Daily Archives: Friday, 21 September, 2007

The Holy Weasel of Egypt

First of all, I think “Holy Weasel of Egypt” would be a great band name.

The ichneumon is a mongoose, the largest species of mongoose in Africa. In ancient Egypt, it was the sacred animal of the sometimes snake-headed and sometimes lion-headed goddess Wadjet, protectress of Lower Egypt. A mummified ichneumon was interred inside statues of the goddess.

Here’s a blurb from Wikipedia about the literary or medieval usage of “ichneumon”:

Ichneumon aka Echinemon
The ichneumon is the enemy of the dragon. When it sees a dragon, the ichneumon covers itself with mud, and closing its nostrils with its tail, attacks and kills the dragon. The ichneumon was also considered by some to be the enemy of the crocodile and the asp, and attack them in the same way. The Greek word translated as “ichneumon” was the name used for the “pharaoh’s rat” or mongoose, which attacks snakes; it can also mean “otter”.

Here’s a nice picture of a holy ichneumon statue: http://www.eternalegypt.org/EternalEgyptWebsiteWeb/HomeServlet?ee_website_action_key=action.display.element&story_id=&module_id=&element_id=66028&language_id=1

As for real ichneumons, they look like any old mongoose. If you do a search for a picture of one, be warned that there’s an insect called the ichneumon wasp or the ichneumon fly that isn’t at all fuzzy or cute, and kind of frightening to see when you’re all set to look at pictures of furry animals.

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