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Ancient Egyptian symbols

 
Ancient Egyptian symbols were a great source of knowledge as it was necessary better to understand their history, daily life, and religions. Egyptian symbols were depicted in hieroglyphs signs, and these symbols were called "The words of God."

The most famous ancient Symbols for Egypt are the sphinx, the scarab, the ankh, the 'all-seeing' Eye of Horus, and the gods depicted with animal heads. They are shown in ancient Egyptian art, their artifacts, relics found in the tombs, temples, hieroglyphics, and the papyrus manuscripts of the ancient Egyptians. 

The Symbols represented diverse usages and meanings in the lives of the ancient Egyptians. Many ancient Egyptian symbols were used as amulets of protection. They were used to bring good fortune and were also used in religious and magical rituals for the living and the dead.


Ancient Egyptian symbols


Egyptian symbols

Ancient Egyptian symbols Usage


Priests commonly used these symbols to document the most critical events in ancient Egyptian history, spiritual beliefs, and culture. Egyptian art is rich in symbols related to royalty and its religious beliefs. Understanding the meanings of these ancient Egyptian Symbols enables a fuller understanding of Egyptian history. Ancient Egyptians were very creative and organized as each symbol had its shape and meaning that came from their own lives.
 
These Symbols played a vital role in passing the culture from one generation to another, as they were written on temple walls, obelisks and used in magical and religious rituals for both the living and the dead. They were depicted in hieroglyphs and treated as "The Words of Gods" to document the most critical events in ancient Egyptian history, their spiritual beliefs, and culture.

Ancient Egyptian symbols were a fusion between the spiritual and the physical aspects and have affected life in ancient Egypt which showed in the form of artistic architecture, symbols, amulets, and many objects used to bring good fortune and protection. The famous Symbols for Egypt represented divine power, immortality, reincarnation, healing, or symbolized emblems of authority.

Thus, many people from all around the world know many Egyptian symbols when they see them. They seem almost magical, and people are captivated by their beauty and significance. Learning about Egyptian signs and ancient Kemetic symbols is one of the most exciting things you can do. You will learn a ton about ancient society and how human beings, despite evolving, still stick to some practices.


Ancient Egyptian Religious Symbols


 The ancient Egyptians believed that their earthly presence was only a part of their eternal voyage and that death was only the beginning of a new chapter in another realm. They thought that the gods looked over them from their birth to their earthly life till their eternal one if their souls were chosen to cross to the afterlife. So they needed symbols to remind themselves of the gifts bestowed upon them by the gods.
 
Religion in ancient Egypt was fully integrated into the people's daily lives. The gods were present at one's birth, throughout one's life, in the transition from earthly life to the eternal, and continued their care for the soul in the afterlife of the Field of Reeds. The spiritual world was ever-present in the physical world. This understanding was symbolized through images in art, architecture, amulets, sculpture, and the objects used by nobility and clergy to perform their duties.
 
Egyptian Religious Symbols
 
 Each one of the ancient Egyptian symbols was a reflection of the power and wisdom of the gods and played a role in their lives and often was related to ideas like Life, Death, Birth, Regeneration, Truth, Faith, Fertility, Power, Wealth, Luck, Happiness, Lust, Love, Protection, Healing, Weakness, Hatred, Peace and more.

As one of the oldest known human civilizations, Ancient Egypt has captured people’s imaginations for centuries. Known for its mummies, pyramids, and pharaohs, few civilizations are impressive, especially considering that they lasted for an incredible 3000 years.

It is believed that religion and written language were primarily responsible for the civilization’s success, as they allowed for ancient knowledge and values to be communicated between generations. Thanks to discovering the Rosetta stone in 1799, which provided a Greek translation of Egyptian writings, we now know many of the meanings of the hieroglyphs.

From Ankhs and the Eye of Ra to modern Coptic crosses, symbols commonly associated with Egypt have various potent meanings. Because Egyptian culture has survived for such an immensely long time, it contains many contradictory myths and vastly different implications for multiple symbols. These symbols evolve as old ideas become incorporated into new myths or gods. As these new myths or gods ascend in popularity, they start taking over aspects of other deities.

