Anubis is one of the most iconic gods of ancient Egypt. Anubis is the Greek version of his name, the ancient Egyptians knew him as Anpu (or Inpu). Anubis was an extremely ancient deity whose name appears in the oldest mastabas of the Old Kingdom and the Pyramid Texts as a guardian and protector of the dead. He was originally a god of the underworld, but became associated specifically with the embalming process and funeral rites. His name is from the same root as the word for a royal child, “inpu”. However, it is also closely related to the word “inp” which means “to decay”, and one versions of his name (Inp or Anp) more closely resembles that word. As a result it is possible that his name changed slightly once he was adopted as the son of the King, Osiris. He was known as “Imy-ut” (“He Who is In the Place of Embalming”), “nub-tA-djser” (“lord of the scared land”).
He was initially related to the Ogdoad of Hermopolis, as the god of the underworld. In the Pyramid Texts of Unas, Anubis is associated with the Eye of Horus who acted as a guide to the dead and helped them find Osiris. In other myths Anubis and Wepwawet (Upuaut) led the deceased to the halls of Ma´at where they would be judged. Anubis watched over the whole process and ensured that the weighing of the heart was conducted correctly. He then led the innocent on to a heavenly existence and abandoned the guilty to Ammit.
The ancient Egyptians believed that the preservation of the body and the use of sweet-smelling herbs and plants would help the deceased because Anubis would sniff the mummy and only let the pure move on to paradise. According to early myths, Anubis took on and defeated the nine bows (the collective name for the traditional enemies of Egypt) gaining a further epithet “Jackal ruler of the bows”.
The growing power of the Ennead of Heliopolis resulted in the merging of the two religious systems. However, Osiris was the King of the Underworld in the Ennead and he was more popular (and powerful) than Anubis. So Anubis was relegated to a god of mummification. To save face it was stated that Anubis had voluntarily given up his position when Osiris died as a mark of respect. Some myths even stated that Anubis was the son of Osiris and Nephthys (who was herself associated with the funeral rites). Anubis was still closely involved in the weighing of the heart, but was more a guardian than a ruler.
He became the patron of lost souls, including orphans, and the patron of the funeral rites. In this respect he overlapped with (and eventually absorbed) the Jackal God Wepwawet of Upper Egypt.
During the Ptolemaic Period Anubis became associated with the Greek god Hermes as the composite god Hermanubis. Hermes was messenger of the gods, while Anubis was principally guide of the dead. Hermanubis was some times given attributes of Harpokrates. He was worshipped in Rome until the second century and was popular with Rennaisance alchemists and philosophers.
Priests wore Anubis masks during mummification. However, it is not clear whether the Anubis mask was a later development influenced by the Osirian myth or whether this practice was commonplace in the earlier periods too. Anubis was also closely associated with the imiut fetish used during the embalming ritual. Anubis was credited with a high level of anatomical knowledge as a result of embalming, and so he was the patron of anaesthesiology and his priests were apparently skilled herbal healers.
Tombs in the Valley of the Kings were often sealed with an image of Anubis subduing the “nine bows” (enemies of Egypt) as “Jackal Ruler of the Bows” and it was thought that the god would protect the burial physically and spiritually. One of his epithets, “tpy-djuf” (“he who is on his mountain”) refers to him guarding the necropolis and keeping watch from the hill above the Theban necropolis. He was also given the epithet “khentyamentiu” (“foremost of the westerners” i.e. the dead) because he guarded the entrance to the Underworld.
He was originally thought to be the son of Ra and Hesat, Ra’s wife (who was identified with Hathor), but later myths held that he was the child of Osiris and Nephthys, or Set and Nephthys. He was sometimes described as the son of Bast because of her link to the perfumed oils used in embalming. His wife, Anput (his female aspect) was only really referred to in association with the seventeenth nome of Upper Egypt. It is thought that they were the parents of Kebechet, the goddess of the purification.
Dogs and jackals often patrolled the edges of the desert, near the cemeteries where the dead were buried, and it is thought that the first tombs were constructed to protect the dead from them. Anubis was usually thought of as a jackal (sAb), but may equally have been a wild dog (iwiw) He was usually depicted as a man with the head of a jackal and alert ears, often wearing a red ribbon, and wielding a flail. He was sometimes depicted as a jackal (such as in the beautiful examples from the tomb of Tutankhamun) but only rarely appears as a man (one example is in the cenotaph temple of Rameses II at Abydos).
