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A History of the World – Object : Egyptian Anubis Mask – BBC

Mask in the form of the jackal head Anubis, ancient Egyptian god of embalming and the dead. It is made of cartonnage, layers of linen and …

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Date Published: 11/3/2021

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The Mask of Anubis

Only the pure of heart can wear the Mask to gain access to the Land of Gods in the Duat, or the Egyptian Underworld. Rufus Zeno wanted to be sent to the Duat, …

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Date Published: 4/22/2022

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Anubis – Wikipedia

Anubis also known as Inpu, Inpw, Jnpw, or Anpu in Ancient Egyptian (Coptic: ⲁⲛⲟⲩⲡ, … illustrations from the Book of the Dead often show a wolf-mask-wearing …

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Date Published: 12/16/2022

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Anubis – Death Dogs – University of Michigan

Anubis functioned as divine embalmer, and the priests who supervised the mummification of the dead would wear masks of Anubis to stand in for the god.

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Date Published: 5/25/2021

View: 4104 – Priest in Mask Discover More Story

The chief priest represented Anubis during the embalming ritual by wearing a jackal mask. He cut open the body and removed the internal organs.

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Date Published: 9/5/2022

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Ancient Egyptian Ceremonial Masks – ARCE/NC

During the 5th dynasty, images of Anubis appear most frequently in doorways. … In further pursuit of ceremonial masks used in Ancient Egypt, Professor Wolinski …

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Date Published: 10/26/2021

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Is the mask of Anubis real? Access 10 best answers & solutions.

Why d priest wear Anubis mask? Answer: This is a part of “House of Anubis” TV show. Link below may help. Read …

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Object : Egyptian Anubis Mask

This mask would have been worn by a priest during funeral rituals.Mask in the form of the jackal head Anubis, ancient Egyptian god of embalming and the dead. It is made of cartonnage, layers of linen and papyrus, stiffened with plaster and then painted. It is one of only three surviving masks made for the living and the only one allowing the wearer to speak. It would have been worn by a priest over 2000 years ago, during funeral rituals such as the ‘Opening of the Mouth’ ceremony when the mouth, eyes, nose and ears of the mummy were touched to restore the senses.

This mask once had a home in the North Yorkshire farmhouse of Benjamin or ‘Benny’ Kent. (1884-1968). Benny was a farmer from Tatefield Hall, Beckwithshaw, near Harrogate. He had inherited his interest in archaeology and much of the collection from his father Bramley. The collection was displayed upstairs in Tatefield Hall until Benny’s death in 1968, when it and other Egyptian objects were left to The Royal Pump Room Museum in Harrogate.

This mask would have been worn by a priest during funeral rituals.


This article is about the Egyptian god. For other uses, see Anubis (disambiguation)

Ancient Egyptian god of funerary rites

Anubis The Egyptian god Anubis (a modern rendition inspired by New Kingdom tomb paintings) Name in hieroglyphs

Major cult center Lycopolis, Cynopolis Symbol mummy gauze, fetish, jackal, flail Personal information Parents Nepthys and Set, Osiris (Middle and New kingdom) , or Ra (Old kingdom) . Siblings Wepwawet Consort Anput, Nephthys[1] Offspring Kebechet Greek equivalent Hades or Hermes

Anubis ( ;[2] Ancient Greek: Ἄνουβις), also known as Inpu, Inpw, Jnpw, or Anpu in Ancient Egyptian (Coptic: ⲁⲛⲟⲩⲡ, romanized: Anoup) is the god of death, mummification, embalming, the afterlife, cemeteries, tombs, and the Underworld, in ancient Egyptian religion, usually depicted as a canine or a man with a canine head.

Like many ancient Egyptian deities, Anubis assumed different roles in various contexts. Depicted as a protector of graves as early as the First Dynasty (c. 3100 – c. 2890 BC), Anubis was also an embalmer. By the Middle Kingdom (c. 2055–1650 BC) he was replaced by Osiris in his role as lord of the underworld. One of his prominent roles was as a god who ushered souls into the afterlife. He attended the weighing scale during the “Weighing of the Heart”, in which it was determined whether a soul would be allowed to enter the realm of the dead. Anubis is one of the most frequently depicted and mentioned gods in the Egyptian pantheon, however no relevant myth involved him.