 

Here our website covers the most amazing ancient Egyptian symbols:

 

1. The Ankh symbol

 
The Ankh symbol
 
The Ankh symbol
 
The Ankh is the Egyptian symbol of life and indicates  that the King or God holding it has the power to give life or  take it away from lesser mortals.Only Kings, Queens and Gods were allowed to carry this symbol. The Ankh as a symbol of the life giving elements of air and water was often used by a God or Goddess who holds the Ankh before the King’s nose,  giving him the “breath of life” or as streams of water in the  form of ankhs running over the King during ritual  purification.
 
The scepter was a popular one for the Gods to hold and became a symbol of well-being and happiness.There are three principal ways that the Egyptians used  the Ankh symbol, by itself, in their drawings Probably the most common depiction of  the Ankh is being clutched in the hand by the gods and goddesses  on the upper loop portion of the symbol.

The Ankh appears frequently in Egyptian tomb  paintings and other art, often at the fingertips of a god or  goddess in images that represent the deities of the afterlife  conferring the gift of life on the dead person’s mummy.
 
 


2. The Wedjat Eye of Horus
 

The Wedjat Eye of Horus

The eye of Horus is also known as Wedjat , udjat or Oudjat is an ancient Egyptian symbol of regeneration used in modern times as popular icon for the civilization and is sometimes associated with occult beliefs. The udjat is represented as a human eye and eyebrow as they would be seen looking at a person in the face. The eye is decorated with signs that adorn the eyes of hawks.The eye is decorated with signs that adorn the eyes of hawks.

In magic the Eye of Horus symbolises protection and the bringing of wisdom. The eye also symbolises our ability to see with clarity and truthfulness. The Eye of Horus was believed to have healing and protective power, and it was used as a protective amulet.Horus is a complicated deity, appearing in many different forms and his mythology is one of the most extensive of all Egyptian deities.

Usually it is the right eye showed that the udjat, although the left is not uncommon. This is probably because of another myth that the sun and moon were the right (sun) and left (moon) eyes of the god of the sky and the sun is considered more powerful. The Eye of Horus symbol was used in funerary rites and decoration, as shown in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Therefore, the sacred eye could also function as a symbol of the offer.


 
The Khepri Scarab
 
The scarab beetle is a real beetle, a common beetle. To the ancient Egyptians, this common beetle symbolized hope and the restoration of life. They used the design of a scarab beetle in many ways. Seals were created in the shape of a scarab and used to stamp documents.

 Artisans made scarab jewelry using precious gems and painted clay. The same design was used to make good luck charms and amulets to ward off evil. In ancient Egypt, scarab jewelry, good luck charms, and amulets were often given as gifts. An inscription was often added with the name of the owner and perhaps a motto or a message, like, "good luck in your new job".

 Scarabs came in many designs including winged scarabs. The colors were rich and beautiful. Blue symbolized the Nile River. Red symbolized Ra. There were touches of yellow for the desert and sun. Green was used to emphasis growth. Over time, the scarab became a sacred symbol.

Scarab Appearance : The particular species of beetle represented in the numerous ancient Egyptian amulets and works of art was commonly the large sacred scarab (Scarabaeus sacer). This beetle was famous for his habit of rolling balls of dung along the ground and depositing them in its burrows. The female would lay her eggs in the ball of dung.


 
Cartouche Definition
 
 A cartouche is an oblong, or oval, magical rope which was drawn to contain the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics that spelt out the name of a King or Queen. The "cartouche" can be found on Egyptian monuments and papyrus documents and the magical rope was used to surround the name and protect it. " Cartouche " The word was first applied to the Cartouche symbol by the French soldiers who were part of the 1798 military campaign led by Napoleon Bonaparte in Egypt. 
 
The Egyptian name of the Cartouche shenu is derived from the same verb, "Sheni" (circle) as shen ring. The Ancient Egyptians believed that the person would live for as long as the name was spoken. A person would be destroyed if his name was obliterated and great efforts were made to protect it. The name of the hated heretic Pharaoh, Akhenaten which would have been surrounded by a cartouche were hacked out of monuments and deleted from documents to destroy all memory of this hated king of Egypt.

