The Ankh symbol also known as key of life, the key of the Nile or crux ansata (Latin meaning “cross with a handle”), was the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic character that read “eternal life”. Egyptian gods are often portrayed carrying it by its loop, or bearing one in each hand, arms crossed over their chest. The symbolic representation of both Physical and Eternal life. It is known as the original cross, which is a powerful symbol that was first created by Africans in Ancient Egypt. The Ankh is typically associated with material things such as water (which was believed by Egyptians to regenerate life), air, sun, as well as with the Gods, who are frequently pictured carrying an Ankh. Egyptian gods carried the ankh by the loop, or held one in each hand crossed over their breast. Latinists interpreted the symbol as a crux ansata, “cross with a handle”.

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. Sometimes, in art, the Ankh was shown being touched by a god onto a person, which usually symbolized conception.

Joanna Karpowicz, “Ankh Bar”, 24 x 30 cm, acrylic on canvas, 2016

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