The Creation of Shyann!

by Cassandra Hill
Author and Illustrator Cassandra Hill in Action

Egypt has always intrigued and fascinated me in many ways.  The book, Ancient Egypt Revealed by Peter Chrisp page 6 taught me that Egyptians created one of the earliest and most influential civilizations (known to man).  They invented writing and were the first people to record their own history.  A calendar, dividing the year into 12 months, and day and night into 24 hours, was created by Egyptians.  By Africans.  It’s fascinating that the Egyptian society has existed 1,000 years longer than Christianity.  They are an over 5000-year-old society. 

They were the first to embalm their dead and their mummies were preserved for over 3000 years. Hieroglyphics depicted a society with elaborate funerals. Kings, queens, and pharaohs were buried with their valuable jewelry, weapons, and riches, believing that they would need those things to live in their afterlives.  They forged their own religions, having not the benefit of Christ, to worship deities like the sun, the bull, the lion, the cat, and even the hawk. Some gods were even mixed having the body of a lion and the head of a ram.   Be they right or wrong in those religious beliefs, they strongly believed in the afterlife and searched to worship something bigger than themselves.  They searched for a creator.  They worshiped over a hundred different gods and some were created by kings and queens like Queen Nefertiti, wife of King Akhenaten, who ruled long after his death.  It was they who created the Sun God, Aten, and commanded their people to worship.  

Cats were revered as protectors.  Lions symbolized immortality.  The cat goddess Bastet was a local deity during the time of Nefertiti c. 1352 -1336 BC.  Bastet was regarded as the daughter of the sun god.  She was described as having gentle and fierce aspects.  She is epitomized with the protective aspects of motherhood.  So, she was regarded as the mother of Kings. Originally shown or depicted with the head of a lioness, she was later shown with the head of a domestic cat, Ancient Egypt, by Lorna Oakes & Lucia Gahlin Pages 228-229.   I found it interesting that she wore earrings.  Often her statues were made watching over her children, kittens.  Yet another depiction of motherly love.

Later, when I wanted to create my own superhero, I thought of Queen Nefertiti with her majestic crown, bejeweled corselet and Ankh, the symbol of life and considered to be an amulet.  Crosslets were worn by both men and women and they often had symbols within them that were of great value to the one who wore them. 

 I wanted my character to symbolize strength, love, and compassion for others.  I wanted a queen that could also have the power to save the day when needed.  She must be fun, smart, and artful.  I wanted my character to travel by magic carpet and be anthropomorphic.  After searching for an artist for 6 years, my father encouraged me to create Shyann myself.  “Who me?” I said in disbelief.  I painted portraits of people at that time.  I had never attempted a cartoon.  “Why not you?” Daddy asked. “But, no. I want her to be perfect.”  I didn’t want to fail at my attempt to create something wonderful and someone that kids would be able to fall in love with.   “Kids aren’t looking for perfect.  They’re looking for you to read to them,” my father said confidently.  So much so, that his wisdom enlightened my soul.  Inspired, I wanted to try.  So, I began drawing Shyann myself. I gave her earrings in the shape of the ankh and a bejeweled corselet with a fish in the center.  YUMMY!  She had an infectious smile and sometimes goofy grin that could be adored by children everywhere.  I gave her green piercing eyes that invite children to friendship, fantasy, and fun.  I wanted her to represent the BC society of Egypt Africa, next to the Nile, with all its majestic beauty and pyramids that still baffle people of their creation.   And thus, we now have Shyann to enjoy.  And maybe, just maybe, kids will also want to learn about that wonderful Egyptian society in Africa as well. 

You may also like