Priestess of Dhat-Badan

Priestess of Dhat-Badan

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Priestess of Dhat-Badan - 6x6" mixed media portrait.

Dhat-Badan was an Arab Himyarite nature goddess. She ruled over the oasis and the wet season in Yemen, Somalia, and Ethiopia. Arabian Paganism in Ethiopia, where Dhat-Badan was venerated, was displaced in antiquity by the Beta Isreal – African Jews. Later, Islam and then Christianity became the dominant religions in the area.

It is forbidden to invoke her without the presence of a seer or priestess. This, then, is a depiction of a priestess of Dhat-Badan. For the primary reference, I used a very old photograph taken by the French Explorer Jules Borelli. Portrait of a Young Woman (1885-1888) was part of Borelli’s extensive photographic collection. The subject is likely to have been of the Amhara, Oromo, or Sidama ethnic groups.

The goddess Dhat-Badan was referred to as “She of the Wild Goats”. The she-ibex was sacred to her and an island in the Red Sea populated by ibexes was said to be under her protection. I have chosen to depict the Priestess of Dhat-Badan with horns.

Rather than adopt a pattern or motif – one which would certainly have its own meaning – I drew my inspiration from the bold colour blocking found in Ethiopian fabrics, vessels, and baskets. I set the priestess against a background of warm pink, for the hot sun, and dark green, for the vegetation and shade of Dhat-Badan’s wet seasons and tree-circled oasis.


Wood block, pencil, ink, acrylic paint, gel pen, UV resistant acrylic coating.