Was, Djed and Ankh

Was, Djed and Ankh

Resume : 

  • The ankh cross symbol of eternal life in Egypt.
  • The Djed or Djed pillar represents stability.
  • The Was royal scepter in Egypt, symbolizes the divine power.


Egyptian Symbols

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The ancient Egyptians used numerous symbols and hieroglyphs to represent concepts and ideas. These symbols were not just used on monuments, they were used in everyday life as well. The meaning behind most of these symbols has been lost over time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to figure them out.

In this article, we will explore the meaning behind three common Egyptian symbols: Djed, Ankh, and Was. These are just a few examples of many different Egyptian hieroglyphs with specific meanings. Keep reading if you want to know more about the ancient Egyptian meaning behind these common symbols!

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Djed Pillar

It is also known as the djed-is-ankh (“djed with an ankhu”), or djed-ankh (“djed of the soul”). The name comes from the hieroglyphic sign of the djed (also known as djet) which is translated as “power” or “might.”

Uses of Djed Pillar in Ancient Egypt

Djed Pillar (also known as Djed or Djed-Capitel) is a cross-shaped stone monolith that was used to mark the center of ancient Egyptian temples. It is a common ancient Egyptian funerary monument. It is a stone column or post, which rises to a point at the top much like an obelisk does. It was a symbol of solidity,strength and stability and often used in tombs to support the roof.

As such, it was used in many writings and monuments to represent a strong and lasting thing. One use of the Djed symbol was in mausoleums. Large structures were built as tombs for wealthy people as an indication of their wealth and status. The Djed symbol was commonly placed above the entrances to these tombs. These were buildings that were meant to last, so the Djed symbol was used to represent the enduring strength of the structure. 

Origins of Djed

Originally, the Djed pillar was probably the shaft of a shaken tree or a bundle of sheaves and it played a role in agricultural rites; some even think that it would be an ancient cult destined to cattle and that it would represent the spine of an animal.

The "Djed", in the classical period, is represented as a kind of pillar with four capitals in which some texts want to recognize the spine of the god Osiris, preserved in the famous sanctuary of Busiris. It then becomes a symbol of stability.

The djed pillar becomes an important element in the ceremony called "erection of the djed", which was part of the celebrations of the "Heb Sed", the jubilee of the pharaoh, which took place from the thirtieth year of his reign. The raising of the djed is explained as a representation of the triumph of Osiris over Set.

It was also used as a model for many talismans and amulets that were supposed to protect the living against the struggles of life.

Other supposed origins 

  • It is thought to have originated from Hathor, the Egyptian goddess of fertility who is often depicted with a cow’s head. In addition, the name “Djed Pillar” also refers to the three key parts of Ancient Egyptian architecture: the “capital”, the “pillars” and the “vaulting”. Examples of ancient Egyptian Djed Pylons can be found at Ipet-isut Temple in Abydos and at Memphis necropolis.
  • The Egyptians also believed that the Djed Pillar was created by the god Osiris to mark his eternal resting place. The pillar would symbolize his eternal presence in heaven and serve as a reminder of his power over death. The pillar was also believed to guide souls safely through the underworld and into the afterlife.
  • In ancient Egyptian mythology, Djed was said to have been “the first god created by Atum, and one of his four sons.”
  • He was also considered one of the pillars supporting Ra˚¥set, the sun god.

Ankh Cross

The Ankh is a symbol of life and eternal hope. It is one of the oldest hieroglyphics in human history. The shape and image of this ancient symbol represents the combination of male and female principles, making it a powerful and sacred tool for attracting positive energy and bringing abundance into your life.

There are many different interpretations of the Ankh, depending on where it was used, when it was used, and by whom. In Egypt, the Ankh generally symbolizes eternal life and eternal love.  


The Ankh symbol is a very common one in ancient Egypt. It was used to represent life and the flow of time. The Ankh was used in a few different ways.

Therefore, it was often depicted in front of paintings or on stelae, signifying that the person depicted was going to live forever.

Another common icon of the Ankh was in drawings and artwork that depicted a woman holding an Ankh up to a man’s chest. This icon meant that the man was supposed to marry the woman, as the Ankh meant “life.”


There are many different forms of the Ankh cross.

  • One of the most common is the "Ankh Cross with a handle". This version features a cross with a handle on each end, which allows you to wear it as a necklace or carry it in your hand. The Ankh cross with a handle is closely related to the ancient Egyptian symbol known as an ankh.
  • The ankh is often depicted as a key that has two handles, and it represents life and balance. 
  • However, you can also find an Ankh with a cross-like shape that stands for eternal life and eternal death (the duality of good vs evil).


Ankh Earrings

The Ankh cross without the handle is also used as a decorative jewelry piece. It can be worn on pendants or other jewelry items, and it is typically made from sterling silver or 14k gold-plated sterling silver. Many people believe that wearing the Ankh cross with a handle will help them to stay balanced in their lives. 


Egyptian Was-sceptre symbol, also known as Was-sceptre, is an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic writing sign that is used in the language of Ancient Egypt. Was-sceptre is a logogram and a phonetic alphabet.


It was used to represent the sound "u" when it occurs at the beginning of a word and to represent the word "was", which means "to be." The Was-sceptre symbol is also called a waw, wāt, or wawy. This hieroglyphic inscriptions have been found on many valuable artifacts such as jewelry and amulets.


The was-sceptre usually occurs in pairs: one sceptre with the head of Osiris, and the other sceptre with the head of Isis. The short version is most often shown as a staff (a stick), whereas the long version is usually depicted as a double-headed scepter. The was-sceptre symbol can also be used to represent any object that has two opposite ends: for example, an hourglass or scales. 


The was-sceptre motif originated in ancient Egypt during the First Dynasty. The earliest versions are small wooden sticks or staves carved with human heads positioned at either end, which may have been used as fishing rods and measuring devices. Figurines of this type of sceptre emerged during the Middle Kingdom (2040–1650 BCE) and continued to be used throughout Pharaonic Egypt’s history until Roman times.


The Egyptian was-sceptre is an ancient Egyptian symbol depicting a sceptre with a head at the top. It is often depicted as a symbol of authority, power or kingship, or as an iconography to represent justice.

As a sign of royalty, it was given to Pharaohs or members of the royal family from birth until death. The sceptre was also used to convey authority because it represented rays of sun being reflected from the king's crown. In ancient Egypt, the sceptre stood for justice, rule and authority. The sceptre was most commonly made out of ebony or ivory with gold or silver embellishments. The design varied depending on time period and location but always had three main parts; a shaft, a headpiece and an orb at the tip.

The Was-sceptre was also associated with the god Thoth, as well as being an image of Osiris himself. 


The ancient Egyptians used many different symbols to represent concepts and ideas. The majority of these symbols have been lost to time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to figure them out! The Djed symbol was used to represent stability and solidity. The Ankh was used to represent eternal life. The Ankh was also used to represent love and fertility. The was-sceptre was used to represent stability and power.

Next time you come across an Egyptian symbol, try to think about what the symbol represents and what it would have looked like on ancient monuments. You just might be able to piece together the meaning behind an Egyptian symbol!

What do you think about this? Are there any symbols that you think we can use today? If not, why not? Let us know in the comments below!

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