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The origins of the Ankh

 
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anneke
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 1:41 pm    Post subject: The origins of the Ankh Reply with quote

This discussion/exploration I've been engaged in elsewhere so I thought I would share it and see what you think.

What does the Ankh sign depict?

Egyptologists do not have a commonly agreed upon theory about the origins of the ankh. Over the years several theories have been put forth. Below is a list of some of the proposed origins of the ankh:

A union of the male and female. (Thoman Inman, 1869)
The belt buckle of the mother goddess Isis. Similar to the Tyet symbol (also known as the Isis Knot). (Sir Wallis Budge, and later Westendorf)
A sandal strap where the loop is the part wrapping around the ankle. (Sir Alan Gardiner)
The sun crowning over the horizon.
The path of the sun from east to west (with the loop representing the Nile)
A stylized person
A combination of the male and female symbols of Osiris (the cross) and Isis (the oval) respectively, and therefore signifies the union of heaven and Earth.
(Pulled from wikipedia)

________________________________

Separately Philip G. (owner of pr kmt forum - Dutch language) suggested the following:
Winfred Blackman observed the following in the rural areas of Upper-Egypte in ca 1925. In her book ‘The Fellahin of Upper Egypt’ she writes p. 64: ‘Others [mothers of newborns] – and this is a very common traditions – take a piece of the umbilical cord and sow it into a piece of cotton; this is then hung around the neck of the child with a piece of cord.” On p. 79 there's a picture of such an umbilical cord wrapped in cotton, both ends tied together so that a circle is formed and so that this could even be worn around the neck of the child.

Considering the meaning of the word ankh, life, and this afore mentioned tradition that may reach back to Pharaonic times, it would not surprise me if the ankh represented the umbilical cord that would have originally been hung around the child's neck or waist to protect it and give it further life. (Idea originally communicated by Phillipe G., owner of the Dutch forum pr kmt and translated here.)

__________________________________

And Nick suggested - based on visual interpretation - that the loop represents the trace the sun makes as it travels through the sky, the horizontal bars represent the horizon and the vertical bar represents the reflection of the sun in the water. Thereby having the ankh combine some of the very basic components of egyptian beliefs: water, the sun, and the land itself.


Any thoughts? Which theories seem likely? Unlikely?
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Kiya
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm feeling it's the first one - the union of the male and female. Smile
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Daughter_Of_SETI
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always go with the sandal strap. Very Happy
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Gerard.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The path of the sun from east to west (with the loop representing the delta) Life needs sun and water.
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Osiris II
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the idea of Occam's Razor would apply here.
I agree--sandal strap.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 10:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure why the sandal strap would be a case of Occam's Razor here. The idea from linguistics that there has to be a connection between the sandal and life because their words sound similar is a rather outdated one. That line of reasoning is no longer accepted by linguists.

I'm not sure why a sandal would represent life? I guess that off all the theories listed I personally find that one the least likely.

The stylized person or the umbilical cord theory makes much more sense to me. Or even the sun rising over the horizon for that matter.
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neseret
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 10:16 pm    Post subject: Re: The origins of the Ankh Reply with quote

anneke wrote:

What does the Ankh sign depict?

Egyptologists do not have a commonly agreed upon theory about the origins of the ankh. Over the years several theories have been put forth. Below is a list of some of the proposed origins of the ankh:

A union of the male and female. (Thoman Inman, 1869)
The belt buckle of the mother goddess Isis. Similar to the Tyet symbol (also known as the Isis Knot). (Sir Wallis Budge, and later Westendorf)
A sandal strap where the loop is the part wrapping around the ankle. (Sir Alan Gardiner)
The sun crowning over the horizon.
The path of the sun from east to west (with the loop representing the Nile)
A stylized person
A combination of the male and female symbols of Osiris (the cross) and Isis (the oval) respectively, and therefore signifies the union of heaven and Earth.
(Pulled from wikipedia)

________________________________

Separately Philip G. (owner of pr kmt forum - Dutch language) suggested the following:
Winfred Blackman observed the following in the rural areas of Upper-Egypte in ca 1925. In her book ‘The Fellahin of Upper Egypt’ she writes p. 64: ‘Others [mothers of newborns] – and this is a very common traditions – take a piece of the umbilical cord and sow it into a piece of cotton; this is then hung around the neck of the child with a piece of cord.” On p. 79 there's a picture of such an umbilical cord wrapped in cotton, both ends tied together so that a circle is formed and so that this could even be worn around the neck of the child.

