2021 . Mar . 24

29 Popular Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Symbols and Meanings

To better understand why Ancient Egyptians used Amulets or Symbols during their life or in sarcophagus and tombs, we must know about their beliefs.

The Ancient Egyptians believed that their life on earth is temporary, but the permanent one is after their death and after passing the 12 Portal of the World of death. They were sure that they would come back to life like everything around them, The Nile, the Sun, and even plants; they disappear then appear again.

For Egyptians, the human being consists of the Body "Khet," Consort or "ghost" "Ka'', `` Heavenly Spirit "Ba," Name "Ren," & the Heart "Ib". When coming back to life, they will need a complete body, so they went to the Mummification, so the Ka & the Ba could find the body. The name was also essential to help them recognize death; that's why they invent the "Cartouche".

The Heart will be left in the mummified body to witness with or against the disease during the second world's last judgment. So they invent some amulets to force the heart to be with the deceased. The long Egyptian History is full of legends like World Creation, Isis & Osiris, or some deities. We Will Review Here The Most Popular Symbols in Egyptian Civilization.

29 popular ancient egyptian hieroglyphic symbols and meanings

1- Canopic Jars Symbol

Ancient Egyptian believed that death is the first step toward resurrection and eternal life; that's why they were making sure to save their bodies from any corruption after death by mummification.

What Canopic Jars Are Symbolize, And What The Jars Used To Protect?

A set of four embalming jars symbolizing the four sons of Horus, each Jar protects an organ belonging to the Deceased. They used to move out all the body's internal organs except the heart, as they believed it's the soul's seat. And they were embalming the intestines, lungs, the stomach, and liver, then wrapping them with linen and keeping each organ of them in a separated Canopic Jar.

Each Jar has a headed lid representing one of Horus's sons, and each has a specific organ to keep safe.

  • • Hapi, the baboon-headed god, guards the lungs.
  • • Duamutef, the jackal-headed god, guards the stomach.
  • • Imsety, the human-headed god, guards the liver.
  • • Qebehsenuef, the falcon-headed god, guards the intestines.

canopic jars ancient egyptian symbols and meaning tripidays egypt tours

2- The Ankh (Key Of Life)

Ankh symbol is the most common decorative motif in ancient Egypt and by neighboring cultures, as an Egyptian symbol of protection and other things.

How was The Ankh symbol shaped?

The most commonly used and known symbol since the early Dynasty is the Ankh; you probably know it by life's key. It's an ancient Egyptian symbol that looks like a cross with a looped top in a teardrop's shape; it is one of the Egyptian characters most commonly used in tattoos.

What Is The Ankh symbol used In Ancient Egyptian?

This symbol was used in Hieroglyphic writing and Egyptian art to represent the word "life," you'll find it a lot in the tomb paintings and inscriptions on the temples' walls, so it is one of the Egyptian symbols used in the alphabet. The Egyptians also wore it as an amulet, so it is a symbol for protection.

What Ankh symbolizes, and Why was it held in the ancient Egyptian deities?

The Ankh symbolizes many things like the power to sustain life and revive human souls in the afterlife; that's why it was commonly held in the hands of ancient Egyptian deities or given by them to a pharaoh. It also symbolizes the promise of eternal life, the Sun, fertility, and light. The symbol was placed among the mummy wrapping to secure the deceased's rebirth and well-being in the afterlife.

The mystery behind the Ankh symbol

This symbol's origin is still a mystery; one theory says it originated from a sandal strap. Others suggest it was the belt buckle of goddess Isis, but we certainly know it is associated with life.

ankh key of life photo symbol ancient egyptian

3- The Scarab Beetle

The Egyptian Scarab beetle, one of the most common symbols in ancient Egypt and the most popular, was worn by the living and the dead as an Egyptian symbol of protection and death.

Where did the Beetle Scarab come from?

