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Anubis, Ancient Egyptian God of Embalming and the Dead

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Anubis (Inpew, Yinepu, Anpu) was an ancient Egyptian god of the underworld who guided and protected the spirits of the dead. He was known as the 'Lord of the Hallowed Land' - the necropolis - and …

Anubis (Inpew, Yinepu, Anpu) was an ancient Egyptian god of the underworld who guided and protected the spirits of the dead. He was known as the 'Lord of the Hallowed Land' - the necropolis - and Khentamentiu, 'Foremost of the Westerners' - the Land of the Dead was thought to be to the west, where the Egyptians buried their dead. (Khentamentiu was the name of a previous canine deity who was superseded by Anubis.) The worship of Anubis was an ancient one - it was probably even older than the worship of Osiris. In the pyramid texts of Unas, his role was already very clear - he was associated with the Eye of Horus and he was already thought to be the guide of the dead in the afterlife, showing them the way to Osiris. In these text, according to E. A. Wallis Budge, it says that "Unas standeth with the Spirits, get thee onwards, Anubis, into Amenti, onwards, onwards to Osiris."

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  • 1. t hekeep.org http://www.thekeep.org/~kunoichi/kunoichi/themestream/anubis.html Anubis, God of Embalming and Guide and Friend of the Dead by Caroline Seawright October 8, 2001 Updated: December 19, 2012 Anubis (Inpew, Yinepu, Anpu) was an ancient Egyptian god of the underworld who guided and protected the spirits of the dead. He was known as the 'Lord of the Hallowed Land' - the necropolis - and Khentamentiu, 'Foremost of the Westerners' - the Land of the Dead was thought to be to the west, where the Egyptians buried their dead. (Khentamentiu was the name of a previous canine deity who was superseded by Anubis.) The worship of Anubis was an ancient one - it was probably even older than the worship of Osiris. In the pyramid texts of Unas, his role was already very clear - he was associated with the Eye of Horus and he was already thought to be the guide of the dead in the af terlif e, showing them the way to Osiris. In these text, according to E.A. Wallis Budge, it says that "Unas standeth with the Spirits, get thee onwards, Anubis, into Amenti, onwards, onwards to Osiris." He was generally depicted as a black jackal-headed man, or as a black jackal. The Egyptians would have noticed the jackals prowling around the graveyards, and so the link between the animal and the dead was f ormed in their minds. (It has been noticed by Flinders Petrie that the best guides to Egyptian tombs are the jackal-trails.) Anubis was painted black to f urther link him with the deceased - a body that has been embalmed became a pitch black colour. Black was also the colour of f ertility, and thus linked to death and rebirth in the af terlif e.Anubis was also seen as the deity of embalming, as well as a god of the dead. To the Egyptians, Anubis was the protector of embalming and guardian of both the mummy and the necropolis. Anubis was of ten identif ied by the word sab, 'jackal' rather than 'dog' (iwiw). Though to the Egyptians there was not a great deal of dif f erence between the two canines, so there is some conf usion over which animal Anubis actually was. The animal is sometimes ref erred to as the 'Anubis animal' as it is unknown which exact species of canine that Anubis actually was based on. When the Osiris worship came to power, Osiris took over many of Anubis' jobs as caretaker and protector of the dead.As this happened, Anubis became 'He Who is Bef ore the Divine Booth', the god of embalming who presided over the f unerary rituals. The f unerary stm priests would wear a mask of the jackal god during the mummif ication process, symbolically becoming the god f or the rituals. The preliminary stages of mummif ication involved the opening - the violation - of the body, an action that only Anubis himself would have been allowed to perf orm. The priest who took on this role was called the 'Overseer of the Mysteries' (hery seshta). It was thought that he would be magically become the f unerary god himself and so be able to legitimately cut open the corpse f or the mummif ication process. He is sometimes called the son of Nephthys and Set or of Nephthys and Osiris. In the second version of his origins, it was believed that his aunt Isis raised him, rather than his mother Nephthys, as Set might murder his wif e's illegitimate son. Thus he grew up as a f riend and f ollower of Osiris.
