Penh (2 years). As I visited and explored the temple as many as 50-60 times, sometime I managed myself to discover something that I never see before in the temple complex. As soon as I start to detail evry corner of the complex as well as the carvings, hidden graffiti, the more I luckily see by my own eyes something new about this magnificent civilization in the ancient era, like this beautiful carving of Apsaras carried their pets.

About the image above:
An Apsara with something (probably animal)
Nokor Bachey temple

Why the Apsara carry animals?
As I found in some temples I have visited, I have seen pigeon/bird, chicken/rooster/bird and fish that attached to the Apsara’s hands. The Apsara like to carry animals probably for some reasons as:

1.     The Apsaras love animals
2.    Probably their pet
3.    Probably for the offerings
4.    It might the Apsara would like to offer special dance related to the animal
5.    Probably that particular animals were the sign of the area
6.    Send a message  as in particular form of the animal
7.    Probably it was preference of the artist that carved the statue
8.    Every animals has its meaning and represent something

Animal symbols related to the Apsara appearance

About the image above:
an Apsara with a bird/pigeon
Nokor Bachey temple
Apsara carries bird/ pigeon: pigeon is amazing creature and probably the oldest domestic bird that recorded in almost every era of civilization. It is show that pigeon is very smart, pure, intelligent, and has very good navigation ability. If you release the pigeon; it will be easily find its way back home. The pigeon has strong connection between itself, the owner and its surroundings. The pigeon is a lovely bird, strength, stubborn and the pigeon as symbol of accomplishments of some important work or tasks. Bird flies high into the sky that show strength, energy-fly away, view from above and bounce back! The dance to attract the unknown spiritual source to bring the blessing back to earth for the people in the Khmer Kingdom!

About the image above;
An Apsara with rooster/chicken/female chicken
Ta Phrom temple
Apsara carries rooster/bird/chicken/female chicken: rooster symbolize abundance blessings today’s life of providence, a thankful gesture to be born, it is positive relation between human and creator. It is between mind and super mind, intellectual and super intellectual, sexuality, fertility, grow and future. It is after the equinox of chicken egg, it is dynamic, balancing and popular as domestic animal very close to human as well as to create harmony. The spirit of the rooster is that usually use instinct to detect the ground to search food and keep it to her chicks. The beauty symbol of the roster is also for motherhood power of keeping relationship harmonious, responsible and productive, and protective. All vibration that Apsara show us when she carried rooster while she socialize and appear in the public.

About the image above:
An Apsara with fish on her left hand
Ta Phrom temple
Apsara carries fish: in this topic of the Apsara carries fish probably more complex compare to few others scenes that I saw in the temple. Fishes related to water, blue water, instinct, depth (probably of knowledge), mysteries and consciousness. The fish is a symbol of birth in the womb of water of deep lake of the Tonle Saap; which probably live many spices of fish alive and nobody have any clue actuality how deep it is and what living creature that live in it. Nobody can see the bottom of the lake, the people of Angkor probably just guess with uncertain answer left behind.

In the east, the fish is a symbol of good luck, happiness, fertility, knowledge and abundance. The Apsara dance with fish in her hand probably is to wish you good luck, give you abundance of energy, knowledge as well as harmony as the fish swim in deep blue water that calm, intelligent, happiness and eternity will merged together in the act of blessing dance ceremony.

In Hinduism the fish is a form of avatar of Vishnu as Matsya, a giant fish with human head skimmed to save the planet earth. While in the Buddhism, fish is one of the eight auspicious symbols as follows: white conch, precious umbrella, banner, golden fish, dhama wheel, drawing, lotus flower and vase of treasure.

In the Khmer philosophy (mostly based on Hinduism and Buddhism), bird, rooster, fish and probably other few animals have their own meanings and symbols toward faith, spiritual and daily life.

Recently I only discovered 2 different Apsaras with their pets around the temple in Angkor complex at Ta Phrom temple as well as 1 or 2 at the Nokor Bachey temple which is 1 of them I am not sure if it is really animal or something else as the figure has very bad condition, but I am pretty sure a lot more need to discover in few other locations in the future. If you found new feature of this kind, please update to get better information.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Mawanusa Blog: The Buddha's Hand Citrus Fruit

Mawanusa Blog: The Buddha's Hand Citrus Fruit: There is citrus plant which produces fruit with many segments human-like finger clusters or resemble human fingers from 5-20 segments, so ...

