RealmgART: The Goddess Malketa

Goddess of the Sky & ancient patron of the Duchy of Tanith.

To recap briefly: The Duchy of Tanith is equal parts an Emirate of Granada (mostly geographically) and an Ancient Carthage (mostly culturally; somewhat geopolitically) that never fell and continues to exist as an independent polity in basically the 1620s.

The political situation on the Sea's Edge peninsula.
That’s Tanith in purple at the bottom of the peninsula, basically where real Granada is in real Spain.

Fundamentally, Tanith has a Carthaginian, Semitic culture and belief system (to the extent it’s possible to depict that in an Early Modern Fantasy world…) — even the name Tanith comes from the name of an ancient Carthaginian goddess.

All of this is to say, the Tanithite patron goddess Malketa takes more than a few cues from real-life Semitic religion.

She looks like this.

Art of the goddess Malketa" a woman in purple standing on a cloud, holding the Sun and Moon.

If you squint, there are vaguely Christian, “woman with the Sun and Moon” parallels here, which admittedly aren’t intentional.

There’s no particular symbolism here other than to indicate that she’s a Sky Goddess. And, again, while “Queen of Heavenis a Marian title, it’s also a much older, very widespread title for important Semitic deities.

In Malketa’s case, it’s fairly literal. Again, she’s a sky goddess. Heaven (qua “the sky”) is literally what she’s the Queen of.

In fact, the name “Malketa” is just the Syriac word for “queen” (with maybe just a bit or massaging for the sake of ease of pronunication). Again, that’s fairly representative of actual ancient Semitic religion. “Baal” (lord) is included in a lot of deity names or titles, or used as a standalone name for a deity.

Art of the goddess Malketa" a woman in purple standing on a cloud, holding the Sun and Moon.

Now, in terms of the actual artist decisions of the image, it sort of ended up looking like a fresco, which I ended up leaning into as it started to develop. Granted, I haven’t found a lot of examples or surviving Carthaginian painting — perhaps not surprised that Carthage was pretty much levelled, left in ruins for a century, and rebuilt as a Romanised city (destined, as it happens, to become the home of St. Augustine several centuries later; he would prove to not be a fan of the city)

Her overall appearance is fairly stylised, but I tried to make her look at least vaguely Phoenician. She’s wearing purple, which is a long-standing emblem of royalty. Although that shade of purple isn’t Tyrian Purple (which is actually more of a red), the real-world etymology for “Phoenician” (and “Punic“) is tied to the word for “purple” and/or “red”, though it’s unclear if the Phoenicians were named for the dye, or the dye was named for the Phoenicians.

And, of course, worth noting that “Phoenician” is the Greco-Roman name for the Phoenicians. The general understanding is that the Phoenicians, being a fairly widespread, localised culture referred to themselves by specific city of origin and may have referred to themselves as a whole as “Canannites.”


To recap: Purple = Status.

Again, she’s a sky goddess, hence the Sun, Moon, and Cloud. Her pose is kinda-sorta reminiscent of the actual Carthaginian Sign of Tanit, which is a highly-abstract image of the goddess.

I think this is one of my favourite drawings, which is particularly impressive because I basically just Centipede’s Dilemma’d the whole thing.

A pair of reminders for you now.

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Promotional art for the YA Fantasy giveaway.
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