Statue of Anubis

Statues of Anubis like this were often left in tombs, to look after the dead


Anubis was the god of mummification. He watched over mummies as they were embalmed - preserved to last forever. Priests often wore Anubis masks during the rituals associated with mummification.

In the famous scene from the Book of the Dead shown here, Anubis leads the dead soul to judgment by the gods. Anubis also does the weighing of the scales. If the man's heart (on the left) is heavy with sin, it will sink lower than the feather of truth (on the right). Then he will be eaten by the creature with the crocodile's head. Otherwise he can go to heaven.

Why a Jackal?

Anubis was shown either as a human with a jackal's head, or as a jackal. The reason was that jackals are scavengers - they feed on corpses. The Egyptians wanted to ward off jackals from eating the bodies of their loved ones, so they made the god in the jackal's image.

Jackals are not black, however - they are brown. Some people think Anubis was black because that is the colour of a rotting corpse. Yuk!

On the left is a picture of a statue of Anubis from the tomb of Tutankhamun. It was carved from wood and painted black, and gold leaf was added to the collar and ears and eyes.

Click here for more information on Tutankhamun.


The name of Anubis in the first place was Inpu. The Greeks changed it to Anubis. You can see the hieroglyphs for Inpu below.

This is a painting of Anubis from the tomb of Nefertari, wife of Ramses II. He is seated on a shrine and carries a flail, like the one Osiris carries.

He is usually black to represent the black of decaying corpses and the black soil of the Nile valley.

A coffin in the Bolton Museum


Anubis statue in the Manchester Museum


A jackal