Anpu (Anubis) is one of the most prominent and mystical gods of ancient Kemet. He is the Kemetic God of mummification and the afterlife as well as the patron god of lost souls and the helpless. He was known since the earliest periods in the history of the civilization that was based near the Nile River. This god was first mentioned during the First Dynasty period, as his image is seen in many royal tombs.. his name has the same root as a word which means ‘a royal child.’ Moreover, it is also related to the word “inp”, meaning “to decay”. Anubis was also known as “Imy-ut” (“He Who is in the Place of Embalming”) and “nub-tA-djser” (“lord of the sacred land”).
He is the son of Auser and Nepthys who is the wife of Set. Its was his birth, a reminder of his wife’s betrayal that fueled Set to murder Ausar who is his own brother. Set dismembered his brother and scattered his body parts around the world. But a determined Auset recovered all the pieces. Anpu assisted by Thoth performed the ritual that allowed Ausar to return from the Underworld to impregnate Isis who would bear him another Son, Heru. Anpu is thus credited with creating the first mummy.
He is depicted as a black canine, a jackal-dog hybrid with pointed ears, or as a muscular man with the head of a jackal. Black symbolized the fertile soil of the Nile River Valley which represented regeneration and life. The powerful black canine, then, was the protector of the dead who made sure they received their due rights in burial and stood by them in the afterlife to assist their resurrection.
He was known as “First of the Westerners” which meant he was king of the dead (as “westerners” was the Kemeitc term for departed souls in the afterlife which lay westward, in the direction of sunset). In this role, he was associated with eternal justice.
He is often depected standing with Osiris, Thoth, or other gods at the Weighing of the Heart of the Soul in the Hall of Truth in the afterlife. A popular image of Anubis is the standing or kneeling man with the jackal’s head holding the golden scales on which the heart of the soul was weighed against the white feather of truth. His daughter is Qebhet who brings cool water to the souls of the dead in the Hall of Truth and comforts the newly deceased.
Priests often wore a mask of Anpu during mummification ceremonies. By worshipping Anpu, the Kemites hoped to invoke him to protect their deceased from jackals, and later, the natural decay that unprotected bodies endure.
To this day Anpu is still one of the most popular and recognizable of the ancient Gods of the Kemites.