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[Tidbits] Baboons and Prayers


Baboons… of all the primates of East Africa… are the ones that
most frequently interact with people. They are smart. They are
adaptable. And like us… they are crafty. And we’re their biggest
predator because they are agricultural pests and we consider them
vermin. But here’s the real question: Do they pray?

One walks a precipitous path when meandering along the thin rail of
a fragile fence… arms outstretched to maintain one’s balance…
talking about prayer and baboons to the world. One has to keep one’s
wits on the alert.

But here’s the unalterable conundrum: Do baboons pray? And if so…
pray tell… when… and in what culture was this discovered? Which
brings us… uh-oh… tread lightly young man… to why they pray.
Is it an act of empathy uniting them as a whole to their simian
society? Or is it simply a learned posture they adopted when they
saw one of their elders doing the very same thing? You be the judge.

We’re back in the days of Tutankhamun. A pendant was found within
his mummy wrappings. It has on top a sky sign made of dark blue Lapis
Lazuli with a sea of primordial waters below also made of Lapis
Lazuli. Below this ornament there is attached a chain made of
gorgeous openwork symbols of protection and long life and dominion.
It is made of gold and Semi- Precious stones.

Below is the main ornament… a solar boat encased in a rectangle
showing Heh, lord of eternity, and the Shen… symbol of protection.
Within the solar boat there resides a lapis scarab… flanked on
either side by two baboons… their hands raised in prayer or praise.
This is also not that clear. I vote for prayer as there’s a strong
intimation in that direction.

This pendant is drop-dead stunning. It is artisan work at its best.
It is 41 centimeters long and 11.5 centimeters wide. I cropped the
chain for easier viewing. As to whether or not they’re actually
praying… well… you be the judge. Or are we the only ones?

For those of you who are new to this thing called Tidbits…may I
direct you to my home page at where you
will scroll down the left side menu till you get to the area that
says Current Tidbits… click it… and you will see represented on
our pages an image of a pendant decorated with praying baboons.

And there ya have it. That’s it for this week folks.

Catch you all next week.
Benjamin Mark


Whether or not baboons pray is a subject of much dispute since they
would be the ones that know and they aren’t telling but they have
been known to screech at the sight of the morning sun over the
horizon. Perhaps they don’t like change. Perhaps they don’t want the
night to be over. Perhaps they just want a cuppa joe or the ancient
Egyptian equivalent… In ancient Egypt baboons have been depicted as
representing the moon (hence the crescent moon and the full moon
over their heads) and worshipping the sun (hence the carnelian? cab
being pushed by the scarab (the setting sun across the
sky)…something like in this pendant. The moon was not considered to
be as important as the sun - perhaps this is why there are two of
them. Baboons are often seen on ancient papyruses and on walls
worshipping the sun god Re. The mythology of the baboon is laced with
lust, power and destruction. The baboon posture here is that of
squatting, and the baboon is named Isdes, a protective form of Thoth
(Egyptian gods are fluid and rather like changelings) and assisted in
the underworld (the light in the darkness) in the judgement hall. As
such, the baboon god was often petitioned in written form. A troop of
sacred baboons was kept in Memphis and one would have been chosen to
be an oracular. Of course if one of the baboons were to be walking in
Memphis with his feet ten feet off of Beale and met Reverend Green
who would have been glad to see him when he hadn’t got a prayer,
because that baboon has a prayer in Memphis. Whether he would pray
it or not is anybody’s guess. Perhaps. (with apologies to Marc Cohn -
couldn’t resist)



Once again you amaze. Exceptional writing. Exceptional object. My
guess is the baboons are showing reverence for a higher being. It
may be the wearer of the pendant. It may be the God worshiped by the
wearer. Since the Egyptian culture believed in the after life, my
guess is the God worshiped by the wearer, and the wearer is hopeful
for continued life after passing from this world.

Many thanks, MA