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Anubis, The God of Mumification and the Hereafter


Anubis is one of immortal gods in the ancient Egyptian mythology whose importance is attributed to his great role in the underworld as the protector of the dead bodies. He was called as the Lord of Mummy Wrapping. Moreover, in the papyrus of Nisti-Ta-Nebet-Taui that dates back to the 21 dynasty, he is called the “Lord of the Holy Land” who brings gifts and blessings for the people as a present for Osiris Anubis. The usual depiction of Anubis is as a Jackal headed man or a complete Jackal. The reason for associating the figure of this animal in particular with Anubis is the fact that jackals were usually seen nearby the cemeteries and thus the people thought that they were protecting the dead bodies. Some historians argue that these animals were surrounding the cemeteries to feed on the sacrifices left there. As indicated in the Coffin Texts, Anubis was the son of Nephthys that was claimed to be the son of Seth but Isis realized that he was the result of the secret affair between Osiris and Nephthys. As mentioned in the myth of Osiris, Nephthys tried to get ride of her son at the moment of his birth, but Isis saved him and managed to gain the support and trust of him and his mother who helped her in searching for her husband’s body. He was responsible for protecting Isis and was truly faithful to her and he helped her to escape from the prison of Seth. It was known that Anubis was knowledgeable of the human language and the art of mummification and many other things. Thus he was commanded by Ra to help Isis in reassembling the body of Osiris and embalming it in the white clothes of the dead. One of the vignettes of the Book of the Dead highlight that he uttered some words that helped Osiris to return to life again and this made the people dignify him hoping that he would treat them in the same way he dealt with his father in the afterlife. Anubis is depicted performing various roles in the underworld including the role of the “Counter of Heats” who receives the recently deceased bodies and mummifies it to protect the mortal parts of the body. This justifies the appearance of the priests with the head of jackal of Anubis while mummifying the kings. He is presented on the walls of the kings’ temples standing next to the “God’s Booth” with the jars of the essential needs for glorifying the deceased king. Other inscriptions of Anubis demonstrate that he once occupied the post of the god who weighs the heart of the deceased and write his judgment. Some wall paintings present Anubis in the scene of supporting the mummy while opening the mouth of the dead. One of the most interesting old myths says that Ammit, or the eater of the dead, is the god responsible for destroying those who fail in the arbitration of Anubis i.e. whose heart’s weight exceeds the weigh of the feather. Ammit was depicted as a supernatural animal with the head of a crocodile, the body of a lion, and the head hippopotamus. There are many statues for Anubis and wall paintings depicting him performing several roles. The most admired depictions for Anubis can be found in the tombs in Abydos and Aswan in addition to the handsome paintings of him in the Book of the Dead. The tomb of Tutankhamun was also supplied with a large number of statues for Anubis in the jackal form, displayed in the Egyptian Museum now.

