What Is An Ankh Meaning & 10 Powerful Reasons To Wear It
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What Is An Ankh Meaning & 10 Powerful Reasons To Wear It

Ankh Jewelry, Ankh Meaning. Who doesn’t love powerful symbolism? We love adorning our bodies with little shapes or designs, and if they also say profound and awesome things, what could be greater?

Large royal ankh necklace

Image by Aladdinslampjewelry via Etsy

There’s no doubt that the ancient Egyptian Ankh symbol looks wonderful. And it’s as deep as can be when it comes to symbolism. In fact, one major meaning of the symbol is as big as it gets: life itself.  Let’s learn some secrets of jewelry made with this awesome sign!

What Is The Ankh Symbol?

Ankh pendant with diamonds

Image via Macys

Alongside the Hamsa hand, the Egyptian Ankh symbol is one of the oldest, best-known, and most powerful symbols in the world. The lower portion, roughly the lower 80%, is a cross.  The horizontal bars of the cross are often bowed, swelling outwardly at their tips. 

The upper part of the Egyptian Ankh is a loop, which distinguishes it from a Christian cross. This symbol, whether used for jewelry or otherwise, has serious significance to many people for widely-varying reasons, and is a permanent fixture in the history of Egypt.

Meaning Of The Ankh Symbol

Mens diamond ankh cross greek key charm pendant

Image via Macys

There’s no doubt that the ankh symbol has more individual meanings than most signs that exist.  However, probably the most agreed-upon, possibly “official” meaning of the Ankh symbol is “life.” It is also translated as “breath of life” and can be referred to as the “key of life.”

The Egyptians, like many other civilizations, had a very developed idea of an afterlife. So the Ankh symbol refers not just to life on Earth as we know it, but the afterlife as well.

It is also the case that it can represent the sun and earth meeting, and the genitalia of either men or women. As you can see, these meanings have some connection to the idea of life.

Sapphire ankh cross bolo bracelet

Image via Macys

As we’ll explore in just a minute, because of its association with the afterlife, the Ankh symbol is often found in tombs, buried with bodies, or in hospitals.

It was worn by many hippies in the 1960’s and 70’s to show their disdain for materialism.

Ankh Symbol— Ankh In Jewelry, Ancient Egypt, Gods And Royalty

Ankh stud earrings in sterling silver with 14k gold plate

Image via Zales

One of the components of the symbolism of the Ankh symbol is its association with many Egyptian gods and goddesses.  It’s another way in which the symbol is both important and versatile, with complex and varied meanings.  One prominent goddess often depicted with the Ankh symbol is Isis, goddess of fertility, magic, and healing. 

Not only was she the wife of Osiris, ruler of the underworld, but Isis was also the first daughter of Geb and Nut, god of the earth and goddess of the sky.  As for the underworld, Isis is often depicted holding an ankh to the lips of a soul to revive it and give it eternal life. Thus, the meaning of eternal life given to the ankh Egyptian symbol.

The goddess Neith is also connected to the Egyptian ankh symbol.  She is the goddess of war and weaving.  In festivals for Neith, Egyptians burned oil lamps to reflect the stars and make a mirror image of earth and sky.  This connects to the ankh (which Neith is depicted holding) because the ankh is often thought of as a mirror. 

Remember, it binds life on earth with the afterlife, and the Egyptians thought of the afterlife as a mirror image of earthly life.  In fact, when ancient Egyptians made actual mirrors they made them in the shape of Ankhs. It all fits together!

Further, the ancient queen Nefertiti is depicted receiving an Ankh symbol from Isis.  After that, many other kings received it as a symbol for long life to them.

What Does The Ankh Shape Represent?

Solid gold ankh necklace

Image by Aceelegance via Etsy

What an awesome question! There are some different ideas about this.  Ovals and circles are ripe for being interpreted in any number of ways.  The Ankh shape is sometimes thought of as the rising sun. 

Yet it has also been described as female genitals, with the staff at the bottom of the Ankh being male genitalia joining it.  Naturally, over the years, because of the cross component of the Ankh, it has been compared to a Christian cross or considered to be simply another version of it.

Ankh Jewelry Today

Beyonce wearing an ankh pendant

In the 1990’s, the Ankh jewelry came into vogue around the world.  It’s still in style, with celebrities like Katy Perry, Beyonce, and Rihana sporting it.  The unisex symbol is very versatile in necklaces, earrings, bracelets, charms, and even rings.  Life and vitality will never go out of style and will never cease to be profound symbols.

Ankh Jewelry, Christianity, Eternal Life -Should I Wear The Ankh?