Anubis was depicted in black, a color that symbolized regeneration, life, the soil of the Nile River, and the discoloration of the corpse after embalming. Anubis is associated with his brother Wepwawet, another Egyptian god portrayed with a dog’s head or in canine form, but with grey or white fur. Historians assume that the two figures were eventually combined. Anubis’ female counterpart is Anput. His daughter is the serpent goddess Kebechet.


[6] Before the Anpu or Inpu. The root of the name in ancient Egyptian language means “a royal child.” Inpu has a root to “inp,” which means “to decay.” The god was also known as “First of the Westerners,” “Lord of the Sacred Land,” “He Who is Upon his Sacred Mountain,” “Ruler of the Nine Bows,” “The Dog who Swallows Millions,” “Master of Secrets,” “He Who is in the Place of Embalming,” and “Foremost of the Divine Booth.”[7] The positions that he had were also reflected in the titles he held such as “He Who Is upon His Mountain,” “Lord of the Sacred Land,” “Foremost of the Westerners,” and “He Who Is in the Place of Embalming.”[8] In the inpw followed by a jackal[9] over a ḥtp sign:

A new form with the jackal on a tall stand appeared in the late Old Kingdom and became common thereafter:

“Anubis” is a Greek rendering of this god’s Egyptian name.Before the Greeks arrived in Egypt , around the 7th century BC, the god was known asorThe root of the name in ancient Egyptian language means “a royal child.”has a root to “inp,” which means “to decay.” The god was also known as “First of the Westerners,” “Lord of the Sacred Land,” “He Who is Upon his Sacred Mountain,” “Ruler of the Nine Bows,” “The Dog who Swallows Millions,” “Master of Secrets,” “He Who is in the Place of Embalming,” and “Foremost of the Divine Booth.”The positions that he had were also reflected in the titles he held such as “He Who Is upon His Mountain,” “Lord of the Sacred Land,” “Foremost of the Westerners,” and “He Who Is in the Place of Embalming.”In the Old Kingdom (c. 2686 BC – c. 2181 BC), the standard way of writing his name in hieroglyphs was composed of the sound signsfollowed by a jackalover asign:A new form with the jackal on a tall stand appeared in the late Old Kingdom and became common thereafter:

Anubis’ name jnpw was possibly pronounced [a.ˈna.pʰa(w)], based on Coptic Anoup and the Akkadian transcription 𒀀𒈾𒉺⟨a-na-pa⟩ in the name “Reanapa” that appears in Amarna letter EA 315.[12] However, this transcription may also be interpreted as rˁ-nfr, a name similar to that of Prince Ranefer of the Fourth Dynasty.


Anubis attending the mummy of the deceased.

In Egypt’s Early Dynastic period (c. 3100 – c. 2686 BC), Anubis was portrayed in full animal form, with a “jackal” head and body. A jackal god, probably Anubis, is depicted in stone inscriptions from the reigns of Hor-Aha, Djer, and other pharaohs of the First Dynasty. Since Predynastic Egypt, when the dead were buried in shallow graves, jackals had been strongly associated with cemeteries because they were scavengers which uncovered human bodies and ate their flesh. In the spirit of “fighting like with like,” a jackal was chosen to protect the dead, because “a common problem (and cause of concern) must have been the digging up of bodies, shortly after burial, by jackals and other wild dogs which lived on the margins of the cultivation.”

In the Old Kingdom, Anubis was the most important god of the dead. He was replaced in that role by Osiris during the Middle Kingdom (2000–1700 BC). In the Roman era, which started in 30 BC, tomb paintings depict him holding the hand of deceased persons to guide them to Osiris.

