Medjed
The image depicts the Egyptian deity, Medjed, who appears as an oculated dome, supported by two human-like feet.
A depiction of Medjed based on the Greenfield papyrus. The original papyrus illustrations are colourless outlines.

In Ancient Egyptian religion, Medjed (Egyptological: mḏd) is a minor deity[a] mentioned in certain copies of the Book of the Dead. While not much is known about the deity, his ghost-like depiction in the Greenfield papyrus has earned him popularity in modern Japanese culture, and he has appeared as a character in video games and anime.

In the Book of the Dead

The Book of the Dead is made up of a number of individual Ancient Egyptian funerary texts with accompanying illustrations. They are in general written on papyrus and were used from the earliest period of the New Kingdom (c. 1550 BCE) until around 50 BCE. These texts consist of magic spells, some of which are to grant the dead person mystical knowledge in the afterlife, or to give them control over the world around them through their journey in the Duat, or underworld.[4]

Of the Book of the Dead copies that have been found, a limited number reference an obscure entity in spell 17b named "Medjed" (also spelled "Metchet"),[5] which means "The Smiter".[1][6] In an English translation of the Papyrus of Ani, Raymond O. Faulkner renders the portion of the spell referring to Medjed as follows:

I know the name of that smiter [i.e., Medjed] among them who belongs to the House of Osiris, who shoots with his eyes, yet is unseen. The sky is encircled with the fiery blast of his mouth and Hāpi makes report, yet he is unseen.[7]

Apart from this short passage, nothing is known about Medjed.[8] Hermann Grapow proposed that Medjed could refer to a star (given that Medjed is said to radiate light and to have a connection with the cyclical flooding of the Nile), but as Ilaria Cariddi notes, the name is never written with a star determinative.[9]

Visual depictions

According to Illaria Cariddi, visual representations of Medjed can be found on only nine papyrus scrolls, all of which date to around the time of Egypt's Twenty-first Dynasty (1077–943 BCE).[10] These scrolls (of which the Greenfield papyrus is arguably the most well-known)[8][11][12] are as follows:

Papyrus Date Location Citation
Papyrus Bodmer 101 Twenty-first Dynasty Bodmer Foundation [13][14]
Papyrus Bodmer 102 Twenty-first Dynasty Bodmer Foundation [13][14]
Papyrus Turin 1818 Twenty-first Dynasty Museo Egizio [13][14]
Papyrus Bodmer 100 Mid-Twenty-first Dynasty Bodmer Foundation [13][14]
Papyrus London BMEA 9948 Mid-Twenty-first Dynasty British Museum [13][14]
Papyrus Cairo S.R. VII 10222 Mid- or late Twenty-first Dynasty Egyptian Museum [13][14]
Papyrus Cairo JE 95658 Late Twenty-first Dynasty Egyptian Museum [13][14]
Papyrus Cairo JE 95637 Late Twenty-first Dynasty Egyptian Museum [14][15]
Papyrus Greenfield Late Twenty-first Dynasty/
Early Twenty-second Dynasty
British Museum [14][16]

In these scrolls, Medjed is depicted as a dome with eyes, supported by two human-like feet. A few scrolls also portray the deity with a red knotted belt above or below his eyes.[17] The scholars E. A. Wallis Budge, H. Milde, and Mykola Tarasenko have argued that Medjed's dome-like torso is either a shroud or a "shapeless body" that symbolizes the deity's imperceptible nature,[18][19][20] and Cariddi has proposed that Medjed's prominent eyes and legs could signify that he can "see, move and act even though humans cannot perceive him".[21] In contrast, Bernard Bruyère and Terence DuQuesne have contended that Medjed is actually a personification of an oil jar, and that his red "belt" is actually a stylized lid fastener.[21][22][23]

In popular culture

After the Greenfield papyrus illustrations were exhibited in 2012 at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo and the Fukuoka Museum of Art, Medjed became an internet meme on Japanese social media, thanks largely to his "cartoon ghost"-like appearance.[24][25][26][27] He has since entered into Japanese popular culture and has appeared in video games (e.g., Fate/Grand Order)[25][28] and anime (e.g., Kamigami no Ki and Oh, Suddenly Egyptian God).[28][29][30]

In the 2016 Japanese video game Persona 5, his name is used for a fictional antagonistic hacker group that describe themselves as the "true executors of justice".[31]

Gallery

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Medjed is sometimes referred to as a "demon".[1] However, unlike the contemporary understanding of demons as purely malevolent supernatural entities, the term is often used by Egyptologists in reference to a variety of supernatural entities, including ghosts, evil or benevolent spirits, minor deities, representations of chaos, and even "personifications of the destructive aspects of the [major] gods".[2][3]

References

Citations

  1. ^ a b Cariddi (2018), p. 197.
  2. ^ te Velde (1975), pp. 980-984.
  3. ^ Lucarelli (2010), pp. 1–7.
  4. ^ Taylor (2010), p. 51–56
  5. ^ Budge (1898), pp. 55–56.
  6. ^ Kytnarová et al. (2018), pp. 15-19.
  7. ^ Andrews & Faulkner (1985), p. 48.
  8. ^ a b Taylor, John H. (22 September 2010). "What is a Book of the Dead?". British Museum. Archived from the original on 17 April 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  9. ^ Cariddi (2018), p. 203.
  10. ^ Cariddi (2018), pp. 197–200.
  11. ^ Salvador (2017), p. 11.
  12. ^ Cariddi (2018), pp. 201–202.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Cariddi (2018), p. 197.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i Brugière, Sébastien (14 July 2021). "Sur la trace du dieu Medjed" (in French). Bodmer Foundation. Archived from the original on 4 April 2023. Retrieved 4 April 2023.
  15. ^ Cariddi (2018), pp. 197, 200.
  16. ^ Cariddi (2018), p. 200.
  17. ^ Cariddi (2018), pp. 197, 201.
  18. ^ Budge (1912), p. 13.
  19. ^ Milde (1991), p. 44.
  20. ^ Tarasenko (2012), p. 385.
  21. ^ a b Cariddi (2018), p. 203.
  22. ^ Bruyère (1939, pp. 182–185, 190, 192.
  23. ^ DuQuesne (2008), p. 19.
  24. ^ Cariddi (2018), p. 204.
  25. ^ a b "Meet Medjed, The Egyptian God Who's Big in Japan!". Tor.com. 7 August 2015. Archived from the original on 20 December 2020. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  26. ^ Stimson, Eric (31 July 2015). "The Obscure Egyptian God Medjed and His Bizarre Afterlife on the Japanese Internet". Anime News Network. Archived from the original on 8 December 2020. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  27. ^ Salvador (2017), p. 11.
  28. ^ a b Salvador (2017), pp. 17–18.
  29. ^ "Egyptian God Medjed Stars in New TV Anime Series Starting in November". Anime News Network. 25 October 2010. Archived from the original on 13 May 2021. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  30. ^ Mateo, Alex (20 November 2020). "Tōtotsu ni Egypt Kami Net Anime Reveals Extended Promo Video, December 7 Premiere". Anime News Network. Archived from the original on 24 November 2022. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
  31. ^ "August 21 – Persona 5 Guide". IGN. August 16, 2020. Retrieved October 28, 2023.

Bibliography