is wearing an ankh cultural appropriation

is wearing an ankh cultural appropriation

Let's break the ice right away, no, wearing an ankh cross is not cultural appropriation, at least not in the strict sense.

To go further, we will define precisely what is the African Ankh cross and what is cultural appropriation. 

What is the ankh 

The ankh or key of life is an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol used in Egyptian art and writing to represent the word "life" and, by extension, as a symbol of life itself.

The ankh is cross-shaped, but with a teardrop-shaped loop in place of a vertical top bar. The origins of the symbol are not known, although many hypotheses have been proposed. It was used in writing as a triliteral sign, representing a sequence of three consonants, Ꜥ-n-ḫ. This sequence was found in several Egyptian words, including the words meaning "mirror," "floral bouquet," and "life." In art, the symbol often appeared as a physical object representing life or substances such as air or water that are related to it. It was especially commonly held in the hands of ancient Egyptian deities, or being given by them to the pharaoh, to represent their power to sustain life and revive human souls in the afterlife.

The ankh was one of the most common decorative motifs in ancient Egypt and was also used decoratively by neighboring cultures. Coptic Christians adapted it into the crux ansata, a shape with a circular rather than oval loop, and used it as a variant of the Christian cross. The ankh came into widespread use in Western culture in the 1960s, and is often used as a symbol of African cultural identity, neo-pagan belief systems, and the Gothic subculture. (source)

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what is cultural appropriation

Cultural appropriation occurs when one culture adopts specific elements from another. These can be ideas, symbols, artifacts, images, sounds, objects, forms, or behavioral aspects[1] that, once removed from their original cultural contexts, can take on very divergent meanings.

The term was coined by writer and social activist Janet Mock in her book Redefining Realness: My Unauthorized Biography of a Slouchy Icon.

In her book, Mock describes what cultural appropriation is like: “In 2017, cultural appropriation has become such an issue that its inclusion on the White House’s list of ‘notorious incidents’ has been called ‘a step backward for our nation.’ It's time to take this term seriously and to begin working toward a more just society. In 2017, cultural appropriation is not just about white people making fun of black people—it's about destroying the very idea of what it means to be a person of color.”

African Woman clothes cultural appropriation

Why Wearing an Ankh is not Cultural Appropriation

Wearing an Ankh is not cultural appropriation for the simple reason that this ancient civilization no longer exists and has not been colonized by a modern civilization. 

When almost every man in the world wears a suit and tie "made in Western" , is it cultural appropriation?

The Egyptians living in modern Egypt today are not the same people as the people of ancient Egypt. Are they accused of cultural appropriation?

Ancient Egypt is a civilization that has marked the world with its technological, spiritual, moral and monumental advances. It commands respect and fascination and many people still appreciate this ancient culture today. These are the reasons why some people like to wear jewelry, clothes or adopt a style with ancient Egyptian symbols. They feel that they identify their concept of life with these symbols.

Although, in the past, there have been other religions that have borrowed from ancient cultures (such as Hinduism and Buddhism) but these religions don't claim ownership of the culture.

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If wearing an Ankh is not cultural appropriation, what is it?


It seems like the Ankh is just a symbol of fertility, transformation, and rebirth. It is supposed to symbolize the Egyptian god Horus, the son of the mother goddess Isis and Osiris, who was born from the goddesses Isis and Nephthys and rebirth.

The Ankh has a long history in Egyptian culture and is now celebrated as a symbol of fertility, transformation, and rebirth. It is also considered to be lucky because it brings about good fortune for the wearer. It has been used for centuries by men, women, children, and animals to bring about good fortune and fertility. Today it is still worn as a symbol of rebirth by many Egyptians.

It seems that wearing an Ankh does not mean that one's own culture or religion is being “appropriated” when worn by another; rather it means that one's own cultural beliefs are being celebrated in the person's own way.

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