The Ankh - Charms, Origins and Modern Use

The Egyptian ankh is a well-known symbol seen on ankh charms, on ornamental items, on clothing and numerous other places in today's world. It is similar in appearance to the Christian cross with a loop on top of the transverse bar. The ankh's beginnings are even now vague but it's meaning is unmistakable. It is the Egyptian character for 'eternal life' and is seen in ornamental work and on household objects left in their tombs, which were either created in the shape of an ankh or adorned with this symbol.

The Beginnings of the Ankh

There are several theories about the ankh's origins encompassing the idea that it was a bow used on ritual or sacred clothes, a stylised sandal strap or as a sexual symbol. The most prevalent theory is that it represents a complex bow with the lower part representing the ends of the bow, as it is usually comprised of two parts. The ankh is carried in images of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses and clearly stands for life in these images. It's frequently shown being offered to a king as a figurative 'breath of life' and ankhs were frequently seen as chains, flowing from water vessels symbolising the ankh's regenerative abilities. Jugs used in ceremonies for holding water were often made in the form of an ankh.

Egyptian Ankh Pendant with Lapis
Egyptian Ankh Pendant with Lapis

Egyptian Ankh Pendant with Lapis

Collection of Ancient Egyptian Artifacts and Arts of Ancient Egypt1.75"" Pendant, on Chain, Gold Plated with Lapis

Click here for more information on the Egyptian Ankh Pendant with Lapis

The Ankh as a Representation of Life

As a representation of life it was also used as a representation of fertility, life in the generations to come. An additional name used for the ankh is the Key of the Nile where it represents the coming together of Isis and Osiris, which was believed to start the yearly flooding of the Nile, which was so essential to the Ancient Egyptians. Various Egyptian gods were shown with an ankh in their hands, frequently in two hands crossed over the upper body as seen in a sculpture of Osiris or a sceptre and ankh in each hand as Sobek, Tefnut, Hathor, Anibus and Isis and several more are frequently seen. The symbol also stands for life in the afterworld and the dead may be referred to as ankhu and a sarcophagus as a neb-ankh.

Mirrors and many other household objects, were frequently made in the form of an ankh and it was also the word for mirror. A mirror case was found in the Tutankhamun's tomb and sistrums (a type of musical instrument) and even spoons have also been found in this shape.

How the Ankh is Used in Today's World

Today many people use the ankh as both a decorative item and as a spiritual sign. It's use is wide ranging, from American pop culture to the Hippies of the 60's and 70's who used is at an affirmation of life and as a symbol of their rejection of materialism. It has also been used in Gothic subculture associated with vampirism and features in many films about vampires.

The ankh then is a well known symbol that you may choose to wear as a purely decorative item or as a sign of spiritualism. It can be found in gold and silver charm jewelry, as bracelets, earrings, pendants and Egyptian ankh charms.

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himanshu gusain 4 years ago

it is very knowlagable thing which understanding us about ankh

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