Anubis (Anpu), God of Embalmment

Greek Name: Anubis
Egyptian Name: Anpu
Associated Animals: Jackal and Pharaoh Hound
Main Cult Center: Hardai (Cynopolis)
Role: Cemeteries; embalming

Anubis is my most favorite god of the whole Egyptian Patheon. He is the earliest god depicted on tomb walls and invoked for the protections of the dead. His name meaning “to decay” signifies his early association with the dead. He is the god of the underworld, embalming process, and funeral rites as well as the patron of lost souls and the helpless. He is one of the oldest gods of Egypt. The sole Lord of the Dead and judge of the soul even before Osiris came into power over the underworld. In appearance, he is depicted as a black canine, usually a jackal, or a muscular man with the head of a jackal. Rarely, he appears as a man. His black colorization symbolizes the fertile soil of the Nile River and rebirth in the afterlife.

Before the rise of Osiris during the Middle Kingdom, Anubis was known as the First of the Westerners, or king of the dead. He watched over proceeding from start to finish, escorting each soul and determining their fate. Even after stepping down so Osiris may rule the afterlife, Anubis still presided over mummification and the Weighing of the Heart. He acts as a guide to the dead and helps them find Osiris, leading the innocent on to a heavenly existence and abandoning the guilty to Ammit, a demon with the head of a crocodile, body of a leopard, and the rear of a hippopotamus. In this role, he is usually shown tending to a corpse, presiding over mummification and funerals, or standing with Osiris, Thoth, or other gods in the Hall of Judgment.

Although Anubis is very well represented in artwork, he doesn’t play a major role in mythology. He was originally considered the son of Ra and Hesat. Then, to assimilate him into Osirian mythology, his story was rewritten to be the child of Nephthys and Osiris or Nephthys and Set. After which, Anubis was regularly seen as Osiris’s protector and right-hand man—even assisting in the search for Osiris’s body parts after his murder and mummifying Osiris’s remains. In Upper Egypt, there is a reference to Anubis having a wife named Anput (a female version of himself). His daughter, Qebhet (Kebechet), the goddess of the purification, also was depicted assisting Anubis’s work by bringing cool water to the souls of the dead in the Hall of Judgment and comforting the newly deceased. However, as the protector of the dead and inventor of mummification, it is as if the god is too busy to involve himself in the stories of other Egyptian gods.

Anubis first appears in the Descendants of Isis series at the very end of Son of Set. He’s one of the guides, sent by Isis to help Natara with her gift. I truly enjoy writing his character in both Son of Set and Name of Ra and hope to write his own story in a new adult novel.


  • Hill, J. (2010). Ancient Egypt Online.
  • Oakes, L., and Gahlin, L. (2003). Ancient Egypt: An illustrated reference to the myths, religions, pyramids and temples of the land of the pharaohs. New York, New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc.
  • Mark, J (2016). Anubis.

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13 thoughts on “Anubis (Anpu), God of Embalmment

  1. I agree, I really like him, but there are not enough stories… I wonder if there had been more that we don’t have sources for anymore. Anyway, great theme, and happy A to Z! 🙂
    The Multicolored Diary: Weird Things in Hungarian Folktales

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  2. Really, really enjoyed this post. I’ve always been fascinated with Egyptian mythology and I’ve alwasy knew very little about it. I’m glad to hav ea chance at learnign it.

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    1. I haven’t read Rick Riordan’s novels, except for the graphic novel version of Red Pyramid. I have read some other Egyptian-based young adult/new adult novels, which I really enjoyed, but none that had Anubis as a character.

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