The use of the cartouche started during the beginning of the Fourth Dynasty under Pharaoh Sneferu.  Before this period the names of the kings and gods were written in rectangular frames. The cartouche was known in ancient Egypt as the shenu and is derived from the Egyptian word 'Sheni' which means to encircle.  The cartouche proved invaluable to early scholars such as Jean-Francois Champollion, who were attempting to decipher the hieroglyphic script, in that it could be presumed to indicate which groups of signs were the royal names. 
 
The cartouche hieroglyph also appears in many decorative contexts such as the finger rings and decorated cartouche-shaped boxes. Some of these rings and chests were based on the form of the twin cartouches which framed both the king's most important names, though in these examples the cartouches often encircle small representations of a solar-related deity or the king himself rather than his name.


5.  The Sphinx

 Ancient Egypt Sphinx
Sphinxes are majestic monuments of Egyptian civilization. Sphinxes were in the forms of tombs so that the tombs inside could be guarded. The name 'sphinx' which means 'strangler' was first given by the Greeks to a fabulous creature which had the head of a woman and the body of a lion and the wings of a bird.
 
However some believe that the name may come from the Ancient Egyptian phrase 'shesep ankh', which means living image. Worship of sun god Ra is associated with the origin of sphinx.

The origin of sphinx dates back to the Old Kingdom of Egypt. First sphinxes were made by the rulers of fourth dynasty. They were carved out of a single knoll of stone and have the head of a man with the face of a pharaoh, a ram, or a hawk.
 
 It has the body, legs, and tail of a lion. The sphinx has no markings to date it. The Egyptians used names such as "balhib" or "bilhaw" for these structures, as texts suggest. Most of them are male, but female sphinxes were not unknown. The face of a sphinx usually portrays a pharaoh, as he is supposed to be an incarnation of the sun god.

 
 
 
Egyptian Mau Cat
 
The ancient Egyptians had numerous types of pets - monkeys, ducks, geese, pigeons, hoopoes, falcons, cats, dogs, and even ferrets. Feline reverence had a remarkable significance in their religious life. The people worshiped cats, and Bastet was the cat goddess.
 
Bastet is a sacred cat of ancient Egypt. Bast is first and foremost a protectress, specifically of the royal house and the Two Lands. Later she got the life-preserving goddess of joy and protector of women. However, Bast's original role did not include the "cat as sex symbol" archetype.

The cat goddess Bastet eventually replaced the cult of Mafdet, and Bast's image softened over time and became the deity representing protection, fertility, and motherhood. Bastet was often described as having the body of a woman and the head of a domestic cat. It has been associated with the Eye of Ra, acting within the power of the sun god.

There was a word for cat, and that was miu or mii, meaning "one who meows." The fact that the armies were even sent to retrieve cats from abroad tells us how much they appreciate these loving animals.
 


 
Maat symbol of justice
 
Maat represented justice, order, truth, morality and balance. Gods are often seen standing on the symbol of Maat, symbol of justice. Feather of Maat was the feather that adorned a goddess called Maat.

It is the responsibility of the Pharaoh establish and maintain Maat. Maat was lost when a pharaoh died. It could be restored by the crowning of a new Pharaoh. Egyptians had strong beliefs afterlife in which the deceased's heart was weighed against Maat Feather at the last judgment.

 A heart was heavy with sin weighed more than the feather and the deceased was punished by Ammit, the monster. If the heart weighs less than the feather, it means that the heart was free from his sins and the person has been authorized to the world of Osiris.


 
Canopic Jars in Ancient Egypt
 
 Canopic jars played an important role in the rituals of ancient Egyptians of which the most prominent was the mummification process. They were wide necked containers in which the internal organs of the deceased were stored before mummifying the dead.

Egyptians believed in afterlife and stored the internal soft organs like the stomach, intestines, liver and lungs.These organs constituted the 'viscera'. Each organ was stored in a separate Canopic jar. It is interesting to note that heart was left inside the body because the Egyptians believed that heart was the soul and it was weighed afterlife to see whether the person lead a good life.

Canopic jars were made of a wide range of materials like pottery, gold, bronze, precious stone, wood, calcite etc. The nature of the material depended on the wealth of the owner. The size of the canopic jars varied from 5 inches to 10 inches in size.

