Bibini4gh Blog

The cross and the ankh: Just how are the two linked?

Egypt has never been less intriguing with such history that breathes mysteries of pharaohs and queens, Nubians and sphinx, powerful rule and, civilization with its ever precious artifacts that lie in the silence of grand museums.

Here, I find yet another fascinating concept of a key symbol in Egyptology called, the ankh. The ankh resembles the Christian cross, with a loop above the transverse bar. Theories on its origins are numerous and varied; ranging from sexual symbolism, spiritual relevance to mere sandal strap.


The ankh which means “life also known as breath of life, the key of the Nile used to represent the basic connotation of life hence the sign carried in the hands of many Egyptian deities or often carried by its loop, or bearing one in each hand, with arms crossed over their chest.

Egyptologists besides attributing it to life, also called it the “handled cross”, or crux ansata. It represents the male triad and the female unit, under a decent form. There are few symbols more commonly met with in Egyptian art. In some sculptures, where the sun’s rays are represented as terminating in hands; the offerings which these bring are many including a crux ansata, which is emblematic of the truth that a fruitful union is a gift from the deity.

Similarly, chains of ankhs were shown pouring out water from vessels over the king as a symbol of the regenerating power of water. Libation vessels which held the water used in religious ceremonies were themselves sometimes produced in the shape of the ankh hieroglyph.

How does it strike you that the ankh is depicted in a variety of regular objects shaped to assume its form eg. spoon and most importantly the sacred Tutankhamun’s tomb, a gilded mirror case is found in the shape of the ankh.

Perhaps it was not for no reason that the Egyptian word for “mirror” was also, “ankh.” With such significance and awe attached to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics ‘the ankh’ and its semblance to cross it comes across less surprising that possibly the ankh is what has evolved into the popular symbol in the life of today’s Christianity, as the cross as speculated by many.


One comment on “The cross and the ankh: Just how are the two linked?

  1. I believe the African concept of identity had been expressed in various symbolism. And this is homogenious among most Africa cultures, ethnic groups, livelihood. I really love this topic.