His fur was generally black (not the brown associated with real jackals) because black was associated with fertility, and was closely linked to rebirth in the afterlife. In the catacombs of Alexandria he was depicted wearing Roman dress and the sun disk flanked by two cobras.
Anubis was worshipped throughout Egypt, but the center of his cult was in Hardai (Cynopolis) in the the seventeenth nome of Upper Egypt. To the east of Saqqara there was a place known as Anubeion, where a shrine and a cemetery of mummified dogs and jackals was discovered. He was also worshipped at cult centers in Abt (the the eighth nome of Upper Egypt) and Saut (Asyut, in the thirteenth nome of Upper Egypt).
Anubis (/əˈnuːbɪs/ or /əˈnjuːbɪs/; Ancient Greek: Ἄνουβις, Egyptian: jnpw, Coptic: ⲁⲛⲟⲩⲡ Anoup) is the Greek name of a god associated with mummification and the afterlife in ancient Egyptian religion, usually depicted as a canine or a man with a canine head. Archeologists identified the sacred animal of Anubis as an Egyptian canid, the African golden wolf.
Like many ancient Egyptian deities, Anubis assumed different roles in various contexts. Depicted as a protector of graves as early as the First Dynasty (c. 3100 – c. 2890 BC), Anubis was also an embalmer. By the Middle Kingdom (c. 2055 – 1650 BC) he was replaced by Osiris in his role as lord of the underworld. One of his prominent roles was as a god who ushered souls into the afterlife. He attended the weighing scale during the “Weighing of the Heart,” in which it was determined whether a soul would be allowed to enter the realm of the dead. Despite being one of the most ancient and “one of the most frequently depicted and mentioned gods” in the Egyptian pantheon, Anubis played almost no role in Egyptian myths.
Anubis was depicted in black, a color that symbolized both rebirth and the discoloration of the corpse after embalming. Anubis is associated with Wepwawet (also called Upuaut), another Egyptian god portrayed with a dog’s head or in canine form, but with grey or white fur. Historians assume that the two figures were eventually combined. Anubis’ female counterpart is Anput. His daughter is the serpent goddess Kebechet.
“Anubis” is a Greek rendering of this god’s Egyptian name. In the Old Kingdom (c. 2686 BC – c. 2181 BC), the standard way of writing his name in hieroglyphs was composed of the sound signs jnpw followed by a jackal over a ḥtp sign:
A new form with the “jackal” on a tall stand appeared in the late Old Kingdom and became common thereafter:
Anubis’ name jnpw was possibly pronounced [a.ˈna.pʰa], based on Coptic Anoup and the Akkadian transcription in the name “Reanapa” that appears in Amarna letter EA 315. However, this transcription may also be interpreted as rˁ-nfr, a name similar to that of Prince Ranefer of the Fourth Dynasty.
In Egypt’s Early Dynastic period (c. 3100 – c. 2686 BC), Anubis was portrayed in full animal form, with a “jackal” head and body. A “jackal” god, probably Anubis, is depicted in stone inscriptions from the reigns of Hor-Aha, Djer, and other pharaohs of the First Dynasty. Since Predynastic Egypt, when the dead were buried in shallow graves, “jackals” had been strongly associated with cemeteries because they were scavengers which uncovered human bodies and ate their flesh. In the spirit of “fighting like with like,” a “jackal” was chosen to protect the dead, because “a common problem (and cause of concern) must have been the digging up of bodies, shortly after burial, by jackals and other wild dogs which lived on the margins of the cultivation.”
The oldest known textual mention of Anubis is in the Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom (c. 2686 – c. 2181 BC), where he is associated with the burial of the pharaoh.
In the Old Kingdom, Anubis was the most important god of the dead. He was replaced in that role by Osiris during the Middle Kingdom (2000–1700 BC). In the Roman era, which started in 30 BC, tomb paintings depict him holding the hand of deceased persons to guide them to Osiris.
The parentage of Anubis varied between myths, times and sources. In early mythology, he was portrayed as a son of Ra. In the Coffin Texts, which were written in the First Intermediate Period (c. 2181–2055 BC), Anubis is the son of either the cow goddess Hesat or the cat-headed Bastet. Another tradition depicted him as the son of his father Ra and mother Nephthys. The Greek Plutarch (c. 40–120 AD) stated that Anubis was the illegitimate son of Nephthys and Osiris, but that he was adopted by Osiris’s wife Isis:
For when Isis found out that Osiris loved her sister and had relations with her in mistaking her sister for herself, and when she saw a proof of it in the form of a garland of clover that he had left to Nephthys – she was looking for a baby, because Nephthys abandoned it at once after it had been born for fear of Seth; and when Isis found the baby helped by the dogs which with great difficulties lead her there, she raised him and he became her guard and ally by the name of Anubis.
