Ankh: An Ancient Symbol's Symbolism
The Ankh is an Egyptian hieroglyphic character that represented the Egyptian word for life. Egyptian gods are often depicted carrying it by its loop, or supporting one in each hand, with their arms crossed over their chest. The Ankh is also known as the Egyptian Cross or Key of Life, or as the crux ansata, Latin for the cross with a handle. And while it has been adopted as a symbol by many of the modern-day Neopagans, the precise origin of the symbol remains a mystery with leading Egyptologists, and no assumption has been largely accepted. Disciples such as Howard Carter speculate that it is derived from a primitive representation of the human genitals, with the higher circle representing the vulva and the form lower by "T" representing the penis and the testicles, and the variations on this topic are common. The similar assertions are that the symbol is a representation of the sheath of the penis of the Pharaon or that it is a triangle pubic stylized.
Ankh Origins and Its Progression of Symbolism
The Ankh has been proffered as girdle-buckles of Isis, the goddess mother, with the concept that the ankh and the cross of Isis were employed as buckles on the ceremonious belts. The Ankh has also been represented as the belt of a sandal, with the loop circulating the ankle.
Other theories always include the concept that the ankh represents the sun crowning above the horizon, the way of the sun the East-West one, with the loop representing the Nile, of a stylized person, or that it is a combination of the symbols male and female of Osiris, the cross, and IS-IS, the oval, respectively, and thus means the union of the sky and the ground.
Over time, the Ankh came to symbolize life and immortality, the universe, an the powerful life-sustaining elements of air and water. Its key-like form also encouraged the belief that it could unlock the doors of death, and it is looked at in this way by modern Rosicrucians and other hermetic orders. The Christians coptes employed it as a symbol of life after death.
The ankh frequently appears in Egyptian paintings of tombs and various other art forms, often with the ends of the finger of a god or a goddess in the images which represent the deity of the life after death conferring the gift of the life on a mummy. This depiction is thought to symbolize the act of the design. Moreover, an ankh alone was often carried by Egyptians like an amulet, or in connection with two others hieroglyphics that mean "force" and "health." Mirrors of hammered metal were also often fashioned in the form of an ankh, sometimes perhaps just for decorative reasons or perhaps at others to symbolize a sight perceived in another world.
The ankh was almost never fashioned from gold. Gold was primarily used to fashion the sun-symbol, the Egyptians have almost invariably wrought important examples of the symbol for the sun of metal they the most associated the sun and that metal was gold. For ankhs, metals such as copper, polished with a raised glare, was more often employed.
Of all Egyptian symbols, most generally the recognizable one is the ankh, since it is perhaps the most common symbol among the Egyptians. In spite of this knowledge, we are really not too sure exactly what an ankh was made of or what it represented. It seems to be a certain kind of arc or cross which had a certain kind of specific religious significance; is generally accepted significance is as a symbol of "life" or "life-giving-power," the significant general symbolic meaning of the cross among the Egyptians.
The Ankh as a symbol of the power that gives and supports life, the ankh is typically associated with the material things such as water, which was supposed by Egyptians to regenerate the life; a symbol for water, the air, or the sun, as well as the gods, who are frequently depicted carrying an ankh. The Egyptian king is often associated the ankh, in the possession of an ankh, providing the life to its people, or is given an ankh, or ankhs, by the gods.
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