The parentage of Anubis varied between myths, times and sources. In early mythology, he was portrayed as a son of Ra. In the Coffin Texts, which were written in the First Intermediate Period (c. 2181–2055 BC), Anubis is the son of either the cow goddess Hesat or the cat-headed Bastet. Another tradition depicted him as the son of Ra and Nephthys. The Greek Plutarch (c. 40–120 AD) stated that Anubis was the illegitimate son of Nephthys and Osiris, but that he was adopted by Osiris’s wife Isis:

For when Isis found out that Osiris loved her sister and had relations with her in mistaking her sister for herself, and when she saw a proof of it in the form of a garland of clover that he had left to Nephthys – she was looking for a baby, because Nephthys abandoned it at once after it had been born for fear of Seth; and when Isis found the baby helped by the dogs which with great difficulties lead her there, she raised him and he became her guard and ally by the name of Anubis.

George Hart sees this story as an “attempt to incorporate the independent deity Anubis into the Osirian pantheon.” An Egyptian papyrus from the Roman period (30–380 AD) simply called Anubis the “son of Isis.”

In Nubia, Anubis was seen as the husband of his mother Nephthys.[23]

In the Ptolemaic period (350–30 BC), when Egypt became a Hellenistic kingdom ruled by Greek pharaohs, Anubis was merged with the Greek god Hermes, becoming Hermanubis.[25] The two gods were considered similar because they both guided souls to the afterlife. The center of this cult was in uten-ha/Sa-ka/ Cynopolis, a place whose Greek name means “city of dogs.” In Book XI of The Golden Ass by Apuleius, there is evidence that the worship of this god was continued in Rome through at least the 2nd century. Indeed, Hermanubis also appears in the alchemical and hermetical literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Although the Greeks and Romans typically scorned Egyptian animal-headed gods as bizarre and primitive (Anubis was mockingly called “Barker” by the Greeks), Anubis was sometimes associated with Sirius in the heavens and Cerberus and Hades in the underworld. In his dialogues, Plato often has Socrates utter oaths “by the dog” (Greek: kai me ton kuna), “by the dog of Egypt”, and “by the dog, the god of the Egyptians”, both for emphasis and to appeal to Anubis as an arbiter of truth in the underworld.[28]



As jmy-wt (Imiut or the Imiut fetish) “He who is in the place of embalming”, Anubis was associated with mummification. He was also called ḫnty zḥ-nṯr “He who presides over the god’s booth”, in which “booth” could refer either to the place where embalming was carried out or the pharaoh’s burial chamber.[30]

In the Osiris myth, Anubis helped Isis to embalm Osiris. Indeed, when the Osiris myth emerged, it was said that after Osiris had been killed by Set, Osiris’s organs were given to Anubis as a gift. With this connection, Anubis became the patron god of embalmers; during the rites of mummification, illustrations from the Book of the Dead often show a wolf-mask-wearing priest supporting the upright mummy.

Protector of tombs

Anubis was a protector of graves and cemeteries. Several epithets attached to his name in Egyptian texts and inscriptions referred to that role. Khenty-Amentiu, which means “foremost of the westerners” and was also the name of a different canine funerary god, alluded to his protecting function because the dead were usually buried on the west bank of the Nile. He took other names in connection with his funerary role, such as tpy-ḏw.f (Tepy-djuef) “He who is upon his mountain” (i.e. keeping guard over tombs from above) and nb-t3-ḏsr (Neb-ta-djeser) “Lord of the sacred land”, which designates him as a god of the desert necropolis.[30]

The Jumilhac papyrus recounts another tale where Anubis protected the body of Osiris from Set. Set attempted to attack the body of Osiris by transforming himself into a leopard. Anubis stopped and subdued Set, however, and he branded Set’s skin with a hot iron rod. Anubis then flayed Set and wore his skin as a warning against evil-doers who would desecrate the tombs of the dead. Priests who attended to the dead wore leopard skin in order to commemorate Anubis’ victory over Set. The legend of Anubis branding the hide of Set in leopard form was used to explain how the leopard got its spots.

Most ancient tombs had prayers to Anubis carved on them.[34]

Guide of souls

By the late pharaonic era (664–332 BC), Anubis was often depicted as guiding individuals across the threshold from the world of the living to the afterlife. Though a similar role was sometimes performed by the cow-headed Hathor, Anubis was more commonly chosen to fulfill that function. Greek writers from the Roman period of Egyptian history designated that role as that of “psychopomp”, a Greek term meaning “guide of souls” that they used to refer to their own god Hermes, who also played that role in Greek religion. Funerary art from that period represents Anubis guiding either men or women dressed in Greek clothes into the presence of Osiris, who by then had long replaced Anubis as ruler of the underworld.