Considering the meaning of the word ankh, life, and this afore mentioned tradition that may reach back to Pharaonic times, it would not surprise me if the ankh represented the umbilical cord that would have originally been hung around the child's neck or waist to protect it and give it further life. (Idea originally communicated by Phillipe G., owner of the Dutch forum pr kmt and translated here.)
__________________________________

And Nick suggested - based on visual interpretation - that the loop represents the trace the sun makes as it travels through the sky, the horizontal bars represent the horizon and the vertical bar represents the reflection of the sun in the water. Thereby having the ankh combine some of the very basic components of egyptian beliefs: water, the sun, and the land itself.

Any thoughts? Which theories seem likely? Unlikely?


There's also a theory, which was presented at the ICE in 2000, that the /anx/ symbol presented a detailed symbol of female genitalia as presented at birth, symbolised by the /sA/ sign and the girdle knot (Gardiner sign S24), which represented the vagina and uterus conjoined.

Presented at ICE 2000 as (but never published):

Tredinnick, Stephen. 2000. The Origin of the Ankh: A Theory in Support of Ancient Egyptian Intelligence.

I see you also didn't mention the "ankh as symbol for a penis sheath" theory. On this, see

Baines, J. 1975. 'Ankh-Sign, Belt and penis Sheath. SAK 3: 1-24.

Friedman, F. D. 1995. The Underground Relief Panels of King Djoser JARCE Vol. 32: 1-42 (specifically Fig. 17).

I have no specific allegiance to these (or any other) theories about the /anx/, but wished to note additional theories.

HTH.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2009 1:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for adding those neseret. I had not heard of any of those, but I can see why people would pose these theories.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 1:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just to add another possibility... (although all ideas and theories can be valid)

The association of the Ankh with Life or Lifeforce on numerous levels (think Osiris as the 'green' vegitation/regenerative 'energy') may indicate the Ankh as being a physical representation of an actual SEED PLANTER

Given the great value placed on grain, crop and land-use individual grains planted at specified depths, specific distances apart might be seen as a 'life-giving' efficiency - this ancient key (agricultural tool) could then have passed through the ages to become a representation of the lifeforce itself

Of course, this 'tool' could then have been seen as a representation (due to shape etc.,) of the sun and its course through the heavens, ie; multiple levels of understanding

Just wanted to add the thought to the body of thinking... Smile
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dzama923
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have heard it was the symbol of eternal life.

I have also heard that it had to do with water, and it was literally the balance of water. This makes sense to me because there is a hieroglyph of Horus and Thoth pouring out ankhs onto the pharaoh. Something associated with water makes sense in this usage. The term described by Mark Lehner is asgat nefer, balance of water, this heiroglyph is found in the temple of Maya.

Actually that was my broken understanding of what I remembered to have read. It says actually that the ankh was life, and that water was important to life. Asgat Nefer was a key principle. The hieroglpyh for asgat nefer were three combined... A bowl above, and a calf with a knee water spout beneath and to the left, and beneath and to the right was the sign for goodness, a sort of standing oval with a cross coming up. That was asgat nefer.

reference: The Land of Osiris Stephen S. Mehler.
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Lutz
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 7:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dzama923 wrote:
... The term described by Mark Lehner is asgat nefer, ...

Question Question Question
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Lutz
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

" Mark Lehner, Egyptologist " (Tour Egypt - Jimmy Dunn)

Quote:
... Originally, Mark Lehner traveled to Egypt as a tourist in 1972. However, he was at that time a devotee of the ideas of Edgar Cayce (the Sleeping Profit) who is will known by ancient Egypt enthusiasts. Edgar Cayce was a mystic who believed that the civilization of Disney Land had entrusted their knowledge and technology to the ancient Egyptians. ...

... Mark Lehner traveled to Egypt in order to further that claim, as well as other visions of Edgar Cayce. He even published at least one book in support of Edgar Cayce's claims (The Egyptian Heritage, 1974). It is perhaps interesting that fringe elements continue today to reference this early work of Dr. Lehner, because long ago he became a convert to more traditional Egyptology. ...

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dzama923
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry about that... There is a mistake in my earlier post. What I said was
Quote:
The term described by Mark Lehner is asgat nefer, balance of water
, what I meant to say was that Stephen S Mehler describes the hieroglyph and concept asgat nefer. I got the names confused.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



Are there no vacancies in the local mental hospitals? Rolling Eyes
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