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13 Ancient Egyptian Symbols and Their Meanings

Travelers Today       By    Ernest Hamilton

Updated: May 19, 2021 11:39 AM EDT

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13 Ancient Egyptian Symbols and Their Meanings

(Photo: 13 Ancient Egyptian Symbols and Their Meanings)

There are various historically significant Egyptian symbols, including the ankh, the eye of Ra, the Eye of Horus, the Egyptian winged sun, and the feather of Maat. 

Ancient Egypt holds both cultural and historical significance. The cultural practices and history are expressed through various Egyptian symbols, and these symbols tell us stories about the lifestyles of ancient Egyptians.

The symbols express the teachings and stories of Egyptian gods and men, connecting the physical and the spiritual realms. Each of these symbols played a vital role in the development of the Egyptian civilization.

Now, let us look at some of these ancient Egyptian symbols and understand the meaning behind them.

1. The Ankh

This is one of the most popular symbols of ancient Egypt, and those who have seen a lot of movies must be familiar with this symbol.

This symbol is used to depict "eternal life" or a life that is neither dead nor alive. This symbol represents a connection between Osiris (the Egyptian god of death) and Isis (the Egyptian goddess of life).

2. The Eye Of Ra

The Eye of Ra is believed to be the right eye of the Egyptian sun god Ra. Ra is the strongest of all the gods and goddesses, and the Eye of Ra symbolizes great power and strength.

3. The Eye Of Horus                                                                                                                                                                               

The eye of Horus also had a similar meaning to the eye of Ra. The eye originally belonged to Horus, the sky god of Egypt. After the death of his father Osiris, Horus ruled over Egypt. His eye is said to be able to see everything, which made it easy for him to rule. And so, it symbolizes kingship, power, and the ability to overlook everything.

4. The Feather Of Maat

The feather of Maat symbolizes justice, truth, order, balance, and the law. This is because Maat is the goddess of order, harmony, law, balance, morality, truth, and justice. And the feather in the symbol is one of the many feathers in the wings of Maat, with which she flew over Egypt and maintained order and justice.

5. The Ouroboros

The Ouroboros is a symbol that represents rebirth and the cycle of life. The symbol has a circular serpent that seems to be eating its own tail, and there is a sun in the middle of the circle.

It symbolizes the rebirth of the sun god Atum, who was born from the waters of Nun and died each night, represented by the snake eating itself. Atum was reborn every morning, represented by the sun in the middle.

6. The Egyptian Winged Sun

The Egyptian winged sun is one of the oldest symbols, representing the god of the midday sun. Because of the wings and their relation to the sun, it is said that the god of the midday sun is directly related to both Ra and Horus.

And so, the symbol has a similar meaning to the eyes of Ra and Horus, meaning it symbolizes divinity, royalty, and power. The symbol is sometimes used in garments because some Egyptians believe it is also a symbol of protection.

7. The Djed

The Djed, also known as the backbone of Osiris, is a symbol that represents four pillars. It is said that these four pillars are located on the four corners of Earth.

These four pillars hold this world and prevent it from collapsing into the afterlife. This is why the Djed represents strength and stability.

8. The Tjet

The Tjet, also known as the knot of Isis, is a symbol that represents life and fertility. If the Ankh is a symbol that represents both Osiris and Isis, the Tjet is only for Isis.

It is often depicted as female genitalia, which symbolizes fertility, motherhood, and the beginning of a new life.

9. The Shen

The Shen is yet another symbol that represents eternal life. It is a rope that has neither a beginning nor an end. This is a symbol that represents eternity, infinity, completeness, and divinity. All the kings of Egypt wore this symbol because it was believed that even if the body of the kings died, the spirit lived on.

10. The Tree Of Life

Most ancient civilizations had a tree of life. The Norse had Yggdrasil, and the Egyptians have their sacred Ished Tree Of Life. 

This great tree is the source of all life, and anyone who is blessed by the tree receives eternal life and the knowledge of the universe. And so, the tree of life symbolizes immortality, wisdom, knowledge, creation, and life.

11. The Cartouche

This is also a well-known and popular Egyptian symbol. It is said that this symbol is connected to the sun god Ra, and the sun will protect anyone who wears this symbol.

This is why this symbol was worn by all Egyptian kings. It is also etched into all tombs so that even the dead can be protected by the sun in the afterlife.

12. Hekha and Nekhakha

The Hekha and Nekhakha, symbolized by a crook and a flail, are used to represent kingship and the authority to rule. The god Osiris used these symbols to showcase his authority over Egypt when he was the king.

The word Hekha means to rule, and so, the symbol Hekha and Nekhakha mean kingship, power, royalty, and authority.

13. The Scarab

The scarab is also a very popular symbol. If you have seen the movie "The Mummies", you must be familiar with this symbol. It is symbolized by a large dung beetle. 

This symbol was present in various amulets worn by Egyptian government officials and the official royal seals. This symbol represents royalty, power, divinity, growth, good luck, and transformation.

Final Thoughts

Every civilization has its own symbols and alphabets that tell the stories of those particular civilizations. The Egyptians were a very rich civilization. Thanks to these symbols and Egyptian hieroglyphics, we can now get a glimpse of the culture of the ancient Egyptian civilization.

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