One legend has Anubis the son of Nephthys and Osiris. The union took place while Nephthys was the consort of Seth.

Fearing Seth’s wrath, Nephthys exposed the infant when he was born. Soon after Seth killed Osiris, and when looking for the body parts of Osiris in the delta marshes Isis found the child and adopted him. Anubis was among the deities who helped Isis magically reassemble Osiris.

In other traditions Anubis is the son of Re and Nephthys or Isis.

Anubis is the god of mortuaries. He took the form of a black dog or jackal usually in a lying down or crouching position, ears pricked and a long hanging tail. He wore a collar of magical connotations. Less frequently he was pictured as a human with a canine head.

Perhaps the imagery of the dog origination from the observation of bodies being scavenged from shallow graves and the desire to protect them from such a fate by manifesting Anubis as a dog himself.

In the Book of the Dead Anubis is standing by the scales in which the heart is weighed in the Hall of the Two Truths, and he is sometimes known as the «claimer of hearts».

Anubis was perceived to superintend the embalming of kings and courtiers in the mortuary and the subsequent binding with linen bandages.

The color of his coat was thought to be black because of the color of the corpse after the embalming process, which darkened it, and the use of black tar to seal the bindings. His symbol in the context of the mortuary god is an animal skin headdress, dripping blood and tied to a pole.

At the subsequent funeral ceremony of the Opening of the Mouth, the priest wore a jackal headdress. The main cemetery sites were on the west side of the Nile where the sun sets, hence on epithet for Anubis was «chief of the westernersy,» another «he who is upon the mountain» conjures an image of Anubis guarding the cemeteries from high encampments.

During the Greco-Roman period Anubis became a cosmic deity of the earth and sky, thus losing some of his former function. A.G.H.


Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, p. 180
Ions, Veronuca, Egyptian Mythology, Feltham, Middlesex, Hamlyn Publishing Group, Ltd., 1968. p. 19