The Scarab beetle comes from a species of the dung beetle. The idea came from rolling the dung into a ball and laying its eggs in it, and when the eggs hatched, the dung was served as food for them. When Egyptians saw this phenomenon, they immediately associated the Scarab Khepri with the sun god Ra as his assistant because scarabs roll large balls of dung to lay their eggs. Hence, they thought this resembles the progression of the Sun through the sky from east to west.

What does the scarab beetle symbolize and represent in ancient Egypt?

Scarab is the symbol of death, rebirth, immortality, and protection in the afterlife; it is much used in funerary art; later, it referred to the idea of existence, transformation, and divine manifestation.

scarab beetle symbol ancient egyptian

4- Eye of Horus

The Eye of Horus is one of the most famous Egyptian Symbols; today, we use it in jewelry and paintings. It is a widely used Egyptian Symbol in tattoos. The left eye of Horus represents protection, health, and restoration, so it is an Egyptian symbol of protection.

What does the Eye of Horus symbolize?

Another story says that Horus took his left eye out for his father Osiris to eat to bring him back to life. In both stories, the Eye was a symbol for healing and being whole again. Although the ancient Egyptian civilization came to an end, the belief the Eye of Horus energy continued and still used. It's usually made of gold, lapis lazuli, and carnelian mainly.

What is the Hieroglyphic meaning of the Eye of Horus?

Also, in hieroglyphic writing, the Eye of Horus was used as a mathematical symbol; every part of the six represents a measurement unit. Ex: the right side equal ½, the pupil ¼, the eyebrow 1/8, etc. More fractions were created by adding parts together. The most interesting is by adding all parts, the result is 63/64 and never 64/64. The missing piece represents the magic Power of Thot or the fact that nothing is perfect.

The Myth behind the Eye of Horus and its meaning

According to Osiris and Isis' famous Myth, when Horus reached adulthood, he thought to avenge his father's death; he fought his uncle Set, and during the battle, Horus lost his left Eye that broke into six pieces. Thot, the god of Wisdom, magically restored Horus's Eye, and then it became known as "Wadjet': which means ''whole or "healthy, "and they started to believe it has healing power. Due to its protective and healing power, Horus’ Eye was used as an amulet for living and dead.

eye of horus symbol ancient egyptian

5- Eye of Ra

The Eye of Ra is a symbol of authority and protective powers. It is associated with the Sun God Ra. Although it is associated with the destructive power of the Sun, it was used to protect buildings and people, so it is an Egyptian symbol of protection.

What is the difference between the Eye of Ra and the Eye of Horus?

The Eye of Ra is differentiated from Horus' Eye by drawing it as the right Eye. It is more powerful than Horus, as Ra's Power of vision is unlimited. Ra was one of the most powerful gods in Ancient Egypt; that is why his eyes "can see everything.”

What is the Myth behind the Eye of Ra?

Egyptians believe that Ra took his sun-boat every day when the Sunset into the water and passed the 12 gates of the Underworld in the 12 hours of the night, then came back in the morning. That's why they used to build their tombs on the left side of the Nile to enable the deceased to accompany Ra during his trip in the netherworld so he won't stay in darkness.

A myth tells that Ra sent his Eye to watch over his children and protect them. Another one tells that when Ra became an old god, men maltreated him, so he sent his Eye or his daughter to punish humanity. The daughter raged and began to destroy humanity, but Ra, to rescue humanity, gave his Eye a red bear until it came drunk, peaceful, and returned to him.

Sometimes the Eye of Ra was depicted as the sun disc encircled with two cobras.

eye of ra symbol ancient egyptian

6- Hekha and Nekhakha (Crook and Flail)

The crook is known in ancient Egypt as The Heka; its early use was by shepherds to control his sheepfold. The Flail was known as the Nakhakha, also has a farmer origin, and it symbolizes the King’s power as it was a source of punishment to maintain order in society. The Flail is considered an Egyptian symbol of strength. They both date back to the Early dynastic period during the rule of the first king, Narmer.

What do the Crook and Flail symbolize?

