Mask of the God Anubis

This mask represents the head of the black jackal, Anubis, the god of cemeteries and mummification. He wears the striped nemes headdress; a large part of it is missing but it still has some golden stripes. The eyebrows and whiskers are also gilded. The eyes are in a very good condition.

This mask was worn by the priest, who was responsible for the embalming, during the process of mummification. The ears of Anubis are always erect to show the thoughtful attitude of the jackal, as the protector god of the necropolis.

Mask of the god Anubis. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 55620
Mask of the god Anubis. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 55620

Anubis or Anpu was the god of embalming and the dead. Since jackals were often seen in cemeteries, the ancient Egyptians believed that Anubis watched over the dead. Anubis was the god who helped to embalm Osiris after he was killed by Seth.

In some versions of ancient Egyptian religious beliefs Anubis assisted in the mummification and rebirth of the god Osiris. This responsibility for mummification and eventual rebirth is the same role Anubis fulfils for the human dead.

As the god ‘who is in the embalming tent’ he oversees the process of mummification, and is often shown leaning over the mummified body. Anubis also supports the upright mummy near the tomb entrance in Opening of the Mouth ceremonies, where rituals ensure the justified dead will be able to breathe, speak and see again.

New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty to 20th Dynasty, ca. 1550-1070 BC. Wood, from Armant, Luxor. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 55620