Every photographer loves the golden hour, that special time between dusk and dark. Sunsets can be spectacular, unusual and surreal. Since I just got back from Page Arizona to photograph the natural beauty of the area, including of course Horseshoe Bend at sunset, I have decided to collect a few of my favorite sunsets from around the world. Not all sunsets depend on color to make them spectacular, although Horseshoe Bend might be the exception. Often it is the subtle interplay of light and dark, the delicate colors rather than flashy vibrance and it is always about that soft light that fills our senses as the embers of the day play out.
Hapi (Hep, Hap, Hapy) was probably a predynastic name for the Nile, and the name was later changed to the Nile or iterw, simply meaning “the river”. Thus the Nile God became “the river” or iterw while Hapi then became the god of the annual flooding of the Nile in ancient Egyptian religion. The name “Nile” comes from the Greek corruption “Neilos” of the Egyptian “nwy” which means water. He was mentioned in the Pyramid Texts (“who comest forth from Hep”) where he was to send the river into the underworld from certain caverns located at the first cataract. The annual flood deposited rich silt (fertile soil) on the rivers banks, allowing the Egyptians to grow crops or flooded too much and washed away their mudbrick homes. Hapi was the mighty one in his cavern, whose true name was unknown. He was “lord of the fishes and birds of the marshes” who “greens the two banks”. He was the “maker of barley and wheat”, the “master of the river bringing vegetation”. Like the Greek and Roman Gods that followed, he had a good personae as the God of plenty but also had a dark side as an unpredictable destructive God, hopefully influenced by the pharoah who was himself a living god. He was also considered a “friend of Geb” the Egyptian God of the earth, and the “Lord of Neper”, the God of grain.
I visited the Nubia museum when I visited Aswan. Nubia was known on the Nile for its vast resources, such as ebony, ivory, copper, minerals, carnelian and most importantly gold. In the first dynasty Nubia was known to the Egyptians as “Ta Sety,” the “Land of the Bow,” because of the fame of Nubian archers. It was later called Kush/Cush until the fourth century AD when the name Nubia came into general use due to the Noba people, nomads who settled the area in the 4th century, with the collapse of the Kingdom of Meroë. Nubia stretched over 1,000 miles along the Nile River, beginning at the first cataract, and like Egypt it was a land defined by the river. Surrounded by a harsh desert environment, the river supported Nubian culture and economy. Nubia formed a trade corridor along the River Nile, linking continental Africa through Egypt to the Mediterranean. It has been suggested that the origin of the word 'Nubia' might be nbw, the Egyptian word for gold. The relationship between Nubia and Egypt was complex, involving military raids, expeditions and conquest by the Egyptians, subjugation in turn of Egypt by Nubia based kings, pharaohs of Nubian origin, trade interactions and cultural influence both ways from the earliest times and down through the centuries. In the words of Osama Abdel Meguid, Director of the Nubia Museum, “They dealt like Egyptians, they dressed like Egyptians, but they were still proud of their black faces.”
For nearly as long as I remember I have wanted to go sailing on the Nile river. I have done some sailing in the past and I find it to be both relaxing and a way to get a different perspective on any place bordering a body of water. In the case of Aswan, and in fact in all of Egypt, the Nile is not just a river, it is the artery carrying the lifeblood of the nation and virtually all life revolves around it. The sailboat shown above is called a felucca, a traditional wooden sailing boat used in the protected waters of the Red Sea and eastern Mediterranean including Malta, and particularly along the Nile in Egypt, Sudan, and also in Iraq. They are usually able to hold ten passengers and the crew consists of two or three people. The felucca has remained, over the centuries, the primary transportation of the Nile. Its ancient form still graces the river as it has done since the time of the Pharaohs. Motorized barges transport bulk material and modern cruise ships transport tourists, but the felucca remains despite modern alternatives. The felucca rarely has any form of engine and relies entirely on the breeze which builds during the day and usually subsides at night, and the Nile River's current. Egypt is blessed with a predominant southerly wind that pushes sailboats upriver, while allowing them to return on its current downstream.