The Buddha's Hand Citrus Fruit

There is citrus plant which produces fruit with many segments human-like finger clusters or resemble human fingers from 5-20 segments, so called Buddha Hands. I do not really know who actually called that way for the first time. But I knew that type of citrus usually presented in the altar or placed as an offering during the special Buddha related day, as an offering during New Year in Vietnam with another 4 kind of fruits, it is symbol of luck, happiness, bright day, prosper, good fortune as well as longevity.

About the image above: display of Buddha's Hand at fruit market
in Ho Chi Minh City

About the image above: the segments of the Buddha's Hand

About the image above: inside of the Buddha's Hand fruit

This intriguing citrus fruit is cultivated through its seeds (but so far I did not find any seed yet from many fruit I have cut and use in my food)  or cutting from the branches. The tree will grow as young tree large shrub and the branches with thorny spikes, evergreen and produce flower then young fruits. The leaves are purple when young and turn to green as soon as grow tall as 3-5 meters or more. The white-purple flowers then turn to green-purple fruits when young and turned to green and then become very beautiful yellow lemon fruit when it ready to harvest.

The native of the Buddha’s Hand citrus to North East India, China and surroundings region and now can fine in many part of the world. In the ancient time the Buddha’s Hand was in use religion purposes as offering and sometime for the ingredients of traditional healing medicine, but today many uses of this mutant bizarre-look citrus as discovered of the content in it and the creativity of talented chefs.

This ornamental fruit has very mysterious, mind healing, delicious, nature clean, last long fragrance as you displayed in the room will give amazing perfume about a week or more if you store it in the air-conditioned room.

The use of the Buddha’s Hand citrus fruit

  • Religius: as display for offering during particular Buddha’s day or New Year offering as in Vietnam consider one of the 5 kind of fruits (Mam Ngu Qua – together with green bananas, plums, peaches and orange or chilies)
  • Medicine: As ingredient of traditional medicine or tonic. Boiled in water and drink it to cure stomach ache and reduce blood pressure.
  • Beverage: soaked in wine or vodka and keep for a month then drink for the amazing aroma and texture of the beverage
  • Food: to flavor the food like cream caramel, crème brule, vinaigrette, salad dressing, jam, pastry, ingredient for salad, serve to flavor cheese and many more.
  • Perfume/fragrant: to give fragrant smell for the room when you hang it.

 Here some recipes you may want to give a try!

Buddha’s Hand Vinaigrette
Make 1 cup

2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons of rice vinegar
1 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 finger of Buddha’s Hand zest
Salt and pepper to taste

About the image above: Buddha's Hand vinaigrette

To prepare the vinaigrette: in a blender, combine the ingredients and blend them to combine. Store it in a container for later use.

Sliced Black Forest Ham and Asparagus with Buddha’s hand Vinaigrette
Makes 2 servings

12 pieces of cooked green asparagus
16 slices of black forest ham
3 tablespoons of Buddha’s hand vinaigrette
Some milled black pepper

About the image above: sliced black forest ham
green asparagus and Buddha's Hand vinaigrette

To prepare the salad: arrange the asparagus and sliced black forest ham nicely on plate.
Drizzle with Buddha’s Hand vinaigrette and sprinkled with some zest and serve immediately.

Seared Kampachi Fillet with Buddha’s Hand Shallot Butter
Makes 2 servings

4 fillets of fresh kampachi, about 80 grams each
salt and pepper to taste
½ piece of lemon to season
4 tablespoons of Buddha’s Hand Shallot Butter
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

Buddha’s Hand Shallot Butter
Make ½ cup

2 fingers of Buddha’s Hand zest
1 tablespoon of chopped shallot
1/3 cup of white wine
½ cup of unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste
dash of chili flakes
½ tablespoon of freshly squeezed yellow lemon juice

About the image above: seared kampachi fillet
with Buddha's Hand shallot buffet

To prepare the sauce: in a small pot combine the chopped shallot and white wine and reduce it to half. Add in the butter and quickly combine with the Buddha’s Hand zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper and chili flakes. Check the seasonings and serve it with the fish.

To prepare the kampachi: season and marinated the fish with salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil. Seared the kampachi and then place in a try, to cook further in the oven for about 5 minutes at 185 degrees Celsius.  Arrange the kampachi fillet on a plate and serve it with Buddha’s Hand shallot butter. Serve it immediately.

