From Academic Kids

Missing image

The ankh (pronounced 'ahnk') was the Egyptian hieroglyphic character that stood for the word ʿnḫ, which means life. Gods may carry it by the loop, or bear one in each hand crossed over their breast. Latinists interpreted the symbol as a crux ansata, "cross with a handle".

What it is a picture of remains a mystery to Egyptologists. Some have speculated that it represents a stylized womb. Sir Alan Gardiner speculated that it represents a sandal strap, with the loop going around the ankle. The word for sandal strap was also spelled ʿnḫ although it may have been pronounced differently. No single hypothesis has yet been widely accepted.

The ankh appears frequently in Egyptian tomb paintings and other art; it often appears at the fingertips of a god or goddess in images that represent the deities of the afterlife conferring the gift of life on the dead person's mummy. The ankh symbol was often carried by Egyptians as an amulet, either alone, or in connection with two other hieroglyphs that mean "strength" and "health." Mirrors were often made in the shape of an ankh.

A similar symbol (♀) was used to represent the Roman goddess Venus. This symbol, known benignly as Venus' handmirror, is much more associated with a representation of the female womb. In astrology the same symbol is used to represent the planet Venus, in alchemy to represent the element copper, and in biology to identify the female sex.

In Unicode, the ankh sign is U+2625 (☥).

The Luxor Hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada is built in the shape of a pyramid and is generously decorated with Egyptian hieroglyphics; however, the ankh is noticably absent from the hieroglyphics, and cannot be found anywhere in the entire hotel except for the gift shop.

The ankh is widely employed in pop culture, as a textual device to instantly communicate deep history, arcane life-forces and/or spiritual magic.

External links

fr:Ankh pt:Ankh ru:Анх sv:Ankh


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