Ankh Onech. The symbol of life in ancient Egypt


‘At the centre of the Egyptian belief in life after death is the concept of life itself. The entire history of Egypt, its architecture, its art, its writings, priests, inhabitants, scribes and its religion reveal a fervent love of life. The belief in life after death is represented by the processes of mummification and the elaborate funeral rites of-ten used. For the Ancient Egyptians the idea of life was represented by the symbol ‘Ankh’, which took the form of a cross with the upper ver-tical section replaced by an almond-shaped loop. The function and importance of this symbol is evident in its frequent appearances, in temples, tombs, on pottery and on other ob-jects in daily use. It is present in all the expressions of thought, meditation, prayer, rites and religion; it can be seen in the hands of priests and priestesses, and is found on tombstones, pillars and inscriptions. The Coptic Christians continued the tradition, transforming “Ankh” in “Onech” The exhibition deals with the origins of the symbol of life, its meanings and its evolution, and illustrates these themes with a collec-tion of large photographs and authentic exhibits, of great histori-cal and documentary value, dating from 3000 to 200 BC, kindly loaned by the Museo Barracco in Rome. Of particular interest are an acephalous statuette of the god Osiris, the deity of the under-world and of regeneration, and two Canopic urns in which the vi-tal organs of the deceased were placed and preserved, under the protection of the god Horus. Also worthy of note is a sundial from the period of Ptolemy II (illustrated). In the pictorial section of the exhibition a number of photographs and reproductions depict the evolution of the symbol ‘Ankh’, from the most ancient graffiti to the ‘crux ansata’, the ‘Onech’ symbol of the early Coptic Christians.’


20 Agosto 1988 - 27 Agosto 1988


Exhibitions Meeting Exhibitions