Ancient Egypt: History and culture
Ancient Egyptian texts: The Pleasures of Fishing and Fowling
Main menu Main Index and Search Page History List of Dynasties Cultural Chronolgy Mythology Aspects of Life in Ancient Egypt Glossary of ancient Egyptian terms Herodotus on the Pharaohs Ancient Egyptian Reader Apologia and Bibliography
  For best results save the whole webpage (pictures included) onto your hard disk, open the page with Word 97 or higher, edit if necessary and print.
  Printing using the browser's print function is not recommended.


The Pleasures of Fishing and Fowling

What are [the activities] of my [beloved] like? Something big has begun in her. One has said [/// /// /// ///] emerging from [the /// ///] of my brothers (?), who was in decay and lack [///////////], set afire (?) for me and emerging [///////////]. On a beautiful day we are on our way to the marshes (in order to) catch fowl and [in]numerable fish in the two waters. A fisher and fowler and a harpooner join us, so that we are able to draw tight the ropes (of the trap). [////] our papyrus boat. By a shrub we land (in order) to place (offerings) on the fire for Sobek, lord of the Lake, [/////], the ruler l.p.h. (It is) a beautiful day on which we offer to everyone. Our field goddess is satisfied, we shall bring (back prey). We shall [/////]. We shall trap (prey) among the thousands of fowl. We shall make a brazier for Sobek, made wider and longer [than before (?)]. Roast is on it, consisting of wDj-fish and sr-geese. sr-geese are lying in the fire (and) dSr-fish are lying in [////// as a] real [offering] of feathers and fish scales. - Middle Kingdom
The 18th dynasty copy of this text translated here is very fragmentary and often difficult to make sense of. I have dropped many of the smaller fragments, which add little or nothing to the understanding of the text.
-beautiful day: or holiday
-fisher and fowler: wHa, written with the hieroglyph of the fishing boat and of a man. I have sometimes rendered it either as "fowler" or as "fisher". wHa, fishing and fowling, contains both the bird and the fish hieroglyph.
-draw tight the ropes (of the trap): cf. trapping fowl
-field goddess: Sekhet
-Sobek: crocodile god, cult centre in the Fayum.
-wDj-fish ... sr-geese etc: untranslated words have unknown or doubtful meaning. On Transliteration and pronunciation of ancient Egyptian
-feathers and fish scales: fowl and fish
There is no one who would think of food after descending [to the marsh land]. [I am content with] that on which I lived yesterday: a meal which I have brought with me. I live on eggs and honey. [After a successful hunt I shall have] fish from my harpoon and fowl from my net. ///////////// We spend the night fishing [////////] the meal which we have brought with us //////////. How beautiful is your face, O Iniseni! We receive ////////// live in the nooks. There we live among the grasses ///////// grass, alone by my country-house, empty [/// /// /// ///]-water. When you journey downriver your heart is glad. Your crew has approached (?) [///////////] the papyrus boat in which we drift downriver to my country-house. ///////-plants. There is no opening. (They ?) spend the night in hiding. ////// people who are courageous ///////. We spend our summer there; drinking /////// fish scales. -eggs: eggs are only rarely mentioned to as food.
-nooks: qaH.w bends, corners etc.
-Hnj: The Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae suggests "a plant of the marshes (a sedge ?)"
My head is covered with a lock of hair. I shall make myself a wreath of ///////////////. I build my cabin with juniper wood. I roof it over with coniferous wood. [I ///////] foreign land //// at the entrance of the marshland, (so that) I may watch the children from House-of-the-Cattle throwing (throw sticks) at the wjA.t-birds. Every woman estimates by sight her fowls before they have dropped down.
I sit down in a clearing. I prepare for myself a shelter, after I have fastened my bait. I am in the cool; my fish are in the sun. I can see whatever is in my field of view (?), (but) it cannot see me. The fish is before the spear. I kill again and again, there being no end for my (harpoon) shaft. I shall fill bags with white Nile perch. The gutting (of fish) is not agreeable to me. My [?] of the food [///] as meal for our [////].
-House-of-the-Cattle: town in 3rd nome of Lower Egypt
-I kill again and again: The Egyptians thought of hunting in terms of slaughter, see also below: thousands [of birds](will) fall or the great royal hunts.
My lord, my lord, spend the night under the shelter. Success is granted to him who hauls in the net [on the island] of the middle when the land grows bright. The goddess of the fields has favoured you, your (throw) sticks have favoured you. All the marshes are green, so that the marshland can nourish you. Moored on the islands, it was difficult for you there. After we have done away with one problem and fettered another, all fowlers of the older generation say: "Would that I were with him, this capable fowler."
Then your god will be delighted because of you, (when) you appear and throw light on The-Ones-Being-in-their-Hills (snakes). Then you will see the fastening (?) of the doors of the Snakes-with-the-Tail-in-the-Mouth. [I (?)] am sitting on beams (?) in the middle of the water. [The] top [is ////// made of plants (?)]. Both sides are nstjw-plants. Reeds are behind me as a wall of mats. My lower part is covered (?) [/// /// /// ///]. A flock of birds passes by, (and) there is no end to it. The birds startled into rising [//////////] his pintail ducks. The only one of the bird marshes which is in the canal [///////] I witness her voice. -Snakes-with-the-Tail-in-the-Mouth: snakes coiled up with their tails in their mouths were symbols for eternity. The meaning of the whole sentence is unclear.