Weigher of hearts

The “weighing of the heart,” from the book of the dead of Hunefer . Anubis is portrayed as both guiding the deceased forward and manipulating the scales, under the scrutiny of the ibis-headed Thoth

One of the roles of Anubis was as the “Guardian of the Scales.” The critical scene depicting the weighing of the heart, in the Book of the Dead, shows Anubis performing a measurement that determined whether the person was worthy of entering the realm of the dead (the underworld, known as Duat). By weighing the heart of a deceased person against Ma’at (or “truth”), who was often represented as an ostrich feather, Anubis dictated the fate of souls. Souls heavier than a feather would be devoured by Ammit, and souls lighter than a feather would ascend to a heavenly existence.[39][40]

Portrayal in art

Anubis was one of the most frequently represented deities in ancient Egyptian art. He is depicted in royal tombs as early as the First Dynasty.[7] The god is typically treating a king’s corpse, providing sovereign to mummification rituals and funerals, or standing with fellow gods at the Weighing of the Heart of the Soul in the Hall of Two Truths.[8] One of his most popular representations is of him, with the body of a man and the head of a jackal with pointed ears, standing or kneeling, holding a gold scale while a heart of the soul is being weighed against Ma’at’s white truth feather.[7]

In the early dynastic period, he was depicted in animal form, as a black canine. Anubis’s distinctive black color did not represent the animal, rather it had several symbolic meanings. It represented “the discolouration of the corpse after its treatment with natron and the smearing of the wrappings with a resinous substance during mummification.” Being the color of the fertile silt of the River Nile, to Egyptians, black also symbolized fertility and the possibility of rebirth in the afterlife. In the Middle Kingdom, Anubis was often portrayed as a man with the head of a jackal.[44] An extremely rare depiction of him in fully human form was found in a chapel of Ramesses II in Abydos.[6]

Anubis is often depicted wearing a ribbon and holding a nḫ3ḫ3 “flail” in the crook of his arm.[44] Another of Anubis’s attributes was the jmy-wt or imiut fetish, named for his role in embalming.

In funerary contexts, Anubis is shown either attending to a deceased person’s mummy or sitting atop a tomb protecting it. New Kingdom tomb-seals also depict Anubis sitting atop the nine bows that symbolize his domination over the enemies of Egypt.



Although he does not appear in many myths, he was extremely popular with Egyptians and those of other cultures.[7] The Greeks linked him to their god Hermes, the god who guided the dead to the afterlife. The pairing was later known as Hermanubis. Anubis was heavily worshipped because, despite modern beliefs, he gave the people hope. People marveled in the guarantee that their body would be respected at death, their soul would be protected and justly judged.[7]

Anubis had male priests who sported wood masks with the god’s likeness when performing rituals.[7][8] His cult center was at Cynopolis in Upper Egypt but memorials were built everywhere and he was universally revered in every part of the nation.[7]

In popular culture

In popular and media culture, Anubis is often falsely portrayed as the sinister god of the dead. He gained popularity during the 20th and 21st centuries through books, video games, and movies where artists would give him evil powers and a dangerous army. Despite his nefarious reputation, his image is still the most recognizable of the Egyptian gods and replicas of his statues and paintings remain popular.

See also



Further reading

Death Dogs

Anubis embalming Djehutymose, in a scene from the Djehutymose coffin

Anubis is the best known of the Egyptian jackal gods, in part because of his importance. He played a crucial role in the processes through which every person hoped to survive death and live on in the afterlife: he was in charge of the preservation of the dead body, essential in the Egyptian conception of life after death. Anubis functioned as divine embalmer, and the priests who supervised the mummification of the dead would wear masks of Anubis to stand in for the god. This divine impersonation extended to the funeral for the dead, where Anubis (in the form of a disguised priest) would present the mummy for essential ceremonies.