Buddha’s Hand Smoothies
Makes 4 servings

1 cups of milk
2½ cups of yogurt
1 tablespoon of Buddha’s Hand zest
3tablespoon of lemon honey
½ teaspoon of freshly squeeze lemon juice
¼ cup of crushed ice

About the image above: Buddha's Hand smoothies

To prepare the smoothies: combine the ingredients in a blender and pulse it to smooth the Buddha’s Hand zest and make sure it is mixed well. Keep in fridge until you need to serve. The cooler is the better. Pour in glasses when serving. Garnish with some of the Buddha’s Hand zest and serve.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Mawanusa Blog: A JOURNEY OF AFTERLIFE: THE UNDERWORLD CONCEPT OF ...: In every era of civilization and religion there is a concept of the living being. They understood and manifest their very own beliefs fo...


In every era of civilization and religion there is a concept of the living being. They understood and manifest their very own beliefs for several centuries that human being was not just a ‘living being’ but also takes a journey from the Mighty Creator toward a better way of life in the afterlife. The journey of every soul started from birth, living on this physical plain, death and the experience with the underworld. There are many long roads and different stages that had to be travelled by the soul. The journey of the human soul and the human heart will be weighed during the judgment day at the hall of Osiris, with seven steps of seven skies to the altar of God himself.

About the image above: coffin for mummy
From the collection of Aswan Museum

In the everyday experiences that we see, the human being consists of the physical body and there is a living being in it, we often refer to as the soul. But in the ancient Egyptian religion the human being consisted of few parts.

Ha or Haw
This is the human that can be easily recognized. The human body that hold the soul or the medium that soul exist in it. The birth of a child from every mother and grow up to be older and pass the time to afterlife.

About the image above: Ba statue
From the collection of Aswan Museum

The ‘Ba’ is the soul of the body. The manifestation of the ‘Ba’ is the main spiritual aspect for the survival of the human body that existed in the human body to create a living being. The appearance of the ‘Ba’ was portrayed as a human–headed falcon. Even when the human body has been mummified, the ‘Ba’ still exist and sometimes it was shown flying or hovering over the mummy, entering the tomb and meet others in the afterlife, or flying to join the ‘Ka’ in the afterlife. The ‘Ba’ is a unique character and personality as mentioned in the Coffin Texts that ‘Ba’ comes into existence after the human body is considered dead, it is acting like a living body that can eat, drink, sleep, copulate, is corporeal just like in the real world. ‘Ba’ is stated to be the one who give the direction of living (Wpíw bЗ is hnt nr ‘nhw – Wpíw, as a Ba at very top of living – Pyramid Texts §1899c)

‘Ba’ is also recorded in the Conversation of Man and ‘Ba’, when the ‘Ba’ would like to leave the body of man, there said to be a dispute between the body of man and his own ‘Ba’.

The ‘Ka’ is a vital spark of the existence of the ‘Ba’, a duplication of the body that made ‘Ba’ existed, as a reproduction of the projection of the individual, it is a spiritual entity that was believed living within the body while one is alive and it also survive after death. It was when ‘Khum’ created an individual person then the ‘Ka’ started following this creation through the entire physical life and afterlife. The projection of the ‘Ka’ has to be the same as the individual self. The ‘Ka’ for women is a woman, the ‘Ka’ for man is a man, and the ‘Ka’ for child is a child. When a person dies, the ‘Ka’ will stay at the tomb as independent being, sustained through a variety of offerings presented in the tomb.

About the image above: cobra head statue
From the collection of Cairo museum

The most inner core of the ‘Ba’, the spark of the divine-light from inside of the essence of the most self. The ‘Akh’ is the immortal part of the soul that will emerge and form again after the person passed the judgment after death.  The ‘Ba’ and ‘Ka’ will be united in the journey to create a divine soul known as Akh (or Akhu, Ikhu, Khu).

The ‘Akh’ was believed to live for eternity unharmed. In ancient Egypt it was also believed that the proper funeral sequences, proper offerings of special prayers and spells, mummification process, the tomb offerings, strictly following the funerary literatures as mentioned in the Coffin Texts and the Book of the Dead or ‘Per-t-Em-Hru’ - all of these processes will allow the soul not to die for the second time.

The Journey of the ‘Akh’ started from the separation of the soul after death to become as ‘Ba’ and ‘Ka’, and then followed by the judgment day with many questions and witnesses and then reunite again as a process of a long journey afterlife.

Those mentioned above were the most important elements of the soul processes of death in the ancient Egypt religion. However those processes became more elaborate with the extension of the following part of the process toward the progress of the soul in the afterlife and the soul’s journey towards the Creator.