George Hart sees this story as an “attempt to incorporate the independent deity Anubis into the Osirian pantheon.” An Egyptian papyrus from the Roman period (30–380 AD) simply called Anubis the “son of Isis.”
In the Ptolemaic period (350–30 BC), when Egypt became a Hellenistic kingdom ruled by Greek pharaohs, Anubis was merged with the Greek god Hermes, becoming Hermanubis. The two gods were considered similar because they both guided souls to the afterlife. The center of this cult was in uten-ha/Sa-ka/ Cynopolis, a place whose Greek name means “city of dogs.” In Book XI of The Golden Ass by Apuleius, there is evidence that the worship of this god was continued in Rome through at least the 2nd century. Indeed, Hermanubis also appears in the alchemical and hermetical literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Although the Greeks and Romans typically scorned Egypt’s animal-headed gods as bizarre and primitive (Anubis was mockingly called “Barker” by the Greeks), Anubis was sometimes associated with Sirius in the heavens and Cerberus and Hades in the underworld. In his dialogues, Plato often has Socrates utter oaths “by the dog” (kai me ton kuna), “by the dog of Egypt”, and “by the dog, the god of the Egyptians”, both for emphasis and to appeal to Anubis as an arbiter of truth in the underworld.
Protector of tombs
In contrast to real wolves, Anubis was a protector of graves and cemeteries. Several epithets attached to his name in Egyptian texts and inscriptions referred to that role. Khenty-imentiu, which means “foremost of the westerners” and later became the name of a different wolf god, alluded to his protecting function because the dead were usually buried on the west bank of the Nile. He took other names in connection with his funerary role, such as tpy-ḏw.f “He who is upon his mountain” (i.e. keeping guard over tombs from above) and nb-t3-ḏsr “Lord of the sacred land”, which designates him as a god of the desert necropolis.
The Jumilhac papyrus recounts another tale where Anubis protected the body of Osiris from Set. Set attempted to attack the body of Osiris by transforming himself into a leopard. Anubis stopped and subdued Set, however, and he branded Set’s skin with a hot iron rod. Anubis then flayed Set and wore his skin as a warning against evil-doers who would desecrate the tombs of the dead. Priests who attended to the dead wore leopard skin in order to commemorate Anubis’ victory over Set. The legend of Anubis branding the hide of Set in leopard form was used to explain how the leopard got its spots.
Most ancient tombs had prayers to Anubis carved on them.
As jmy-wt “He who is in the place of embalming”, Anubis was associated with mummification. He was also called ḫnty zḥ-nṯr “He who presides over the god’s booth”, in which “booth” could refer either to the place where embalming was carried out or the pharaoh’s burial chamber.
In the Osiris myth, Anubis helped Isis to embalm Osiris. Indeed, when the Osiris myth emerged, it was said that after Osiris had been killed by Set, Osiris’s organs were given to Anubis as a gift. With this connection, Anubis became the patron god of embalmers; during the rites of mummification, illustrations from the Book of the Dead often show a wolf-mask-wearing priest supporting the upright mummy.
Guide of souls
By the late pharaonic era (664–332 BC), Anubis was often depicted as guiding individuals across the threshold from the world of the living to the afterlife. Though a similar role was sometimes performed by the cow-headed Hathor, Anubis was more commonly chosen to fulfill that function. Greek writers from the Roman period of Egyptian history designated that role as that of “psychopomp”, a Greek term meaning “guide of souls” that they used to refer to their own god Hermes, who also played that role in Greek religion. Funerary art from that period represents Anubis guiding either men or women dressed in Greek clothes into the presence of Osiris, who by then had long replaced Anubis as ruler of the underworld.
Weighing of the heart
One of the roles of Anubis was as the “Guardian of the Scales.” The critical scene depicting the weighing of the heart, in the Book of the Dead, shows Anubis performing a measurement that determined whether the person was worthy of entering the realm of the dead (the underworld, known as Duat). By weighing the heart of a deceased person against Ma’at (or “truth”), who was often represented as an ostrich feather, Anubis dictated the fate of souls. Souls heavier than a feather would be devoured by Ammit, and souls lighter than a feather would ascend to a heavenly existence.
Main Source: Ancient Egypt Online
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One thought on “Gods – Anubis”
Love him forever 🙂 Great God of underworld 🙂
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