  • 2. He was thought to have a daughter known as ( ) Qebehet (Qebehout, Kebehut, Kebhut, Kebechet, Kabechet, Kebecht), who was depicted as a snake or ostrich carrying water. She was the goddess of f reshness and purif ication through water who washed the entrails of the deceased and brought the sacred water to Anubis f or his tasks. She was thought to give water to the spirits of the dead while they waited f or the mummif ication process to be complete. She was probably related to mummif ication where she would f ortif y the body against corruption, so it would stay f resh f or reanimation by the deceased's ka. The goddess Qebehet f irst appears in the Fif th Dynasty and is mentioned in the Pyramid Texts of Pepi I: "Qebehet, the daughter of Anubis, goes f orth to meet Pepi, with f our nemset vases. She ref reshes the breast of the Great God on the day of his watch, and she ref reshes the breast of Pepi with lif e. She washes Pepi, she censes Pepi." -- Pat Remler (2010), Egyptian Mythology, A to Z , p. 103 At temples throughout Egypt, some of the priests had a special job as part of the daily ritual - that of purif ying the temple deity. Using incense to purif y the air, the deity was lif ted out of his or her shrine, was washed, anointed with oils, dressed in white, green, red and blue cloths and f ed. Qebehet washing of Pepi seems to relate to the priestly ritual of serving the gods. Because of her connection with water and purif ication, she is sometimes linked with the goddess Iabet. The goddess Anput (Anupet, Input, Inpewt, Yineput) - inpwt - was the goddess of the 17th Nome of Upper Egypt, who was depicted as a woman wearing the jackal standard of her nome or a woman with the head of a jackal. She was believed to have been the wif e of Anubis, and possibly the mother of Qebehet.Anubis was originally the god of the 17th Nome of Upper Egypt. The symbol f or this nome was, as per Anput's headdress, a jackal on top of a standard. In the Ptolemaic temples, Anput takes the f orm of a jackal or similar canid and is shown carrying sharp knives. It would appear that she has a role in the protection of the dead Osiris, and theref ore of deceased humans too. -- Terence DuQuesne (2007), Anubis, Upwawet, and Other Deities: Personal Worship and Official Religion in Ancient Egypt, p. 20 It was believed that Anubis was the one who invented the process of mummif ication.Anubis helped Isis bring her husband back to lif e again af ter Set had killed him. He embalmed the body of the god, swathed it in the linen cloths that had been woven by the twin goddesses, Isis and Nephthys, making sure that the body would never decay or rot. The wakening of the dead was also thought to be a f unction of Anubis. He would appear by the mummy, and awaken the soul. The mummy was removed f rom the sarcophagus when it arrived at the door of the tomb and was placed upright against the wall by a priest wearing the mask of Anubis, thought to have become the god himself . The 'Opening of the Mouth' ceremony was then perf ormed. It consisted of a number of rituals that would turn the mummy (or a statue of the dead) into an inhabitable vessel f or the deceased's ka. The ceremonies involved purif ication, censing and anointing of the mummy along with incantations. The mummy was touched by ritual objects on various body parts to restore the senses - the spirit would then be able to see, hear, speak and eat as a living being. Some of the tools f or this ritual have been f ound in predynastic Amratian graves, so it is probable that at least some of the rituals involved in the 'Opening of the Mouth' had evolved f rom this early time.