This part is very important to the quality of the soul, the ‘Ib’ (or Yb or Ab) or called the heart. The heart handles very important role toward the quality of the soul. The heart or ‘Ib’ is the residence of the ‘Ka’. The ‘Ib’ is more important and plays greater role than the brain itself and of immense importance during the ‘Judgment of the Dead’ weighing the dead person’s heart on a scale with Thot and Seshat as witness. How pure was your heart to influence the ‘Ba’ on its action through the ‘Ha’.

The ‘Ib’ is the intelligent interior of the created wishes, intentions, attentions, attractions, through thought, mind, and ego. The heart is the state of the true self to navigate the soul since the heart is also the source of good and evil state of mind, positive and negative and continuously influencing the evolution of the soul and its journey.

The existence of the individual ‘Ba’, the owner of the body is the ‘Ren’ or the name of the person that has to be maintained in good manner. The name given at childbirth in the ancient Egypt was given for public name and the other name was the secret name that only the mother knows. The secret name has to be kept secret for many reasons including power, magic purposes, etc. The ‘Ren’ is the name of the soul and the body during its lifetime. The name of the person while in this world and will continue to carry this name to the world afterlife, if the name was a bad person the people will remember that you are bad forever, but if a good person you will be maintained and the people will remember your efforts as a good person, and your name will survive, to be read and spoken forever.

It is a ‘Shadow’- a protection shadow or  ‘Sheut’ was a blessing for the ancient Egyptian; it is an essential part of the living being. The power of ‘Ba’ and ‘Ka’ is referred to as a protection of the living soul and connection with the other world, the universe and God himself (Ntr – Netjer - God).

About the image above: scene from papyri book of dead
From the collection of Alexandria Library


The journey of the soul afterlife in the ancient Egyptian was quite complex with all the beliefs, ceremonies and offerings. The sequence of the treatment of souls starts from conception in the womb of the mother, until the baby is born and slowly matures, applying the rules of social norms, having a good conduct guided by Maat, prayer and belief in the rules of Gods and Goddess. While living, they dedicated their time to build temples, learned things that are related to the progress of life and to make sure they make no mistakes in thinking, speaking and no act of wrong doing.

The afterlife journey is as much as important as the life on the physical realm itself and even in some part it is even much more important since this is the journey that has no return and has to be kept harmoniously with the soul as mentioned in many literatures. The journey to the external house of the dead that was built in the imagination of ancient Egyptians was believed to have corresponded to the ideas of the afterlife.

Crossing the Celestial River: The Journey begins by crossing the river from the east side of the river bank (probably the river Nile) by boat to the Land of the West (the land of the dead). The boat navigated by the ferryman Makhaf on boat of Aken – who will then transport the soul from the Land of the East of the river to the land on the West side of the river.

Many tests were happening during the crossing of the river. The demon snake appeared in front of the Akh and tries to attack him. Since the journey started, the ‘Akh’ has difficulties crossing the river so there was a need to say some prayers or spell to protect him during his trip, the spell 33: ‘O Rerek snake, go from the way and take yourself off the way, Geb will protect me, get up for you have eaten a mouse which Re detest’. On this way to the land of the west, the ‘Akh’ needs to change its appearance and become a lotus flower, as a camouflage. The ferryman will also help the soul by keeping the owner of the boat awake, but the boat owner was so upset and unhappy because he carries the soul to the west and he only wanted to carry the soul to the west if the ‘Akh’ can correctly name all parts of his boat. If the ‘Akh’ can answer all the questions and passes this test then the owner of the boat will agree to transport the ‘Akh’ to the other side of the river.

Passing the gates and labyrinths by answering questions: After reaching the west side of the river then the soul will reach the first of the many doors and labyrinths. Every time the soul passed through one door, automatically the door will ask certain question, the soul need to answer correctly and honestly to pass through the next door and this door will also ask a different question and the same sequence continue until the soul reach to its final destination at the Court of the Underworld.

In the earlier papyri version the ‘Papyrus of Nu, 1it was mentioned that the underworld of the ancient Egypt has seven Arits or gates with its personal gatekeeper, watcher and herald.