The Crook and Flail are symbolic of Kingship, signifying the Pharaoh's dominion over Egypt’s land and Egyptian royalty symbols. They are seen with every King and Queen who ever ruled Egypt. They also symbolized that the Pharaoh is the shepherd for his people and provided them with food. They were usually made of wood and covered with gold.

Why did Pharaohs carry a Crook and a Flail?

Crook and Flail were associated first with Geb, the god of earth, and Osiris inherited them. Hekha and Nekhakha were usually put with the Pharaoh in its tomb; he held them in both hands in a cross form on the chest to symbolize the divine authority.

crook and flail symbol ancient egyptian

7- Uraeus (Ancient Egyptian Cobra)

Uraeus, or the Cobra, is one of Egypt's most ancient symbols. It was the emblem of Lower Egypt. It was an Egyptian goddess symbol that represented the Goddess of Royalty and sovereignty, Wadjet. The Cobra was believed to have magical powers, and its presence on a royal crown means "Protection of enemies." Geb, the god of the earth, gave it to the pharaohs as a sign of Kingship; therefore, it was an Egyptian symbol of protection.

What is the Myth behind the Uraeus?

The first Myth is connected to the origin of Uraeus in the Story of Ra; it is believed that goddess Isis made the first one from the dust of the earth and the spittle of Sun to acquire the throne for her husband, Osiris. Later, it was seen on the Kings' crowns, and the most famous is one of Sensuret II; it was made of solid gold and black granite eyes measuring 6.7cm in length.

uraeus or cobra symbol ancient egyptian

8- Lotus

It’s a symbol of Upper Egypt; it appeared bonded to the Papyrus as a sign of unification of the two Egyptian kingdoms, the upper and lower. It was also associated with the Sun God Ra and later with Nefertum, the god of healing, medicine, and beauty.

What does the Lotus Symbol mean?

The Lotus flower was called 'Sesen' in the Egyptian language; it is considered an Egyptian symbol in the alphabet. It wasn't only famous in ancient Egypt; it is also popular in Buddism and Hindusim. The Lotus Symbol was associated with purity and cleanliness, also a symbol of Sun, creation, and rebirth.

Where was the Lotus Symbol found?

The Lotus flower is an ancient Egyptian symbol found a lot among hieroglyphic writing in tombs, on Papyrus, thrones, and the headdress of divine pharaohs. It was also found in the book of death; there is a magic charm that can transform the dead into a Lotus flower, thus allowing his resurrection.

What are the types of the Lotus flower?

There were two types of the lotus flower in ancient Egypt, the white and the Blue (the water lily), and at a later time, the pink one came to Egypt from Persia.

What does the Lotus Flower symbolize?

As the Lotus flower retracts into the water at night and then emerges the next day, it is associated with the Sun, which disappears in the night and re-emerges in the morning. That's why it was a symbol of rebirth and regeneration. It is also an Egyptian symbol for love, as the lovers gave it to each other as a token for their love.

lotus symbol ancient egyptian

9- Nemes Headdress

Remember the famous Golden mask of King Tut Ankh Amen? The boy-king was wearing a Nemes Headdress. It is a fabric head-cloth of Blue and gold reaching the shoulders and was worn by ancient Egypt's rulers.

What does the Nemes Headdress symbolize?

The Nemes dates as far back as the third Dynasty during the reign of King Djoser. The fourth Dynasty became the Royal Headdress, so it became an Egyptian symbol of Royalty. Later, Nemes’ use became a funerary representation of the Royal Ka, and it was worn by goddess Isis & Nephthys while performing their roles of mourners.

nemes headdress symbol ancient egyptian

10- The Ka

What does the Ka mean?

The Ka means soul or spirit; it was like a person's twin live inside his body until death. After death, the Ka would leave the body, but not for good. If the body is well preserved, the Ka would return to it again and lead him through the 12 portals of the infernal world till the resurrection. That's why ancient Egyptians were mummifying the deceased's body so that the Ka could recognize him and find its way back to it. Because the "Ka" remains alive, they put food and drinks inside the tomb to find what it needs to go through resurrection.

What is the Ka represented with?

