Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day XCIX - Sha


Egyptian canid,
Square-eared symbol of Set,
Tail like a fork.


Understood to be a wild dog or jackal-like creature, the Sha is an auspicious entity of ancient Egyptian mythology associated with Set (god of darkness, chaos and the desert). Calling the North African Saharan home, the Sha is said to be black or red and has a slender body like a greyhound, a pair of perpetually stiff rectangular ears and a firm tail that's forked at the end. As a divine representation of Set's power, the creature can be found in hieroglyphs and archaeological remains lasting from antiquity and was adopted as an icon of several emperors and cults of the desert god. Sadly, in periods when Set was unpopular the Sha's standing likewise suffers, so depictions of the angular dog dies cease after the Third Intermediate Period. Linked with stories of the mysterious Salawa ("scary wolf") dog-beast that allegedly stalks the Egyptian desert, the wonderfully-named Sha is intriguing as a legendary animal purely for its idiosyncratic ever-erect ears and triton tail. For those features alone, the ancient Egyptian desert dog of divine significance deserves some veneration.

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