Beyond his specific roles in mummification and burial, Anubis had more general duties for the overall protection of the dead. Protective images of Anubis on coffins and in the form of amulets worn by the dead invoked the god’s powers on behalf of the deceased. The proliferation of Anubis images around the dead attest to the hopes the Egyptians placed in him as a protector after death.

Priest in Mask Discover More Story

Burial Rituals and Ceremonies

The air in the embalming chamber was solemnly silent and heavy with fragrant incense. A tall man with the head of a black jackal entered the room and moved toward the body on the table. The man was a priest, dressed in the ceremonial mask of Anubis. He was there to oversee the ritual creation of a mummy.

Ritual of Embalming

Opening of the Mouth Ceremony

Weighing of the Heart Ceremony

How Do We Know That?

The ancient Egyptians worshipped Anubis, the jackal god of mummification. The Egyptians believed that Anubis had three very important roles to play when a person died. First, he watched over the embalming procedures. Then, he presided over the �opening of the mouth� ceremony. Finally, Anubis led the soul of the dead person to the �weighing of the heart ceremony.�

Ritual of Embalming

Ancient Egyptians performed an elaborate embalming ritual to preserve the bodies of the deceased for the Afterlife. The chief priest represented Anubis during the embalming ritual by wearing a jackal mask. He cut open the body and removed the internal organs. He also read spells from the Book of the Dead to ward off evil spirits.

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Opening of the Mouth Ceremony

An Egyptian funeral could not take place without the �opening of the mouth� ceremony. This ceremony was thought to help the dead person�s spirit, called a Ka, return to the body. The �opening of the mouth� ceremony took place right outside the tomb. The coffin was stood upright so that the chief priest, wearing an Anubis mask, could sprinkle water on it. The priest also recited prayers, made offerings to the gods and touched the coffins painted mouth, eyes and ears. Egyptians believed that this important ceremony allowed the dead person to eat, drink and move about in the next world.

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Weighing of the Heart Ceremony

Anubis� most important role was in the �weighing of the heart� ceremony. Egyptians believed that when they died, Anubis would lead them across a desert to the Hall of Judgment. In this place, the person�s heart would be placed on a scale. On the other side of the scale would be a feather, representing Ma�at, the goddess of justice. If the heart and the feather were balanced, the person had led a just life and could move on to the next world. If the heart was heavier than the feather, the person would be punished for an unjust life. Anubis would throw the wicked heart to the monster Ammit, called the �devourer of the dead.� An unjust person was not permitted to live on in the Afterworld.

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How Did We Know That?

Anubis took on the form of a jackal because jackals were often associated with ancient Egyptian burial places. Since not every body was protected by a secure tomb, jackals often prowled Egyptian cemeteries looking for food. With Anubis, jackals lost their reputation as scavengers and became known as protectors of the dead.

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Ancient Egyptian Ceremonial Masks

Professor Arelene Wolinski teaches ancient history and Introduction to Ancient Egypt, at Mesa College in San Diego, CA. She was educated at Queens College, NY, Cal State Northridge and UCLA. She is a recognized authority on Egyptian ceremonial masks and has contributed to a number of publications such as the British Museum’s Dictionary of Ancient Egypt . Her book, Ceremonial Masks of Ancient Egypt , was published by the University of Texas in 2000.

Professor Wolinski opened her lecture by commenting on the word “mask”. Initially it was thought that there was no hieroglyph that could define a “mask”, but a careful search turned up in Raymond Faulkner’s Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian [Faulkner, 1991, p.118], quite interestingly, (msk3 ) which he translates as “skin” or “leather”. Sir Alan Gardiner in his Egyptian Grammar , gives the definition of msk3 as “hide” (of an ox) [Gardiner,1994, p.570] . It is thought that many masks may have, in fact, been made of leather.

We know that the ancient Egyptians had death masks, such as the famous golden death mask of Tutankhamun. Professor Wolinski’s interest, however, centers around ceremonial masks, which she believes were worn by priests in the discharge of their ritual duties. Initially it was thought that no such ritual masks had ever been found. In the course of her research, however, Professor Wolinski learned that the Roemer-Pelizaeus Museum at Hildesheim in Germany, has such a mask of Anubis. The helmet mask has half-moon cutouts in the sides of the mask so it will sit firmly over the wearer’s shoulders, eye holes to see through and air holes to allow the

wearer to breath. When she went to Hildesheim to view the mask, she learned that no one had ever tried it on, and did so with the help of the museum’s curators, in order to assure that the mask had, in fact, been made for wearing.

