Anubis: the importance in Egyptian religiosity

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anubis was an Egyptian deity who had a human body and a jackal's head. The Egyptians considered him the god of the dead and mummification, although some of his attributes were later related to Osiris, another god of Egypt. He was considered a guide to the dead in the afterlife and protector of cemeteries.

See too:Greek gods — the deities present in the religion of the ancient Greeks

Summary about Anubis

  • Anubis was the god of the dead and mummification for the ancient Egyptians.

  • He had a human body and an animal head.

  • Commonly, he had his figure depicted in tombs.

  • He was considered the guide of the dead in the afterlife and the protector of cemeteries.

  • Part of his attributes became related to Osiris around 2000 BC. Ç.

  • People used amulets in reference to Anubis and various epithets have been attributed to him.

Anubis, the god of the dead

Anubis was an important Egyptian god, regarded as one of the gods of the dead, as well as being the god of mummification. He was regarded as the responsible for guiding the dead into the afterlife

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. Traditionally, Anubis is represented with a human body and the head of a jackal, an animal that lives in the desert.

Anubis was often confused with another Egyptian god: Wepwawet. This was the Egyptian god of war, and because of the relationship between war and death, both deities were correlated. Furthermore, Wepwawet could also be represented as a jackal, which widened the scope for confusion. It is important to note, however, that they were separate gods in the egyptian religiosity.

Anubis was marked by having been the first egyptian god to be associated with the dead, however he lost this attribute to Osiris, who established himself as another god of the dead around 2000 BC. Ç. The growing importance of Osiris in Egyptian religiosity even caused the parents of Anubis, in mythology, to be changed.

Initially, he was considered the son of Ra and Hesat, however, when Osiris gained importance in mythology, Anubis came to be seen as the son of Osiris and Nephthys. Anyway, Anubis had important attributes in Egyptian religiosity. He was considered:

  • protector of the dead;

  • guide the dead in the afterlife;

  • protector of cemeteries.

In fact, in one of the most important myths of Egyptian religiosity - that of the judgment of the dead -, Anubis was present. He was part of the Court of Osiris and he played a role in handling the balance that weighed the heart (which represented actions) and the pen (which represented justice). Furthermore, the Egyptians believed that Anubis could punish those who violated the tombs in the Egypt.

The name Anubis is the way the Greeks referred to this god., the Egyptians calling him Anpu or Inpu. Anubis, in general, does not appear in many Egyptian myths, his birth being one of the few examples. There is also a mention of Anubis in the myth of Osiris' death. In it, Anubis assists Isis in mummifying Osiris' body.

readalso: Old age - O period of history in which Ancient Egypt is inserted

Anubis in Egyptian Religiosity

The first known representations of Anubis were made in tombs around 3100 BC. C., but it is believed that the cult of this god is much older than that. Historians speculate that the cult of Anubis is derived from the period known as the Pre-Dynastic Period, which extended from 6000 BC. Ç. to 3150 a. C., approx.

The center of the Anubis cult was the Egyptian city of Saka, located in Upper Egypt. However, shrines dedicated to this god existed throughout Egypt. Over time, the necropolis located at Memphis made Anubis its patron god of embalming. It is important to remember that embalming played a crucial role in Egyptian funerary rites, which involved mummification.

Ruins of the Saqqara Necropolis, where Anubis was seen as the patron god of embalming.

In the places of worship of Anubis, the priests wore wooden masks that reproduced the face of a jackal. There were also amulets used as a reference to this god. It can be said, therefore, that the cult of Anubis was popular. The cult of this deity was not restricted to Egypt and reached places such as Nubia, where the kingdom of Kush was located, and the Greece, where she was associated with the god Hermes.

The respect for Anubis was so great that a number of epithets were attributed to him, bestowing on him qualities that related to his powers as a god. The Egyptians recognized that those who went to the afterlife as Westerners, for that was the side to which the Sun sets. Thus, Anubis was called "the first of the Westerners".

Another nickname given to this god was khenti-lid, which meant “the most important of Westerners”. These epithets reinforced the ties this deity had with death and the afterlife in Egyptian piety. Anubis was also called "lord of the holy lands", a reference to the necropolises built by the Egyptians.

  • Video lesson on the religion of Ancient Egypt
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