  • 3. After the the deceased had been placed into the tomb and sealed up, it was thought that Anubis would lead the deceased to the afterlife, along with another god, Wepwawet (Upuaut). The two are very similar, though Wepwawet was also another ancient jackal or wolf god, appearing on the Narmer palette. He was not f or the pharaoh. The 'Opener of the Ways' helped Anubis to guide the dead to the Halls of Ma'ati. It was here that Anubis, as 'He Who Counts the Hearts', watched over of the weighing of the heart and the judging of the deceased. Here it was his duty to see that the beam of the scales was in its proper place, and that the weighing was done correctly. He would then pass judgement on the deceased and Thoth would record the pronouncement.Anubis would protect the innocent f rom the jaws of Ammut, but would give the guilty to her to meet the f inal death. He also guided the souls of the dead through the underworld, being assisted in this duty by Wapwawet, another jackal-headed eity, whose name signif ies 'Opener of the Ways.' These gods have sometimes been conf ounded with one another, but in certain texts they are separately alluded to. The name of the latter deity is signif icant of his probably early f unction.Anubis, thinks Dr. Budge, was the opener of the roads of the north, and Wapwawet of those of the south. "In f act," he says, "Anubis was the personif ication of the summer solstice, and Wapwawet of the winter solstice." -- Lewis Spence (2008), Myths & Legends of Ancient Egypt, p. 105 A strange f etish, known as the imiut f etish, was linked to Anubis. It was a headless stuf f ed skin (usually of a great f eline), tied by its tail to a pole which was planted in a pot. Known as the 'Son of the hesat-Cow' (the cow that produced the Mnevis bull was linked to the cow goddess Hesat), another title of Anubis, they is evidence of this f etish as early as the 1st Dynasty. They were linked to the f unerary cult, depicted in the Chapel of Anubis at Hatshepsut's mortuary temple and actual golden f etishes being lef t in the tomb of Tutankhamen. These emblems of Anubis were placed at the western ends of the corridors, one on each side of the outermost shrine at Tutankhamen's tomb. The pots were made of calcite and the poles represented the water lily (lotus) stem and bud while the tip of the skin's tail had a papyrus f lower attached and the pole and f etish itself were gilded. Other f etishes have been f ound made of real animal skin that have been wrapped in bandages. In early times there was a god, Imiut, who was known as 'He Who is in His Wrappings' who became a f orm of Anubis. The f etish was probably linked with mummy wrappings though it also appears to have been related to the royal jubilee f estival. Anubis the Dweller in the Mummy Chamber, Governor of the Divine House ... saith:- Homage to thee, thou happy one, lord! Thou seest the Wedjat (Eye of Horus or Ra). Ptah-Sokar hath bound thee up.Anubis hath exalted thee. Shu hath raised thee up, O Beautif ul Face, thou governor of eternity. Thou hast thine eye, O scribe Nebseni, lord of f ealty, and it is beautif ul. Thy right eye is like the Sektet Boat, thy lef t eye is like the Atet Boat. Thine eyebrows are f air to see in the presence of the Company of the Gods. Thy brow is under the protection of Anubis, and thy head and f ace, O beautif ul one, are bef ore the holy Hawk. Thy f ingers have been stablished by thy scribe's craf t in the presence of the Lord of Khemenu (El Ashmunein), Thoth, who hath bestowed upon thee the knowledge of the speech of the holy books. Thy beard is beautif ul in the sight of Ptah-Sokar, and thou, O scribe Nebseni, thou lord of f ealty, art beautif ul bef ore the Great Company of the Gods. The Great God looketh upon thee, and he leadeth thee along the path of happiness. Sepulchral meals are bestowed upon thee, and he overthroweth f or thee thine enemies, setting them under thy f eet in the presence of the Great Company of the Gods who dwell in the House of the Great Aged One which is in Anu. -- E.A. Wallis Budge (1913), The papyrus of Ani: a reproduction in facsimile, Volume 2, pp. 629- 631
  • 4. To the east of Saqqara there was a place known as Anubeion, one of Anubis' cult centres. The burials of mummified dogs and jackals took place there. Although he was worshiped all over Egypt, he had other cult centres at Abt, the 12th Nome of Upper Egypt where a vast number of dog mummies were buried at dog cemeteries. As protector of the necropolis, Anubis was known as 'He Who is Upon the Mountain'. The Egyptians believed that the god would keep watch over the tombs and graves f rom a high vantage point in the desert, ready to rush down to protect the deceased f rom desecration. Images of Anubis as a seated jackal above nine prisoners were stamped on many of the seals to tombs in the Valley of the Kings. They symbolise Anubis' protection against thieves and evil doers who entered the necropolis. He protected not only the souls of the dead, but their eternal resting place, too. © Caroline 'Kunoichi' Seawright 2001 - present