Statuette of Anubis - ROM2018_16484_22


Statuette of Anubis

Medium:Bronze, cast and incised
Geography: Undetermined site, Egypt
Date: c. 664-332 BC
Period: 26th-30th Dynasty, Late Period
17.5 x 6.9 x 3.6 cm
Object number: 910.17.42
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

Anubis, Lord of Embalming, Guardian of the Dead, Protector of the Cemetery was one of the most important gods in Ancient Egypt, and one of the most popular of Egyptian gods now. In this fine image he is a canine-headed man, powerfully built and confident.  He once carried a sceptre in his left hand.

In the Old Kingdom, it was to him that prayers for the dead were addressed, and he who was the guarantor of food and drink in the afterlife.  He bore many titles, including Foremost of the Westerners, in reference to the location of many Egyptian cemeteries on the west bank of the Nile, Lord of the Sacred Land, and He who is upon His Mountain, both of which refer to his role as guardian of cemeteries. In a very late story, he is the son of Osiris and Nephthys.

Apart from his role in the embalming of the dead, Anubis played an important part in the Judgement of the Dead, and in leading the deceased into the presence of Osiris.

The word used for his species is sab or zab and refers to jackals, and also to other canines.  His face is quite doglike, but his bushy tail seems to belong to a fox or wolf.  His black colour would not be natural for either of those creatures, and may be symbolic.  When the Egyptians buried votive animals in his name, the animals were dogs.  Perhaps it is not far wrong to think of him as a loyal dog who greets the deceased and leads him upon the frightening journey through the Underworld, as our dogs lead us along streets and through fields in this world.

His name in Ancient Egyptian was Inpu.

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