Friday, August 31, 2012

The Ethiopian Eunuch

I'm presently working my way through the Acts of the Apostles. I've calculated that the whole of Acts will be completed in 130+ pictures divided into approximately 25+ sets. (That's a very rough guess!)
A few weeks ago I finished illustrating Acts 8, (the Ethiopian Eunuch). The story is retold in 6 pictures. Picture 1 shows Philip approaching the Eunuch's chariot. Picture 2 (above right) shows Philip speaking to the eunuch. Picture 3 shows them traveling and reading the Torah scroll. Picture 4 (below left) shows the chariot stopped at some water.

When I began research for this set I really struggled to find references of an Ethiopian chariot. There was nothing in my book collection, or in my local library, or on the internet! I finally decided to take a look at how other artists had tackled an ethiopian chariot. Some artists had stuck to the traditional, high fronted, Roman type chariot that was entered from the rear. I admit that, when you think of a chariot, it's hard not to think of this particular type! The problem here though is where would the eunuch sit in a Roman chariot? One artist who has used this design showed the eunuch sat on the floor at the rear of the chariot facing backwards with his legs dangling over the edge! This doesn't quite seem appropriate for an ethiopian dignitary!


I eventually came across a depiction of the Ethiopian Eunuch's chariot in a picture by Wilhelm Ebbinghaus. His version of the chariot was particularly interesting - similar to an oxcart in design, (although far more elegant), having two large wheels, forward facing seats, room for a servant stood on a platform at the rear and a driver up front. What was also interesting was that the elaborate ornamentation decorating the chariot was Egyptian in style - as was the clothing worn by the Ethiopian servants. After a little more research I discovered that, after centuries of trading together, there were strong cultural influences shared by the Nubian & Egyptian Kingdoms. I'm not quite sure who influenced who first as I've read conflicting accounts, however there's no doubt that these neighbors had much in common including architecture, (pyramids etc), and the style of dress. I decided to go with Ebbinghaus' basic design but add more of the Egyptian features that I've used in the past.

When drawing the ethiopian eunuch himself I used photographic reference of an ethiopian man as there are distinct differences in the features when comparing Ethiopians to those who inhabit other parts of the African continent. Picture 5 shows Philip baptizing the Ethiopian Eunuch and finally picture 6 shows the eunuch alone with his servants. They're all looking around surprised as Philip has been caught away.

More chariot trivia: Apparently early chariots had four wheels, more like a carriage with larger wheels to the rear. These were used for ceremonial use whereas the, more recognized, two wheeled chariots were used for racing or in battle. The Egyptian ones were very light and could to be carried over rough ground when needed. Look forward to your comments!

6 comments:

Deboraw said...

Graham, I will try again...These look to be nice pictures. Now, how does a body go about ordering your stuff? I must protest that I have a terrible time seeing the two 'words' here. Someone complained about mine awhile back. I guess I'll have to check into the words on mine as well...Also, I like your comments on the pictures you should try to include just a note about the scene?

Bible artist said...

Hi Deboraw
I did get your email and was working my way toward answering it - Yes the two words that you have to type to leave a comment are getting more obscure. Not sure why that is.

We have had requests in the past asking us if we could include a story outline with the picture downloads. If you order a set and you're not sure which parts of the story are illustrated you can always drop me an email.
I'll try to make it clearer.

Deboraw said...

Graham, occasionally there is just a card that I wonder about. One such was under 'God's Providence in the Wilderness'. Apparently there is one card that is to do with complaining. The people don't look happy, and neither does Moses. So where does a person go to order your newer sets, as well as to get a better look at them? I'm still wandering in the wilderness (LOL) at the moment, but will probably be changing to the book of Acts next year. And that's not far away now...sigh.

Sheila Edeliant said...

Hello. I came across your blog, looking for a public domain or creative commons illustration of an Ethiopian chariot for my newest blog post at myBiblechat.com on this very story. That's not exactly what I found here--well, the great illustrations, yes anyway... :) but I am very interested in the discussion here!

I am a Christian artist myself, though I generally do simple, realistic pen and ink line drawings for my Vacation Bible School materials.

It can be quite a challenge sometimes to make an historically accurate drawing! I always do the best I can with the resources I have, but keep my eye out for facts that will help me with more details in future similar works.

I look forward to hearing/seeing more of what you have to share.

~Sheila :)

Bible artist said...

Thanks Sheila, look forward to hearing more from you.

Tio Fausto - Apascentar os Pequeninos said...

Please, I would like to know how to get these graphics?
I'll send you an email!