Gate/Arit 1: Gatekeeper: Shkhet-Hra-Asht-Aru, Watcher: Semetu, Herald: Hu-Kheru
Gate/Arit 2: Gatekeeper: Tun-Hat, Watcher: Seqet-Hra, Herald: Sabes
Gate/Arit 3: Gatekeeper: Am-Huat-Ent-Pehui-Fi, Watcher: Res-Hra, Herald: Uaau
Gate/Arit 4: Gatekeeper: Khesef-Hra—Asht-Kheru, Watcher: Res-Ab, Herald: Neteka-Hra-Khesef-Atu
Gate/Arit 5: Gatekeeper: Ankh-Em-Fentu, Watcher; Ashebu, Herald: Teb-her-Kehaat
Gate/Arit 6: Gatekeeper: Aken-tau-K-ha-Kheru, Watcher: An-Hra, Herald: Metes-Hra-Ari-She
Gate/Arit 7; Gatekeeper: Metes-Sen, Watcher: Aaa-Kheru, Herald: Khesef-Hra-Khemiu

Besides the seven gates, there were smaller gates that the soul needed to pass through. In the ‘Secret Gates of the house of Osiris in Sekhet-Aaru’ there were twenty one gates mentioned  with very long names of the gates, this was maybe to make sure the soul that passed would remember the name of the gate when asked by the gatekeeper. Only ten of the gates mentioned the names of the gatekeeper.

Gate 1: Neb-Setau-Qat-Sebt-Hert-Nebt-Khebkhebt-Sert-Metu-khesefet-Nesheniu-Nemehet-Uai-En-I-Uau, The gatekeeper is Neri

Gate 2: Nebt-Pet-Hent-Taui-Nesbit—Nebt-Tememu-Tent-bu-Nebu, the gatekeeper is Mes-Peh (Mes-Ptah)

Gate 3: Nebt-Khaut-Aat-Aabet-Senetchemet- Neter-Neb-Am-S-Hru-Khent-Er-Abtu, the gatekeeper is Ertat-Sebanqa

Gate 4: Sekhemet-Tesu-Hent-Taui-hetchet-Khefti-Nu-Urt-Ab-Arit-Saru-Shut-Em-Au, the gatekeeper is Nekau

Gate 5: Nebt-Rekhu-Resht-Tebhet-Tatu-An-Aq-Eres-Un-Tep-F, the gatekeeper is Henti-Requ

Gate 6: Nebt-Senket-Aat-hemhemet-An-Rekh-Tu-Qa-S-Er-Usekh-S-An-Qemtu-Qet-S-Em-Shaa-Au-hefu-Her-S-An-Rekh-Tennu-Mes-En-Thu-Kher-hat-urtu-Ab, the gatekeeper is Smamti

Gate 7: Akkit-Hebset-Bak-Aakebit-Mert-Sehap-Khat, the gatekeeper is Akenti

Gate 8: Rekhet-Besu-Akhmet-Tchafu-Sept-Pau-Khat-Tet-Smam-An-Netchnetch- Atet-Sesh-Her-S-Sent-Nah-S, the gatekeeper is khu-Tchef-F

Gate 9: Amt-Hat-Nebt-User-Hert-Ab-Mestet-Neb-S-Khemt-Shaa-…-Em-Shen-S-Satu—Em-Uatchef-Qema-Theset-Bes-hebset-Bak-Feqat-Neb-S-Ra-Neb, the gatekeeper is Tchesef

Gate 10: Qat-Kheru-Nehesert-Tenatu-Sebhet-Er-Qa-En-Kheru-S-Nert-nebt-Shefshef-An-Ter-S-Netet-Em-khennu-S, the gatekeeper is Sekhen-Ur

In the following eleven more gates, there were no gatekeepers mentioned.

Gate 11: Nemt-Tesu-Ubtet-Sebau-Hent-Ent-Sebkhet-Nebt-Aru-Nes-Ahehi-Hru-En-Ankhekh
Gate 12: Nast-Taui-Si-Sekseket-Nemmatu-Em-nehepu-Qahit-Nebt-Khu-Setemth-Kheru-Neb-S
Gate 13: Sta-En-Asar-Aaui-F-Her-S-Sehetchet-Hap-Em-Ament-F
Gate 14: Nebt-Tenten-Khebt-Her-Tesheru-Aru-Nes-Haker-Hru-En-Setemet-Au
Gate 15: bati-Tesheru-Qemhut-Aarert-Pert-Em-Kerh-Sentchert-Seba-Her-Qabi-F-Ertat-Aaui-S-En-Urtu-Ab-Em-At-f-Art-Itet-Shem-S
Gate 16: Nerutet-Nebt-Aatet-khaa-khau-Em-Ba-En-Ret-khebsu-mit-En-Reth-Sert-Per-Qemamet-Shat
Gate: 17: Khebt-Her-Senf-Ahbit-Nebt-Uauiuait
Gate 18: Mer-Setau-Ab-Abtu-Mere-S-Shat-Tepu-Amkhit-Nebt-Aha-Uhset-Sebau-Em-Masheru
Gate: 19: Sert-Nehepu-Em-Aha-S-Ursh-Shemmet-Nebt-Useru-Anu-En-Tehuti-Tchesef
Gate 20: Amt-Khen-Tepeh-Neb-S-Hebs-Ren-S-Ament-Qemamu-S-Thetet-Hati-En-Am-S
Gate 21: Tem-Sia-Er-Metuu-Ari-hemen-Hai-Nebau-S

The different versions of the gates had different ways of treating the dead, in terms of the ceremony, offerings and the special day of doing these ceremonies. This is crucial to help soul pass through the gates.

