The Fifth Element: The design of the Mondoshawan references the Papyrus of Ani's Henu-Barque?

leading from
The Henu Barque trail through the 20th century.
The Fifth Element: The design of the Mondoshawan 
The Mondoshawan from The Fifth Element

a) Jacques Rey would create the final concept design for the Mondoshowan for the 1997 film "The Fifth Element". It shows signs of referencing the Henu Barque from the Papyrus of Ani, with the small head of this entity based on the antelope/oryx head?

b) The bottom of collar would be loosely based on the frill around the falcon head at the top of the frame with pillars and the row of vertical lines along the belly would be loosely based on the row of line at the going across the upper part of the pillars.

c) Having said that, it does look as if the small animal head on the fan has been interpreted as ribcage and then the horns might become the curve leading over the top of the body on the back, and it doesn't really take much thought to have a vertical ribbing effect across the belly area, but still it fits with the vertical lines along the upper half of the three pillars.
 The Henu Barque from The Papyrus of Ani version of
the Egyptian Book of the Dead at the British Museum
(See: Henu Bark in the Papyrus of Ani )

d) Meanwhile the fan going down behind the antelope had becomes the arm of the Mondoshawan, with the small bull horns being the position of an eye like oval, and so the patterns on the lower arms instead of being horizontal strips are turned into vertical strips. Meanwhile the curve of the antelope becomes the starting points of the arms.
An attempt to construct a Mondoshawan purely from a Henu Barque image, 2020


e) Perhaps the white light at the groin might be based on the presence of the pale pillow like forms.

f) Sylvain Despretz sat next to Jacques Rey when they were working in the Fifth Element art department/office. They were using the same reference material but Sylvain didn't notice anything to do with the Egyptian book of the dead, but still we have an Egyptian temple exterior by Jacques Rey that shows that he was exploring Egyptian themes in his work for the film.

g) If I'm to follow the idea that a Henu Barque would be far beyond Jacques Rey to know about, then someone else perhaps told him some ideas to incorporate into the image that generally turned it in the direction of being abstractly similar to the Henu Barque.

#2 Archaeological dig camp site at temple entrance by Jacques Rey 27th January 1992

  1. Sylvain Despretz: The problem is that I remember when Jacques did those drawings and there was no such reference in the office. We were all sitting next to each other and all looking at the same books and there was no Internet. ( 27th May 2017, See
Sheridan (Mondoshawan) by Jacques Rey


  1. That's is Mondoshawan origine ;-)

    1. I think that's a very nice photo of an insect of some sort and like the idea so thankyou. The Mondoshawan is a very strange sort of design made up from different things and I appreciate how that seems to have something of it too

    2. That's a ladybug chrysalis (Harmonia axyridis).
      Most films about aliens are made by copying existing beings, but none behave as excitingly.

    3. This Mondoshawan design seems to have a touch of Obelix from the Asterix comics to it as well as Max Ernst's painting Celebes, and there I am with my scheme of thinking that the Henu Barque got into the collective conscious in very curious ways. Well I seem to like these alien creatures that are not really directly based on existing insects even perhaps if they end up being slightly, but ladybirds/ladybugs are always a favourite. Photos of the ladybird/ladybug chrysalis in the way that it's been taken in that photo are rather uncommon, if one looks at the selection on Google so that seems to be an unusual photograph. Another creature to compare it with might be the Scarab which has grooves on its wing shells similar to the belly area of the Mondoshawan, and that would work well with the Ancient Egyptian theme.

    4. Now I've added the image showing an attempt to construct a Mondoshawan from a Henu Barque to give a better idea of my thinking that I did the other year. I'll probably do a colour version soon

    5. Now I've layed down my different ideas about what I think I can recognise in the Mondoshawan design and where else I think I can recognise it. You might appreciate that your very act of taking any interest in the subject of this character from the film has brought me to have a look at what other thoughts I've had about it and put them down in this blog on another page which this one now leads from as a page presenting one of many possibilities to explore. Many thanks.

  2. The title has on September 9th 20201 been changed to "The Fifth Element: The design of the Mondoshawan references the Papyrus of Ani's Henu-Barque?"