– The Tale of The Two Brothers

This is one of the marvelous myths that present the ancient Egyptian gods in the form and characteristics of ordinary human beings but with some supernatural power that helps them in maintaining justice and order in the world. It is believed that it is an imagination of a conflict between two minor gods that ended happily by the reunion. The heroes of the myth are two brothers: the elder’s name is Anubis, while the second’s name is Bata. They were living together and helping each other in the daily work of farming and keeping the herds and so. Bata was responsible for taking care of the cattle and he was able to talk to them and understand their speech to the extent that he was sleeping in the stable to guard those animals. Anubis was married to a very handsome but vicious wife that was the reason for the conflict between Bata and Anubis. One day Anubis and Bata went to plant the seeds together but they needed more seeds and thus Bata returned and asked Anubis’ wife to bring him the seeds. The woman refused to help him pretending that she is busy in dressing her hair and when she saw the strong muscles of Bata she was fascinated with him and tried to seduce him but he rejected her. When she lost hope in having what she want, she begged him to keep what happened as a secret and tell no one about that and he promised her. As a kind of revenge from Bata who rejected her and her fear from Anubis’ punishment if he knew the truth, she plotted against Bata by injuring herself and taking some medicine that made her vomit. When Anubis returned home and found her in that severe conditions and asked her about the reason, she lied on him saying that Bata was trying to rape her when he came from the farm and when she rejected him he attacked her. Anubis was infuriated to the extent that he took his spear and hid in a certain place in the stable to attack his brother and kill him. When the poor Bata entered the stable one of the cows warned him saying that Anubis is hiding to harm him and he should take care and another one repeated the same warning. At that moment Bata saw the feet of Anubis from the place he is hiding in and thus he ran away and prayed for Ra-Herakhty to save him from his brother who wants to kill him for the false accusation of his malicious wife. Ra-Herakhty helped Bata by separating between him and his angry brother with a great body of water full of crocodiles and monsters that would keep Anubis away from Bata. Before leaving, Bata tried to explain the whole truth for his brother telling him that his vicious wife is the one who tried to seduce him and when he snubbed her she tried to sow dissension between us as a kind of revenge. Bata cut his pines and threw it for the monsters of the water body to eat and told his brother that he would go to the Valley of Cedars, take off his heart and put it on a cedar tree and live as incomplete man and if the flower was cut, he would die. He said that if Anubis looked for the heart of his brother for seven years and after finding it placed it in a glass of water and helped his dead brother to drink it, he would return to life. Bata told his brother that when he finds his beer boiling in the cup he should know that he is in danger and in need for his help. Later on Anubis managed to discover the mean plot of his wife and severely punished her for spoiling the good relation between him and his younger brother by killing her. The gods rewarded Bata by making a handsome woman who encompasses the features of mortal women and immortal goddesses at the same time to be his wife. Bata commanded his wife to stick to her home in the Valley of the Cedar and never leave it for fear that the sea may carry her to any remote place, since he, as an incomplete man whose heart is on the top of a Cedar flower, would not be able to protect her. One day she disobeyed him and went nearby the sea that attacked her trying to kidnap her, but he managed only to take one of her locks and carry it away to the shore of Egypt. The lock of the divine wife of Bata perfumed the water of the river and the clothes of the king that were washed in that water. When the king smelled that enchanting perfume and found the lock, he asked about the woman of such heavenly beauty and ordered his soldiers never return without her. The soldiers found Bata’s wife and brought it to the king who was at once haunted by her seductive beauty. The woman told the king that she is the wife of a man whose heart is placed on the top of a Cedar, thus the king ordered to have the tree cut to get ride of the husband of that woman. In that way, Bata was in danger and Anubis knew that when he found his beer boiling in the cup. Thus he went to the Valley of the Cedar to look for his brother and his heart. He found the body of Bata in his house while the heart and the cedar were not there any more. Anubis looked for the heart day and night for three years, and finally he decided to stop looking. In the last day of searching he found a mere berry from the cedar tree and decided to take it home as a memento. When he placed that berry, it turned to be the heart of Bata and as soon as it was placed in water he opened his eye. Anubis helped his brother to drink the water and his heart, and this helped him to regain his life. Anubis and Bata decided to return back to Egypt where his wife was living with the king imagining that Bata was dead. Bata planed to avenge from his treacherous wife by the assistance of Anubis. He said that he would take the form of a huge and remarkable bull and Anubis would take it as a present for the king and his wife and was rewarded by taking its weight in gold. One morning, the wife of the king passed nearby the bull she heard the voice of Bata saying that he is still alive in the form of a bull despite of her vicious attempt of cutting the cedar. At that moment the wife was enraged and used her charm to make her husband butcher that ox and give her the liver to eat. Despite the king’s admiration with the ox, he yielded to the wish of his wife. While butchering the bull, two drops of Batat’s blood felt next to the palace and by the passage of time they became two attractive persea trees that were admired by the king and his wife. One day the queen came to see the trees, while she heard the voice of her former husband again saying that he is still living in these trees. She at once ordered to have the trees cut and used to make a charming piece of furniture in the palace. While cutting the trees a small piece of wood of the tree that encloses the soul of Bata entered from the mouth of the woman to her womb and this made her pregnant in a baby boy who ascended to the throne after the death of the king. One day the son called for his consultants and told them the whole truth about his real father and the betrayal of his mother and her attempts to kill Bata. He confessed that he is both Bata and his son at the same time and the wicked mother and wife confessed her sin and was sentenced to death at the end. After that the king, son of Bata, excessively rewarded his loyal uncle who punished his wife for her conspiracy against Bata and worked hard to find the heart of his brother in the Valley of the Cedar. After the death of the king, Anubis occupied the position of the king of Egypt.

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