Being let into the great Court of the Underworld by God Aker: The Aker (Akeru or Akerui) were the two flanking lions facing both ways. Aker is the guardian of sunrise and sunset. Aker guarded the court of the fourteen judges in the ancient Egyptian underworld. The two lions are named, Bakhu facing the sunrise in the eastern side, and Manu facing the sunset in the western side. The two lions were symbolizing two opposite things: the soul’s journey to say goodbye to the life on earth and to welcome the arrival to the underworld.

Addressing a jury of fourteen judges about the deeds during life on earth: The deceased ‘Akh’ addressing the jury started with the Declaration of Innocence:

‘Hail to you, great God, Lord of Justice! I have come to you, my lord that you may bring me so that I may see your beauty, for I know you and I know your name, and I know the name of forty two Gods of those who are with you in this Hall of Justice, who live on those who cherish evil and who gulp down their blood on that day of the reckoning of characters in the presence of Wennefer. Behold the double son of the Songstresses; lord of Truth is your name. Behold I have come to you, I have brought you truth, I have repelled falsehood for you.

About the image above: weighing the heart
against the feather of truth
From the collection of Alexandria Llibrary

I have not done falsehood against men
I have not impoverished my associate
I have done no wrong in the Place of Truth
I have not learnt that which is not
I have done no evil
I have not daily made labor in excess of what was to be done for me
My name has not reached the offices of those who control slaves
I have not deprived the orphan of his property
I have not done what the Gods detest
I have not slandered a servant to his master
I have not cause pain
I have not made hungry
I have not made to weep
I have not killed
I have not turned anyone over to a killer
I have not caused anyone’s suffering
I have not diminished the food offerings in the temples
I have not debased the offering cakes of the Gods

I have not taken the cakes of the blessed
I have not copulated illicitly
I have not been unchaste
I have not increased nor diminished the measure
I have not diminished the palm
I have not encroached upon fields
I have not added to the balance weights
I have not tempered with the plumb bob of the balance
I have not taken milk from a child’s mouth
I have not driven small cattle from their herbage
I have not snared birds for the God’s harpoon barbs
I have not caught fish of their lagoons
I have not stopped the flow of water in its seasons
I have not built a dam against flowing water
I have not quenched a fire in its time
I have not failed to observe the days for haunches of meat
I have not kept cattle away from God’s property
I have not blocked God at his processions

I am Pure. I am pure. I am Pure. I am pure. My purity is the purity of the great phoenix that is in Heracleopolis, because I am indeed the nose of the Lord of Wins who made all men live on that day of completing the sacred eye in Heliopolis in the second month of the winter’slast day, in the presence of the lord of this land. I am he who saw the completion of the Sacred Eye of Heliopolis, and nothing evil shall come into being against me in this land in this Hall of Justice, because I know the name of these Gods who are in it.