The syle and shape of Canopic jars changed with time. Initially, there were plainly decorated ones and later beautifully designed ones.The origin of the term 'canopic' is widely debated. There was an ancient Egyptian port called Canopus, east of Alexandria, whose inhabitants worshipped Osiris, the Egyptian god of the dead.


 
Ancient Egyptian Blue Lotus
 
The Lotus is a water lily that is also known as the sacred lily of the Nile. In Egyptian mythology, the blue lotus was a symbol of the sun, as the flowers close at night and open in the morning. Sacred Blue Lily of the Nile was held in very high esteem by the Ancient Egyptians, Nubians, Abyssinians, and any number of historic African civilizations. Also highly respected and by Indians and in Buddhism.

 It was worshipped as a visionary plant and was a symbol for the origins of life. Traditionally, it was drank after being soaked in warm water or wine, while a cigarette made of the dried flowers was smoked. Is said to produce a feeling of joy that permeates the whole body, emanating from every cell. Sacred Blue Lily of the Nile is a fantastic smoke and the best part is it can be blended to add flavor to your favorite blends.

 Nymphaea Caerulea (Blue Lotus or Sacred Blue Lily of the Nile) was the most sacred plant of Ancient Egypt, prized above all others. Nymphaea Caerulea (Blue Lotus) was worshipped as a visionary plant and was a symbol for the origins of life. It was frequently depicted in works of art, where it is most often shown in party and other social scenes, and sometimes in scenes of sexual debauchery. 


 
Crook and Flail Meaning
 
The crook or heka and the flail or flabellum (nekhakha), are two of the most prominent items in the royal regalia of ancient Egypt. The scepter in Ancient Egypt was a sign for the kings , princes and nobles and the evidence of His Highness, the prestige , honor and power.Actual, very fine examples of both survive from ancient Egypt, as do statues and various wall reliefs, paintings and papyrus with representations of these objects.

The crook and flail, though different scepters, could every so often be depicted separately, though usually paired with some other type of scepter, but they were most commonly represented together, held across the chest of the kings, Osiris, or other gods identified with them. They were insignias of kingship, and while other deities could proffer them, they never kept them.Both insignias derived from the iconography of Andjety, who was the local god of the Delta town named Djedu.
 
He was represented in human form with two feathers on his head and holding the crook and flail in his hands At a very early date in Egyptian history, Andjety, who had a close relationship with kingship from the earliest of times, was absorbed into Osiris of Busiris, who became a national god known simply as Osiris.  

Osiris, of course, was regarded not only as a god but also as a deified deceased king and consequently his insignia, and particularly that of the crook and flail, were treated as symbols of royalty.Sacred models of them were kept in Heliopolis. The crook was a cane with a hooked handle, sometimes gold-plated and reinforced with blue copper bands. It probably derived from the shepherd's crosier. Its hieroglyphic value was "rule". 


 
Ancient Egyptian Headdress
 
Caps and crowns have been one of the distinguishing features of ancient Egypt. Not only the Egyptian deities, but pharaohs, queens, aristocrats were also a variety of hairstyles. Before the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, the Red Crown, or Deshret, was associated with Upper Egypt and the White Crown, or Hedjet with Lower Egypt. After unification, called a crown combined Pschent was used by the Pharaoh.

These wigs were for ceremonial purposes. But they have sometimes been used to protect the hot climate. Hairstyles were used to distinguish the ancient deities. When different deities took over the powers of other gods, headdresses were often confused. A crown or cap associated with the pharaoh is the Nemes headdress. 
 
He is most famous as represented by the funeral mask of Tutankhamun and is also visible on the Sphinx. This fabric was often head full of bright colors. The front part of the sports this hairstyle uraeus, a cobra goddess vertically flared known as Wadjet, the vulture goddess, Nekhbet. Khepresh Blue Crown was this associated with the pharaoh. 

The Gold Mask of King Tutankhamun
 The Gold Mask of King Tutankhamun


 This high crown was probably made of stiff canvas or leather and disseminate up and back from six to eight inches from the front. It has a round, bulbous bow. Sometimes crowns associated with the gods and goddesses were often combined with these hairstyles combine the pharaoh with a particular deity.

The hairstyle most commonly worn by queens was the vulture cap associated with the goddess Nekhbet, because it represented motherhood. The "queens caps often had elements related to Hathor, such as cow horns with the solar disk.