The Ka is usually represented by two arms reaching up to the sky in the ancient Egyptian language.

ka statue and symbol ancient egyptian

11- The Red Crown "Deshret"

Once Egypt was divided into two kingdoms; Lower Egypt, the Kingdom of the north, around Nile Delta, and Upper Egypt, the Kingdom of the south. Each Kingdom has its Crown; the Red Crown belongs to the Lower Egypt Kingdom. Some gods and goddesses were depicted wearing this Crown to show that the ruler was blessed and protected by gods.

What does the Red crown symbolize?

The Deshret symbolized the authority over Lower Egypt for whoever wears it. The Red Crown distinguishes the King's Forehead with the Cobra, the Egyptian goddess symbol of "Wadjet," the protector of Lower Egypt.

deshret red crown ancient egypt symbol and meaning

12- The White Crown "Hedjet"

What is the Hedjet, and what does it symbolize?

The Crown of Upper Egypt, the South Kingdom, around the Nile Valley from south of Memphis to Aswan. It has a conical shape with white color, an Egyptian symbol of Royalty and Upper Egypt; later, it was combined with the Red Crown "Deshret."

Who in Egypt wore the Hedjet?

The vulture Goddess Nekhbet was mostly depicted wearing it and the Falcon God Horus as well. While the King was wearing the White Crown, Nekhbet, the Vulture goddess, sometimes distinguished the King's forehead as upper Egypt protector.

The White Crown Hedjet ancient egyptian symbol and meaning

13- The Double Crown "Pschent"

What does the Pschent symbolize?

It was a symbol of unified Egypt, and Kings usually wear this Crown to show their control all over Egypt and as an Egyptian symbol of Royalty. When King Menes or Narmer unified Egypt in the 2nd Dynasty (about 3200 BC) and became the King of North & South Egypt, the Crown of the ruler became a combination of Crowns, the Red and White, which symbolized Lower and Upper Egypt.

The Double Crown Pschent ancient egypt symbol

14- Blue Crown "Khepresh"

What does the blue crown "Khepresh" represent and symbolize?

Khepresh is known as the War Crown, and its blue color represents the sky. Kings of the New Kingdom wore this crown during their wars as a symbol of sky protection and as an Egyptian symbol of Royalty. The first one was made for the Pharaoh Amenophis III, which is considered to be the evolved version of the cap crown. On the other hand, archeological prove that it dates back to the Second Intermediate Period, as shown on Karnak Stela of Neferhotep III.

What was the blue crown made of?

The Khepresh was made from rubber or cloth painted blue, adorned by golden discs and a twisting Uraeus – goddess Wadjet- in the front.

When was the blue crown worn?

The Blue crown was mainly worn in wars, but Ramses II was painted wearing it to celebrate his victory over the Hittites, then it became a ceremonial crown of the King.

Blue Crown Khepresh ancient egypt symbol of war ramses II wearing it to celebrate his victory over the Hittites

15- Ouroboros

What is the Ouroboros?

The "Ouroboros" is one of the most significant & unique Egyptian symbols in Ancient Egypt. The Egyptian name for it was "Sed m ra" which means "tail in the mouth," It depicts a serpent with its tail in its mouth continually devouring itself and reborn from itself.

What does the Ouroboros symbolize?

This is the symbol of rebirth, perpetuity & immortality used in Egypt since 1600 B.C. It first appeared in King Tut's Tomb as a part of the book of the netherworld in the 14th century B.C.

What does the Ouroboros mean?

Ouroboros also has several meanings. The lower part of it symbolizes the destructive force of nature, the night, and the yin. The Upper part symbolizes the generation, creative force, the day, and the yang.
This symbol entered the Western World via some magical Papyrus. The name "Ouroboros" is a Greek name that means "devouring tail" and symbolizes Eternity "The Beginning & The End."

What was the Ouroboros symbol used for?

It was a very popular symbol during the Roman era; it was used in magical talismans and emblems. It is one of the Egyptian symbols used as a tattoo nowadays.

ouroboros ancient egypt symbol meaning and what used for

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