The Blue Hedgehog

On Saturday we went to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. It is so many years since I was last there and I had forgotten how rich and wide ranging is the scope of the museum.
I found many more wonderful beasts from all over the world, but the best of all was the small blue Egyptian hedgehog.
We do love our hedgehogs but I had no idea that the Egyptians revered them as symbols of regeneration. In the subdued lighting of the gallery the hedgehog has a certain mystery. The museum’s record, brightly lit and with its measuring scale and all the chips so evident is not quite so magical.

Fitzwilliam Museum photo Faience hedgehog
Tomb 655 Beni Hasan Egypt
length 6.25 cm
width 3.75 cm
Twelfth Dynasty
Middle Kingdom
Date 1976 B.C. — 1793 B.C.

After a bit of research I found quite a few other  Egyptian Hedgehogs. Most surprising is the real and long eared Middle Eastern hedgehog.


This little chap is from Iran: photo Berkah.13.Kookherd from Wikipedia

A quick internet search shows that some ancient hedgehog figures do have long ears.
This little faience amulet is from the Pelizaeus Museum  Hildesheim.


from the Global Egyptian Museum

My initial sketch of the short eared Fitzwilliam Hedgehog more as I saw it, in the tomb like low light of the museum display.


Then some sketches :


And then a quick reduction print:


The Blue Hedgehog


The little blue hedgehog on a windy moonlit evening with swaying palms.
Reduction Lino image 6 x4 inches

Hedgehog Sketches

The sad story…
A while ago now, on a sodden cold evening a neighbour’s dog found a hedgehog under a nearby hedge. I know that a hedgehog out during the day is not a good sign and this one was not well.
We are very fond of hedgehogs and I did my best: a warm hot water bottle wrapped in a towel, water, food, a deep bed of straw and many kind and affectionate words.
I try hard not to be to sentimental about wild animals but it’s tough. Despite my efforts, this little one died in the night and is now buried in a box with a note and a print under the apple tree. ( Sentimental??? Moi???)

…and the opportunity
As a curious artist I also try to think of a dead animal as an opportunity for a study. I am not quite up to popping them in a pan or a bit of taxidermy but study brings both understanding and appreciation.
So these sketches are both an homage and an opportunity to have a closer look at those amazing and beautiful feet with their silken hair and long curved claws.

bg hegehog

RIP Sweet hedgehog… We will be looking out for your relatives next spring.