Late Dynastic Faience Amulet of Anubis

SKU PF.5794

1000 BC to 500 BC


2.25″ (5.7cm) high





Gallery Location



In early Egyptian religion, Anubis was the God of the Dead. However, by the beginning of the Old Kingdom, he was superseded by Osiris. Anubis then became one of the gods of the funerary cult, specifically embalming, and the God of Cemeteries. He helped protect the dead and lead them into the underworld. The Ancient Egyptians believed that when after death, one traveled to the interim realm of the Hall of the Dead. There, Anubis weighed your heart against the feather of Ma’at, the Goddess of Justice. First, he steadied the scales to make the balance was fair. If your heart was heavier than the feather, an ostrich plume, then it was eaten by a demon. If the deceased’s heart was lighter than the feather, Anubis guided them towards Osiris to begin their journey through the underworld. In fact, we continue to speak of “a heart as light as a feather” or “heavy-hearted” even today.

This diminutive sculpture of Anubis would have originally been worn as a pendant on a necklace, as is evident from the drilled hole in the back. Most likely, it would have graced the neck of a funerary priest or an ancient mortician responsible for mummifications. The god stands stiffly in a truly archaic posture with his fists clenched and held tightly at his sides. His jackal head sits upon his shoulders as if a mask. Given his significant position in the afterlife, it is especially eerie to consider his large, alert ears and long nose. Clearly this god, the judge of our eternal souls, is aware of all of our earthly successes and failures. He gazes at us without a hint of sympathy or concern. He weighs hearts without pity or remorse, condemning some to damnation and sending others towards the afterlife.

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