As a result of her research, Professor Wolinski, has proposed a new artistic convention to determine when a representation – wall painting, sculpture, wall relief, etc. – is that of a human, usually a male, probably a priest, wearing a mask, vice a human or a supernatural animal-headed being. To illustrate her theory she referenced the ceremony in which a new falcon is presented each year as the embodiment of the god Horus. Reliefs picturing this ceremony feature a falcon-headed man presenting the new sacred bird. Professor Wolinski postulates that the picture is actually of the Pharaoh wearing a falcon mask, and she believes this portrayal to be an artistic convention that seems to hold true throughout Egyptian art. When only one lappet is pictured, the image is of either a man [or the king], or a non-human being. But when double lappets appear in front, laying on the chest, it is the convention for a man/priest/king wearing a mask. The lappets of the masks were probably weighted to help balance the mask. 85% of the images she has investigated display the double lappet convention. The priest’s mask in the collection at Hildesheim was collected by Gaston Maspero and has been in the museum’s collection since 1896. At the time Maspero suggested that it might be a priest’s mask and that the images might, in fact, represent priests or priestesses wearing masks. In 1934, Margaret Murray commented with some disappointment that nobody had picked up on Maspero’s “priest mask” observation. The Hildesheim mask has, as noted earlier, both eye holes and air holes, however the eye holes are not where the eyes of the Anubis figure are located. Rather they are beneath the image’s chin, as there is a structure inside the mask into which the wearer’s head fits, and the Anubis image actually sits above the wearer’s head. The mask is ceramic, probably about 4,000 years old, and

weights 17 pounds. Having tried the mask on, Professor Wolinski confirmed that it is possible to move about while wearing the mask. She noted, however that one has no peripheral vision, so it would probably have been necessary for the wearer to have one or more attendants to assist him, such as is shown in a relief from the temple at Dendera. The relief was sketched by Auguste Mariette in 1873, and is of a priest with an Anubis mask on his head, being assisted by a priest who walks behind him guiding him as he moves forward. The image is in the lower register on a wall in the antechamber to the zodiac ceiling room at the temple at Dendera. The image, curiously, is heading to the left, versus the right as Mariette’s drawing was printed when etched. This doorway is, in fact, a logical place for an image of Anubis, the Guardian of the Seven Gates into the next world. During the 5th dynasty, images of Anubis appear most frequently in doorways.

In contemplating how a masked priest could get to the terrace in the temple, when sight was so greatly impaired, Professor Wolinski noted that the back stairway of the temple at Dendera features stairs with a mere 4-inch rise, which could be easily managed by a priest in a long robe with a mask on, possibly even alone, as the stairwell is narrow enough to rest a hand on each wall while negotiating the stairs.

In further pursuit of ceremonial masks used in Ancient Egypt, Professor Wolinski researched a wooden Anubis mask in the collection at the Louvre. The mask of carved, painted wood, has an articulated lower jaw and eye holes, and would have fit over the face of the wearer. Around the periphery of the mask are holes which were likely used to attach the mask’s wig, or a combination wig and long cloak, kilt or robe.

Professor Wolinski believes that the repeated masked images on wall reliefs are “working priests”. At the temple at Edfu a train of priest wearing masks – Anubis, Horus, etc.- have been defaced. Only the faces have been hacked out, however. She suggested that it might be that some of these reliefs had inlays in the place of the faces, which were most desirable to pillagers. When thinking about how the ancients came to “masking” as a ritual activity, one needs only to look at feathered headdresses and ritualized costumes. The golden falcon mask from the Tutankhamun treasures, though more a headdress than a mask, has piercings around the bottom edge to which a robe or other garment was probably affixed. It is natural for people

to want to “see” their gods so that they may relate more directly to them. Masks and

costumes related to those masks, which may be worn by a consecrated group of religious officials, are a natural means of representing the gods/goddesses that are part of a culture.