The fowler belonging [//////////] for his fowl. He who gives resin (?) to him who is rich in birds [////////////] rope. I have fastened my tptj-part of the boat [////////////] knowledgeable in the marshes as well. My own heart has blinked (?) [//////] far from [/////////] my poles for the weights (at the bottom of a net) [////////] lets approach ///// I am remote. The sun is [////////] The evening makes me come close. I spend the day calling him who is in the marsh. [////////] hesitate [/////] I grasp my rope wound around my shoulder. I have come [/////] defies [//////] Grey geese by the entrance (?) of the [///]-hill. I spend the day tying (knots of the net), thousands [of birds] (will) fall [////] before me. The mistress will weave (a net ?) for me as [///////]. Have you seen [///////] gifts. Great(er) is he who repeats gifts than [////////] of the marsh. He does not know the number which [he] has brought [////////] and white-fronted geese. The Egyptians knew a number of methods for catching fish: angling with single and multiple lines, harpooning, the use of nets and weir-baskets. (Cf. Fishing)
-thousands [of birds] (will) fall: see above
A beautiful day, my rope is on the path. The shelter [/////////] catch. [////] cannot become [//////]. We [walk through (?)] the marshland /////////////////////// He is sitting together with his crew inside the shelter [and has] success (?). Where the fowler and fisher is concerned who does not move to the town, he lives in plenty. Would that I still lived in [the country.] [Then I could do] things which my heart desires, just as it was when the marshland was my abode, when the summit (?) of the marsh was [my residence]. -abode:
[I can]not [remain far from] the people after whom my heart hankers, my friends. I would like to spend the day in the place of [my] yearnings (?). [I would like ///// in the pa]pyrus. When day breaks I would like to eat, to be far away, to go to my favourite place.
[But] on the second and on the fifteenth day of the month I go to the river, I go down to the lake. The props are on my shoulder, my poles on the back of my arm (?), two cubits and five hands (of rope ?) are in my armpit. My attention is (concentrated on) pulling the five cubits of the cord which is in my hand. The water is flowing slowly (?). The thick cloth (used for signalling) held in the hand (pointing) towards the pond, we see it fall. We have heard the clamour of its flock of birds, we trap it in the net.
-cubits: a cubit measured about half a metre.
-hands: a hand was about nine centimetres.
Trappng birds
Trapping water fowl
4th dynasty, Gizeh
Adapted from Lepsius, Denkmäler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien
The thicket (?) and/of the of the [//////////]. We have /////// six hours. The end has come and gone in your forgetfulness (?). Who is sitting in [////////]. Behold, [////////]. He is eating in/of the great marsh. [/////////////] When I am in the dark, I sleep in the shelter [//////] the threshing floor (?) for pine seeds (?) with kAwtj-animals [//////////]
The one cannot divide [while the other] knots together [////////] region, my face towards the waves. //////////////// I spend the day in the shrubbery (?) //////// soil. I place it under my head (?) /////////
gm.w-plants, sxt-meat, [///]-seeds as nourishment of the fisher and fowler. Wide [/////] are they [///] for me among the marsh plants. My mate is in town, turned towards /////// as decoy ////////// I spend the night with you //////// both feet towards the south //////// the heads towards the north. The sky is windy (?). My (?) reed boat ////////. Come with //// my [friend (?)] to the camping site of Lower Egypt. I shall take care that one will eat ////////// of (?) I shall take care that fish without [bones] and fowl without feathers will be eaten.. How guilty you are, Inuseni! /////////// as fowl without feathers. /////// with ointment, unguent ///(?) food. ///// go around (?) the sleeping place ////// msy.t-birds //// hall ///// servant girl keeping an eye on ////// neglecting your need ///// spend the evening //////// shooting female hippos, the bull is making //////// in the marsh. The fish have come to ///// Our reed boat emerges ///////// to the place [with] big fish /////// Your //// is cool in its place of treating the fish (?). You cut (the fish) open with a bronze (knife), you gut ///// in front of me.
-mate: lit. female peer
I would like to teach you about the Sea of Sobek, the western land ///////// a place named ///, Metuni, Yat, the marshland of Tepni /////// the marshland of Menit, Xois /////// the region of the Manzala lake, Avaris, Rekhti, the upper temple, the Way-of-Horus ///////
//// Small is the suffering thereof (of the fowler ?). The tent is open for the fowler. ////// The fowler cannot bear seeing misery //// Everywhere is your marsh. The mouth of the river is full of [your] fishers and fowlers ////// which I take care of for you.
Behold, the islands in the middle are full of your herdsmen. The taste //////////// mates ///////// kills his companions ////////// travelling by land /////////// bulti-fish ////////// with weapons ////////// reeds, marshes /////// to the marsh, heavy ///////// arm winding with //////// We have ///// white bread in our arms /////// north wind //////// of the lake ///////// shine on the bank ////// plants ////// I make these ////////////// she took //////// beginning in the east ///////////// lake of birds (?) //////// to the papyrus boat. Come, (woman) //////// quails /////////
-Sea of Sobek: the Fayum
-the marsh land of Tepni: in the 9th nome of Lower Egypt
-marsh land of Menit: in the 15th nome of Lower Egypt
-Xois: in the 6th nome of Lower Egypt
-Manzala lake: in the 14th nome of Lower Egypt
-Rekhti: between Mendes and Tanis
-Way-of-Horus: fortress on the north-east border of Egypt
-bulti-fish: tilapia nilotica

After a transliteration and German translation on the Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website
P. Dils ed., Altägyptisches Wörterbuch, Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Leipzig => 2. Reden und Dialoge => The Pleasures of Fishing and Fowling => pMoskau o.Nr. (Pleasures of Fishing)


- -Index of Texts
-Index of Topics
-Main Index and Search Page

Feedback: Please report broken links, mistakes - factual or otherwise, etc. to me.Thanks.

© June 2007