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Canopic Jars of Ancient Egypt

Updated on January 14, 2016

Canopic Jars Preserved Internal Organs for the Afterlife

Canopic jars are funerary jars with large, wide necks that are designed to hold the largest of human organs, called the viscera, which were extracted during the process of mummification. They were used starting with the Old Kingdom in Egypt. The Ancient Egyptians held the belief that the dead person would need their organs for the afterlife so they carefully stored and buried them in the tomb with the corpse. The purpose of Ancient Egyptian canopic jars was to preserve the liver, lungs, stomach and intestines which, were removed during the process of mummification.The heart was left in the body, as the Ancient Egyptians believed the heart held the spirit, understanding and senses and would be needed on the Day of Judgment in the Underworld.

Egyptians believed that unless your sins weighed less than a feather you would never make it to the afterlife

Egypt, at its time of Glory

At one time, Egypt was the most powerful nation in the world. They were far advanced in engineering and agriculture and they had the Nile River to water the Fertile Crest. Their pyramids are one of the Seven Wonders of the World and they were far advanced in Astronomy and other sciences.

To this day, people are fascinated with the their hieroglyphics and mummies. However, most people do not know that only the powerful and wealthy were mummified. This was to assist them with the transition into the afterlife. Still mummification did not guarantee acceptance. One still had to face the judgment to see if they were worthy. This is a picture of Anibus's spirit being weighed in a scale against a feather.

Mummification was discovered by burying the bodies in the hot dry sand. Soon the Egyptians develop the embalming process and wrapped the bodies into what we know know as mummies.

ImSety Canopic Jar

There is a legend that surrounds this particular Canopic Jar. it is believed that the Pharaoh Imsety would protect all treasures you place within this jar because it bares his likeness. This Jar is embellished with traditional Egyptian symbols and hieroglyphics bare his name.

Why there are Four Canopic Jars?

During the mummification process, each organ was carefully removed and placed in its appropriate and separate canopic jar. The the fours jars were placed together in a canopic chest or box. The placement of each jar was important as well . They were placed so they could face East, West, North or South accordingly.

There were four jars in number that represent the Four Sons of Horus determined by its characteristic head. A particular human organ was placed in the corresponding jar as well as representing the four cardinal points of the compass.

This set of Four Canopic Jar most resembles those used in Ancient Egypt

The most authentic looking Canopic Jars is this set of four-nine inch jars with lids representing the four sons of Horus

Modern Day Canopic Jar Sets Collectable Figurines

ImSety Iron Canopic Jar on Ritual Plate (Set of 2)

This is another ImSety protective jar. It is foundry cast in iron, this replica designed from an original antique. It includes a Ritual Plate that is embellished with images of cobras. The Canopic Jar bears the likeness of the Pharaoh Imsety.

All Bronze Canopic Jars

In order to cast this set in Bronze the artist had to first sculpt the entire set in clay

 Bronze Egyptian Canopic Jars Jar Set of 4 GiftsCheck Price

The Characteristic Heads on Each Jar

Duamutef, is the jackal-headed jar which represents the east. it is the jar which contained the stomach. It was believed this jar was protected by the goddess Neith. This jar was placed near the sarcophagus, on the east cardinal point. His name means, "he who praises his mother" or "Who loves his mother".

Qebehsenuef is the falcon-headed jar which also represents the west. This jar contained the intestines. The god who protects this jar is the goddess Selket.

Hapi is the jar with the the baboon-headed representing the north. This jar would contain the lungs and its protector was the goddess Nephthys.

Imseti, the human-headed Pharaoh looking jar. This jar represents the south. It is the container for the liver and its protector is the goddess Isis.

According to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, a collection of ancient Egyptian funerary texts from various periods, containing prayers, magic formulas, and hymns to be used by the soul of the deceased for guidance and protection on its journey to the afterlife, burial practices of the Egyptians, a special speech was attributed to each sons of the Horus.

Egyptian God Duamutef Canopic Jar Available on Amazon

My Hand Sculpted Canopic Jar - Jackel Head

I made my own Egyptian canopic jar. It was hand sculpted in clay which I dug and cleaned by hand. This is a two piece wide mouth jar made with hand dug clay from the mountains of Soccoro, New Mexico. It took approximately 8 weeks to make do to processing and cleaning the clay. The wet clay has little tiny bits of quartz in it and once fired you can see little crystal stars embedded in the fired piece. The wet clay takes approximately 5-10 days to dry well. I wrap it in plastic and allow air flow in slowly so it does not crack the clay. This is my rendition of a Duamutef Canopic Jar.

Slip Glazed and Ready for Slow Heat

After my clay sculpture is formed and dried well I adhere several layers of gold metallic slip to the inside and outside of both pieces. Once the glaze slip is well dried I polish the pieces with a soft dry rag and then it goes in the oven for 3 hours to prepare it for high firing. This prevents the clay from going into shock from high heat too quickly.

My Hand Sculpted Duamutef Jar Completed

The final stage was taking it to a Native American Traditional Pottery Firing Ceremony. I then fired it in one of the Traditional Native American ways of making pottery. If you are interesting in seeing what that entails you can see the whole process here:

Native American Pottery Making

The Egyptian manner of baking clay was not all too different from the Native American process. It's hard to tell in the picture but my canopic jar is covered with glitter sparkles from my clay and from the quartz in the clay.

My Personal Recommendation - Canopic Urn Jar - Perfect for a special pet or friend!

The Egyptians stored their intestines inside canopic jar to preserve them in the afterlife. This beautiful Canopic Urn is cast in Bronze and feature Bastet the cat. It is a perfect Urn for someone who needs to secure their place in the afterlife.

Heiroglyphics Rubber Stamp

Own your own Egyptian Hieroglyphics with this 4 x 5 inches sized Rubber Art Stamp By Abracadabra Stamp Makers.

I'm Proud to Say, This Lens Won a Purple Star!

I am honored that Squidoo found this lens worthy of a Purple Star Award.

I hope you enjoyed my lens. Please leave your comments here. I read every comment you leave. Thank you.

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    • angela-amor profile image

      angela-amor 4 years ago

      Me encanta tu pagina , saludos

    • profile image

      tonyleather 4 years ago

      Fascinating topic for a lens! Thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks!

    • NibsyNell profile image

      NibsyNell 4 years ago

      Love the jars that you made!

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      Aunt-Mollie 4 years ago

      I love studying archaeology. So many, many mysterious remain from ancient Egyptian culture. We still cannot even understand the Great Pyramid. Enjoyed this!

    • profile image

      Auriel 4 years ago

      interesting lens.

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 4 years ago

      Really enjoyed and your copies of canopic jars are excellent

    • mrdata profile image

      mrdata 4 years ago

      Thanks for your valuable lens and congrats for your LOTD! I love reading about ancient Egypt...