Many cultures, both ancient and modern-day, use masks to represent deities or spirits. African tribes south of the Sahara who have a long history of using masks to represent the spirit world. In North America, southwestern Indians, particularly at Hopi and Zuni, likewise have a long history of using “katcina” masks to impersonate deities. Throughout the Northwest Coast of the US and Canada, coastal tribes have used masks, dance hats and frontlets for centuries to represent supernatural beings, and particularly animals who are believed to personify supernatural powers. When personifying a deity, many cultures believe that the spirit of the deity is manifested in the wearer during the time the costume or mask is being worn. Though there is scant evidence for costumes that accompanied masks in Ancient Egypt, the British

Museum does have in its collection, a crocodile suit, made of crocodile skin, and with a hood of crocodile skin that could quite easily have been attached to a mask of the god Sobek. There are very few representations of female deities wearing masks. Almost all are of males deities. Only Bastet and Sekhmet are sometimes represented as masked priestesses. Professor Wolinski suggested that additionally, priestesses wore only face masks, not helmet masks. It would be easy to obscure the edges of a face mask with a female wig so a helmet to cover the entire head would not have been needed.

In support of her theory, Professor Wolinski noted that the Pharaoh had to be crowned by the gods. The wearer of a mask therefore assumed the power of the god when donning the mask, so was a logical “stand in” for the god. At the conclusion of the coronation ceremony, the king was then authorized to wear the mask of Horus whom he now personified. Another supporting find, is that some statuettes of

gods/goddesses have removable masks. A particular example is a small statuette of Isis holding the infant Horus in her lap. Isis wears a gold mask that can be removed by sliding it forward away from her head. The infant’s face is only partially formed in the casting of the metal, suggesting that it too once had a gold mask affixed to the face, now missing.

Other masks of interest include a mask of Bastet, found by Petrie under the foundation at the Kahun with a collection of midwife materials. A birth brick recently found at Abydos shows a Hathor image on a pole that Professor Wolinski suggested is, in fact, a mask that may have been worn during the actual birth. At Ancient Nekhen [Hierakonpolis] two terracotta, predynastic masks have been found during excavation, which are face sized, and clearly were used ceremonially, but by whom is unclear. Possibly by a priests, but it is also possible that they were used by mourners, or even placed on the face of a deceased person. One mask has cat-like eyes, and the remnants of hair which was attached, possible as a headdress. The other is almost diamond shaped with almond shaped eyes and a smiling mouth. It seems to have had small horns attached on each side of the forehead. Storage of powerful masks is an important consideration. In her book, Ceremonial Masks of Ancient Egypt , Professor Wolinski notes, “that the ancient Egyptians kept their most powerful ritual objects inside the cult temple is not questioned and that they kept the most important mask(s) inside the innermost rooms is beyond ‘reasonable doubt’. Other masks were probably kept in different storerooms and the treatment of these masks was probably similar to those we can study in other masking societies in Africa.” [Wolinski, 2000, p.63] There are surviving reliefs that may also tell us how

masks were stored. In the tomb of Piankaf a wall relief depicts a series of “mummiforms” some with gods heads, but two with human heads. Professor Wolinski believes that these mummiforms served as stands for the masks, and that the two human headed forms are forms whose masks are out and in use, so to speak.

The materials masks were probably made from [stiffened linen, plaster, papier mache, woven reed, leather, quilted fabrics, etc.] were, for the most part, highly perishable. Just as no ancient Egyptian crowns, which are postulated to have been made of woven reed, plastered linen, etc., have survived, only a very few masks have survived. That there are five in existence is quite remarkable. The two oldest date from about 3600BC and are from Nekhen. Additionally we have

the 12th Dynasty cartonage mask of Bastet found by Petrie at the Kahun (now in the collection of the Manchester Museum), the wooden Anubis mask (in the collection at the Louvre), and the clay Anubis mask (at Hildesheim). In closing, Professor Wolinski postulated that the Greek tradition of theater masks may very well have developed out of the Egyptian mask tradition. The timing is right in terms of when masks first appeared in the Greek theater.

— Nancy Corbin

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