The Ten Plagues of Egypt in a zine
March 31, 2014 2:28 PM   Subscribe

The Ten Plagues of Egypt in a zine
I've been working for a couple years (slowly and sporadically) on making block cut illustrations for my own Haggadah (that's the book that guides participants through the traditional dinner that Jews have to celebrate Passover). While that project is still ongoing, I finally finished illustrations of the ten plagues that God visited on the Egyptians as punishment for refusing to release the Jews from slavery (according to the book of Exodus). I hand-printed them and put them in a little zine, and I really like how it came out!

Here's some brief explanation for each illustration. For a more background, the Wikipedia page is a good place to start.

Blood: The water in the Nile and in all the Egyptians' wells was turned to blood, which is gross and not potable. There's no indication in the Bible that this caused crocodiles to come out and terrorize the population, but, you know, it might have happened.

Frogs: My girlfriend says this illustration is too random and not as considered as the rest. But how do you express the experience of a plague of frogs? There's no indication that anyone died from this plague; it was just a nuisance. There were frogs everywhere. That's all.

Lice: Also probably didn't cause any deaths, but if you have school-aged children like I do, you know that lice can put the fear of God in someone.

Wild Beasts: Scripture isn't clear on whether it was wild animals or biting flies, but it's fun to illustrate a tiger eating a person. My dad said my print was too unrealistic because there are no tigers in Egypt, but I pointed out that we should not demand realism when we're talking about ancient miracles (see, e.g., parting of the Red Sea).

Livestock Disease: I am very pleased with how these cute dead cows came out.

Boils: I'm even more pleased with this illustration of a Pharaoh. Honestly, I like it better without the boils.

Hail: Part of me thinks that the stylized hailstorm I made for this looks too tame. But it also looks cool.

Locusts: They are surprisingly pretty creatures up close. Part of why this project took so long is because I got distracted and read a whole book about locusts.

Darkness: Ra, the sun god, was the Egyptians' most important deity, so when the Hebrews' God was able to nullify his light-giving power completely, that was a big deal. This print shows the Hebrews' God (the pointing hand) making clouds block Ra's light (he carries the sun on his head with a serpent on top).

Killing of the First-Born: The idea is that the skeleton is the Angel of Death, flying over Egypt, spotting homes not marked with lamb's blood (that was how the Jews were saved from this plague - they knew ahead of time to mark their homes for protection), and bringing death with a downward swoop of its bony hand. I'm not convinced it looks scary enough, but it's not bad.
Role: Artist
posted by Presidente de China (3 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I love the lice illustration! But I'm itchy now...
posted by Juliet Banana at 2:43 PM on March 31, 2014

Very nice!

If you're looking for a "frogs" idea (I agree they are cute) -- maybe frogs in a context that's specifically unexpected and unpleasant? On a dining table, on a bed, in a street, in shoes, all over a road, on a loaf of bread...none of these are great, but maybe you can think of something contemporaneous, simple, and unpleasant.
posted by amtho at 5:09 PM on April 2, 2014

Hey, nice locusts, by the way.
posted by amtho at 5:11 PM on April 2, 2014

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