12. The "KA" and "BA"

 Tutankhamun Guardian Statues
 
The most interesting belief of the Egyptians was that of the 2 life forces that they believed controlled all human beings. The "KA" as they believed was the life force responsible for animation, which is to say that as long as it's present the person remains alive. Upon death the "KA" acquires a separate existence.

It however still retains the bodies form and requires sustenance.The  ka was a kind of astral double or spiritual duplicate of  the deceased that was necessary for existence in the  next world. When a person died, the ka continued to  dwell in the body, and one reason for mummification  was to ensure the  ka a dwelling place.

In case the  mummy was damaged or destroyed, many Egyptians  were buried with a ka statue. The statue was a portrait  of the deceased that the ka could recognize and was  meant to be an alternative dwelling for the ka if the  mummy was not suitable.

It was believed that a person's  ka continued to  need nourishment, so priests or family members of  the deceased visited the mortuary temple and left  food offerings. They didn’t believe the  ka actually  consumed the food but that it magically derived  benefits from the offering. Sometimes pictures of  offerings on the tomb walls replaced the actual food  offering.




 
What is an obelisk?

 The term "obelisk" comes from the Greek word "Obeliskos", which means a pointed nail. It is a tall, tapering, four-sided structure ending at a pointed head. It was called Tenjen in the language of Ancient Egypt, and meant protection and defense. The Obelisk was thought to perforate the clouds and disperse the negative forces.

These Obelisk symbolize the stability and strength held by the Sun God Ra. The Egyptians believed that the solar rays brought great power to the world, even to the dead lying in graves which would in turn benefit their afterlife. Apart from Egypt there are obelisks in Assyria, Ethiopia, Rome, Byzantine and Columbia as well.

It is said to represent a petrified ray of the sun disk. Egyptian temples usually had a pair of Obelisks flanking the main gateway at the pylon. Many of these Obelisks still survive, in situ as well as in different places across the world. The earliest temple Obelisk is the red granite Obelisk at the temple of Senusret I, at Al-Matarriyah part of Heliopolis.

Some scholars argue that the shape of the ancient pyramids and obelisks were derived from natural phenomena associated with the sun, and the obelisk did symbolize the Sun God. The God was also believed to have been residing inside the structure. The obelisk had heavily influenced the Roman Emperors and they made many such in Rome.


14.The Uraeus
 
Ancient Egyptian Uraeus
The Uraeus ,Uraei or Uraeuses is the stylized, upright form of an Egyptian cobra (serpent, or snake), used as a symbol of sovereignty, royalty, deity and divine authority in ancient Egypt. The Uraeus is a symbol for the goddess Wadjet. She was one of the earliest Egyptian deities and who often was depicted as a cobra. The center of her cult was in Per-Wadjet, later called Buto by the Greeks. She became the patroness of the Nile Delta and the protector of all of Lower Egypt. 
 
The pharaohs wore the Uraeus as a head ornament: either with the body of Wadjet atop the head, or as a crown encircling the head; this indicated Wadjet's protection and reinforced the pharaoh's claim over the land. In whatever manner that the Uraeus was displayed upon the pharaoh's head, it was, in effect, part of the pharaoh's crown. The pharaoh was recognized only by wearing the Uraeus, which conveyed legitimacy to the ruler. 
 
There is evidence for this tradition even in the Old Kingdom during the third millennium BCE. Several goddesses associated with or being considered aspects of Wadjet are depicted wearing the Uraeus also. At the time of the unification of Egypt, the image of Nekhbet, who was represented as a white vulture and held the same position as the patron of Upper Egypt, joined the image of Wadjet on the Uraeus that would encircle the crown of the pharaohs who ruled the unified Egypt. 
 
The importance of their separate cults kept them from becoming merged as with so many Egyptian deities. Together, they were known as The Two Ladies, who became the joint protectors and patrons of the unified Egypt. Later, the pharaohs were seen as a manifestation of the sun god Ra, and so it also was believed that the Uraeus protected them by spitting fire on their enemies from the fiery eye of the goddess. In some mythological works, the eyes of Ra are said to be uraei.
 


For more details on the Egyptian symbols and their meanings Read these articles :-
 
 
 

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