Hail Far-strider who came forth from Heliopolis, I have no falsehood.
Hail Fire-embracer who came forth from Kheraha, I have not robbed.
Hail Norsey who came forth from Hermopolis, I have not been rapacious.
Hail Swallower of shades who came forth from the cavern, I have not stolen.
Hail Dangerous One who came forth from Rosetjau, I have not killed men.
Hail Double Lion who came forth from the sky, I have not destroyed food supplies.
Hail Fiery Eyes who came forth from Letopolis, I have done no crookedness.
Hail Flame which came forth from backwards, I have not stolen the God’s offerings.
Hail Bone-breaker who came forth from Heracleopolis, I have not told lies.
Hail Green of flame who came forth from Memphis, I have not taken food.
Hail You of the cavern who came forth from the West, I have not been sullen.
Hail White of teeth who came forth from the Faiyum, I have not transgressed.
Hail Blood eater who came forth from the shambles, I have not killed a sacred bull.
Hail Eater of the entrails who came forth from the House of Thirty, I have not committed perjury.
Hail lord of Truth who came forth from Maaty, I have not stolen bread.
Hail Wanderer who came forth from Bubastis, I have not eavesdropped.
Hail Pale One who came forth from Heliopolis, I have not babbled.
Hail Doubly evil who came forth from Andjet, I have not disputed except concerning my own property.
Hail Wememty-snake who came forth from the place of execution, I have not fornicated with a child.
Hail You who see whom you bring who came forth from the House of Min, I have not misbehaved.
Hail You who are over the Old One who came forth from Imau, I have not made terror.
Hail Demolisher who came forth from Xois, I have not transgressed.
Hail Disturber who came forth from Weryt, I have not been hot tempered.
Hail Youth who came forth from the Heliopolitan nome, I have not been deaf to words of truth.
Hail Foreteller who came forth from Wenes, I have not made disturbance.
Hail You of the altar who came forth from the secret place, I have not hoodwinked.
Hail You whose face is behind him who came forth from the Cavern of Wrong, I have neither misconducted myself nor copulated with a boy.
Hail Hot foot who came forth from the dusk, I have not been neglectful.
Hail You of the Darkness who came forth from the darkness, I have not been quarrelsome.
Hail Bringer of your offering who came forth from Sais, I have not been unduly active.
Hail Owner of Faces who came forth from Nedjefet, I have not been impatient.
Hail Accuser who came forth from Wedjenet, I have not transgressed my nature; I have not washed out the picture of a God.
Hail Owner of Horns who came forth from Asyut, I have not been voluble in speech.
Hail Nefertum who came forth from Memphis, I have done no wrong, I have seen no evil.
Hail Tempsep who came forth from busiris, I have not made conjuration against the king.
Hail You who acted according to your Will, who came forth from Tjebu, I have not waded in water.
Hail Water-smiter who came forth from the Abyss, I have not been loud-voiced.
Hail Prosperer of the Common Folk who came forth from your house, I have not reviled mankind.
Hail Bestower of Good who came forth from the Harpoon nome, I have not been puffed up.
Hail Bestower of Power who came forth from City, I have not made distinctions for myself.
Hail Serpent with raised head, who came forth from the cavern, I am not wealthy except with my own property.
Hail carrier-off of His Portion who came forth from the Silent land, I have not blasphemed god in my city.
(Translated by Allen and Faulkner)

The tests did not stop here, further journey will continue to different parts of the Underworld.

Taken by Anubis to Balance of Truth to weigh his heart for sins: Anubis will lead the deceased Akh to the balancing scale in the Hall of Ma’at, the God of Truth by his right hand while his left hand carries the key of life. On the scale of Truth, appeared the Goddess of Justice, Truth and Order, Ma’at as a symbol of the fair and true balancing scale. For this scene was mentioned in the papyrus of Ani: ‘Pay good heed to the weighing in the balance of the heart of the Osiris, the singing women of Amen, Anhani, whose word is truth, and place thou her heart in the seat of truth in the presence of Great God’.

Anubis is responsible to weigh the heart, the heart of the deceased Ankh kept in a jar and placed in one of the weighing pans and the other side is weighted with the feather of God Ma’at.

Papyrus Ani:
Oh my heart of my being
Do not rise up against me as witness
Do not oppose me in the tribunal
Do not rebel against me before the guardian of the scales
You are my Ka within my body
The Khum who prospers my limbs
Go to the good place prepared for us
Do not make my name stink before them
The magistrates who put peoples in their places
If it is good for us it is good for the judge
It pleases him who renders judgment
Do not invent like before the God
Before the great God, the Lord of the West
Lo, your uprightness brings vindication!

During the weighing of the heart, also appeared Ammit (Ammut) the deity of the funerary. Ammit took the form of hippo-lion and crocodile. His titles were the Heart Eater, Great Dead and the Devourer of the Dead. The most important journey is in this part. The ‘Akh’ need to convince that he is innocent and to make sure that ‘Ammit’ will not swallow the heart of the deceased ‘Akh’. If the heart is swallowed by ‘Ammit’, then the ‘Akh’ will not be able to continue his journey to the Hall of Osiris and his immortality. The ‘Akh’ will be restless forever or ‘to die for the second time’.

If the ‘Akh’ passed in this part of the journey then he will continue his voyage to the next hall.

If the heart wasn’t heavy, brought by Horus to Chief Judge Osiris: The ‘Akh’ will be escorted by Horus to the Hall of Osiris and he will have a ‘question and answer session’ with Thoth the God of Scribe.

From the Book of Dead:

Thoth: ‘Come’, says Thot ‘why have you come?’

Akh: ‘I have come and press forward so that I may be announced’

Thoth: ‘What now is your condition?’