Diamond concave square with ankh stud earrings

Image via Zales

There is some controversy and some misgivings surrounding the Christian cross and the Ankh. You may have heard that the Christian cross actually sprang from the Ankh symbol, and this is probably a simplified version of the development of the Christian cross.

Christianity made its way to Egypt in the first century AD.  Some believe that Christians used a combination of the Ankh and a Staurogram symbol. This was a depiction of Christ on the cross to make an early version of the Christian cross.  Today’s version has straighter horizontal bars and has become distinct from the Egyptian Ankh.

Ankh earrings

Image by Papadelijewellery via Etsy

There are a lot of rumors or notions about wearing upside-down crosses or crosses that are somehow different from a standard Christian cross. It can be seen as sacrilegious or blasphemous in some way.  However, those are mostly just urban legends and nothing that would get an actual individual in trouble. 

You may not want to wear an Ankh necklace as a direct substitute for a Christian cross. But it can be worn for spirituality and as a symbol of vitality.  Most major religions have some notion of the afterlife and of crossing from this life to that one. So there should be no reason not to wear jewelry that is a symbol of that.  Do what you feel, boo!

Where To Buy Ankh Jewelry

Ankh cross drop earrings

Image via Macys

While going out and shopping is always awesome, let’s face it, you need the selection that you’ll find only online.  You can look at our selection here, but you may try Etsy or Amazon as well.

Ankh Jewelry FAQs

Q. Is It Disrespectful To Wear An Ankh?

Rihana wearing ankh pendant

A. Egypt is an African country, and when Caucasians or folks of various cultures take inspiration from African culture, it can seem as though they’re taking something that isn’t theirs. Why not use their own culture?

Well, if you have a conviction against cultural appropriation, you probably wouldn’t want to wear an Ankh necklace or any other piece of jewelry.  In that case, you won’t, and that makes sense for you.  But you could look at it as a matter of looking at the various elements of culture in the world and picking those you like.  So if you look at it like it’s not disrespectful that it may not come across that way. However, you may get a raised eyebrow or two.

Q. Is The Ankh Symbol Against Christianity

Egyptian ankh in catholic church

Image via Aletia

A. The Ankh symbol existed before Christianity.  It isn’t necessarily a symbol that promotes any particular religion, even if it can sometimes be adopted by non-Christian traditions. Its resemblance to what would eventually become the Christian cross doesn’t make it a rival or an imitation of some kind and it doesn’t mean it is counter to the ideology of Christianity.

Q. Is The Ankh Good Luck?

A. The ankh is definitely used as a good luck charm.  Since it is all about life, one form of “good luck” it brings is longevity.  You’re pretty unlucky if you’re dead.

Q. What Is The Power Of The Ankh?

A. The ancient Egyptians used the Ankh for healing and for similar magical powers.  It was ritualistic. Today, well, other stuff is used for healing and the Ankh is more associated with strength and prosperity. Now, balance is important in life to the point that it can be considered a power.  The Ankh is often thought of as a tool to bring the wearer balance between two opposing forces (as, for example, between earthly life and the afterlife).

Q. Who Wears An Ankh?

Rihanna wearing ankh necklace

Image via Film Magic

A. In ancient times, real-life Egyptian kings and queens were often depicted being given an ankh by a deity that existed in Egyptian mythology.  But while ankh necklaces and other jewelry were used in rituals, there wasn’t necessarily a particular person or station of person who was meant to wear an ankh.

Today, as is often the case, any symbol can be worn by anyone, and people all over the world decide to wear the ankh symbol.  At the close of the 1960’s, American hippies began to regularly sport the ankh.  Later, people in the grunge movement associated with the music of Pearl Jam, Nirvana and others, were known to wear jewelry with the ankh symbol. 

It never went out of style after the 90’s, and with modern celebrities like Beyonce, Iggy Azalea, and Katy Perry wearing jewelry with an ankh symbol, it is as prominent and popular as ever.

Q. What Does The Egyptian Symbol Ankh Stand For?

Egyptian ankh

A. The most common definition of what the Ankh stands for is life, including long life and/or immortality. It bridges this world with the afterlife, and can also bring prosperity and strength.

Q. The African Ankh Represents What?

Africa and ankh pendant

A. It’s a symbol with a loop at the top, with the loop sometimes being seen as a window into the afterlife or alternatively, the rising sun.  As such it has an association with life, since the sun is the life force. It also is associated with royalty, since there are many artistic depictions of Egyptian kings receiving the Ankh from gods.

Tags: ancient Egyptian symbol, Egyptian word, ankh sign, long and prosperous life, ankh cross, popular symbol, symbol of life, Coptic Christians, Egyptian culture, sun god, Egyptian cross, physical life

January 09, 2022 by Hiuyan Lam