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What is the meaning of the ankh - Egyptian cross?

Key Insights
  • Ankh – What does it look like?
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There are many popular, commonly-used symbols in modern culture that we display and appreciate, but, at the same time, we do not know exactly what is their meaning. Of course, some people may not care about the origin or meaning of a particular symbol but still utilize it to enhance their appearance by wearing it on their outfits. There are also people who want to know the exact, true meaning of symbols that appear on clothing or jewelry pieces. Nowadays  one of such popular symbol is  the ankh. You may not be familiar with the word itself at first, but the moment you see the symbol, it turns out that you’ll recognize it and will have certainly seen it on display. The Ankh is also known as the Egyptian Cross – let’s dig into its origins and meaning.

Ankh Cross

White Gold Ankh Cross


Ankh – What does it look like?

The Ankh cross also known as the UNC symbol, bow of life, Crux Ansata goes by many names, is utilized by many people around the world, and is displayed in various ways through art, jewery, tattoos and T-Shirt designs. There is no arguing the symbol is incredibly important in modern culture and has roots dating back thousands of years. So what does it look like, and why is it shaped in that particular way?

Well, the most important and characteristic part of the ankh symbol is a teardrop-shaped loop at the top of it. The loop is then attached to a cross, which is immediately underneath the teardrop. Imagine that the top piece of the long vertical bar that makes up a cross is replaced at the intersection of the horizontal bar with a teardrop. That’s the symbol.

The loop in the ankh is a symbol representing the sun. The horizontal bar of the cross represents the horizon and the vertical bar the path of the sun. It rises above the horizon and then slowly goes down again.

The Egyptian ankh was commonly used throughout the ancient history of Egypt. The Ankh is seen consistently in hieroglyphics, on artifacts uncovered in Egypt, and on Egyptian artwork.

Ankh Cross and necklace

Ankh Cross Micro



What does the ankh symbolize?

The ankh meaning is concentrated on symbolizing the importance of life in many various ways. This symbology and meaning is so prevelant that it is no wonder that it is often referred to as the Egyptian symbol of life. The Ankh can represent our physical life on Earth or eternal life after death either in heaven or the underworld. Moreover, it can also symbolize immortality or even reincarnation. The ancien Egyptians thought the symbol so powerful that they wore it for protection against negativity.

Browsing through the different pieces of art created by the ancient Egyptians, we notice the ankh cross was oftentimes being gifted to a Pharaoh. This particular usage seems to indicate the well wishings for a long and prosperous life. There are many hieroglyphs showing common people, but also gods and goddesses who are gifting the ruler such an ankh symbol.

But that is not the only representation of the Egyptian cross in ancient times. The symbol was also painted on tombs and death masks where it appears to represent the passage of the dead person to the afterlife. The UMC symbol combined with the graphic representation of the a worshipped god or goddess was believed to help the deceased pass safely from the Earth to heaven.

Another interesting fact about the Egyptian symbol of life is that it was commonly used in conjunction with naming people. The deceased were often called ankhu, but also pharaohs used the word as the part of their names. In this way, the person taking up the name demonstrates the importance of life both while alive on Earth or in the heavenly realm.

Micro Ankh Cross in White Gold

Micro Ankh Cross in White Gold


Modern-day use of the Egyptian ankh

We trust that if someone asks you what does the ankh symbolize, you will now be well informed. It is mainly connected with the ancient times, but today we have revitalized the symbol, which is quite common on the streets around the world. Projects incorporating the ankh can be seen in modern fashion, tattoo designs and also jewelry. The symbol is appreciated by men and women who either know the meaning behind it or simply enjoy its aesthetics. We can see people passing by wearing t-shirts with the ankh cross or necklaces with incorporating its design. They symbol looks good, is fashionable, and, to the informed, symbolizes the importance of life

Among all these various ways of using the Egyptian cross, jewelry is by far the most popular one among men and women. That shouldn’t be much of a surprise as there are many wonderful pieces of jewelry to choose from that have been shaped into this incredible symbol. The ankh gold chain is definitely one of the favorites among young, trendy people. They come in various sizes as either very simple or embellished versions with diamonds and rare jewels. The ankh neckle for men is a very popular choice as it exudes a strong masculine look to a piece jewelry that most everyone appreciates.

 The ankh meaning isn’t very complicated, as it concentrates mainly on the importance of life, both terrene and eternal. However, at the same time the symbol is very powerful and broad, which seems to be the main reason why it is so popular in the modern Western culture. In our contemporary times, which can be quite crazy, materialistic and unpredictable, we often search for such symbols, to  remind ourselves what is really important. That said, in the end  the depiction of the Egyptian ankh is also very visually appealing as it looks great combined with various elements of our modern outfits. That is why so many people are wearing jewelry with this popular ankh symbol - for example gold necklaces with pendants shaped as the well-known cross from ancient Egypt.