Akh: ‘I am purified from evil things, I am protected from the evil deeds of those who live in their days; I am not amongst them’.

Thoth: ‘Now I will announce you. But who is he whose heaven is fire, whose wall is cobras, and whose floor is a stream of water? Who is he, I say?’

Akh: ‘He is Osiris’

Thoth: ‘Come forward, then, you will be announced to him. Your cakes will come from the Eye of Ra, your beer from the Eye, your meals of the dead from the Eye. This has been decreed for the Osiris the overseer of the house of the overseer of the seal, Nu, triumphant’

After this conversation, then Horus will continue to hold the deceased ‘Akh’ hand to Osiris and identified as one of his followers with good manner and righteous heart. And Horus convinced Osiris that this Akh is pure and asked Osiris to grant him to enter His Hall.  ‘His heart is righteous, and it hath come forth from the Balance; it hath not sinned against any God or any Goddess. Thoth hath weighted it according to the decree pronounced unto him by the Company of the Gods and it is most true and righteous. Grant thou that cakes and ale may be given unto him, and let him appear in the presence of the God Osiris, and let him be like into the Followers of Horus forever and ever’. (Papyrus Ani)

Osiris who is sitting on his throne with the water lily flower growing from the water under his feet and the four sons of Horus stand on the flower, will then receive and accept the ‘Akh’ in the Underworld as Horus followers. Osiris accompanied by Isis and Nepthys. He accepted the presence of the ‘Akh’ because he was pure and has no sins.

Entering the Fields of the Reed (paradise) and get the eternal life: The pure ‘Akh’ then can pass the Hall of Osiris and granted a plot of land to start his life in the afterlife. The ‘Akh’ was also being able to reunite with their family in the afterlife of the underworld, after the seven steps toward the test and judgments then finally the soul to be granted to enter the field of eternity, a place in the blessed land. The ‘Akh’ will now in the place called paradise. Only the immortal souls, the souls that have no sin will occupy this place and granted a piece of slot land of eternal life and be happy forever.

Regional section of the Underworld
According to the Papyrus Nu 1, the ancient Egypt believed that the underworld (heaven and hell) are divided into fourteen Regions called Aat. Each of this Aat presided over by special God.

The names of the regions are:

Aat 1: Amentet
God’s Name: Amsu-Qet or Menu-Qet
In this region a man lived on cake and ale.

Aat 2: Shekhet-Aaru
God’s Name: Ra-Herukhuti
The wall of iron, the wheat here is five cubits high, the barley is seven cubits high and the Spirits who reap them are nine cubits high.

Aat 3: Aatenkhu
God’s Name: Osiris or Ra

Aat 4: Tui-Qaui-Aaui
God’s Name: Sati-Temui

Aat 5: Aatenkhu
God’s Name: Osiris
The Spirits live here upon the inert and feeble

Aat 6: Ammenhet
God’s Name: Sekher-At or Sekher-Remus
This was to the sacred god, the spirits could not find this out and it was accursed for the dead

Aat 7: Ases
Wherein the serpent Rerek lives
A region of burning, fiery flame

Aat 8: Ha-Hetep or Ha Sert
God’s name: Qa-Ha-Hetep or Fa-Pet
A region containing roaring torrents of water

Aat 9: Akesi
God’s Name: Maa-Thetef
A region which is unknown even to the God
Its only inhabitant is the ‘God who dwelleth in his egg’.

Aat 10: Nut-Ent-Qahu or Apt-Ent-Qahu
God’s Name: Nahu, Kapet and Neheb Kahu
The city of Qahu

Aat 11: Atu
God’s Name Sept or Sothis

Aat 12: Unt
God’s Name: Hetemet-baiu or Astchetet-Em-Ament

Aat 13: Uart-Ent-Mu
God’s Name: Hebt-Re-F
A deity of hippopotamus

Aat 14: Kher-Aha
God’s Name: Hap or the Nile
It’s a mountainous region of Kher-Aha, quiet region

The journey of the soul continues to this region according to the fair judgment they receive. In a particular region of their afterlife, the soul will experience a process of self-improvement, depending on what they have done in the real life on earth. Were they helpful, having good conduct, speaking kindly with respect, etc. or were they doing the opposite? The souls will receive progress in the afterlife until such time that they will be born again to a different personality on earth. This will only happen after the time passed in this region of Aat, except for the souls that gain the eternal life, they will never return to this physical realm for rebirth, as they will be granted a place in the field of reeds of Sheket Aaru in the world of Osiris.