Educator How-to: Make an Anubis mask!

Anubis is the Greek name for the “jackal-headed” god associated with death and the rituals of mummification in Ancient Egypt. Anubis’ color is black, symbolizing rebirth, which parallels the belief that the deceased is, in fact, reborn in the afterlife.

anubis 1

Ancient Egyptian cartonnage Anubis mask.

Over time, Anubis played several roles in funerary rituals, from protector of the grave to head embalmer, and advocated for the deceased in the Weighing of the Heart ceremony. A mask, like the one pictured below, was worn by the priest performing the Opening of the Mouth ceremony and other funeral rituals.

Anubis 2

Opening of the Mouth Ceremony.

Interestingly, recent genetic research suggests the Egyptian jackal, long thought to be the inspiration for the god Anubis, may not be a jackal at all, but rather an African wolf and a member of the gray wolf family. However, at present, the animal is considered of unresolved taxonomical identity and is presently classified as a golden jackal, despite genetic evidence that suggests otherwise.

jackal

The Egyptian jackal, or perhaps the African wolf.

With the directions below, you can make your own Anubis mask! First, print out these Anubis Templates for the mask and ears and gather the following supplies:

  • Cardstock
  • Cardboard (you can recycle a cereal box for this purpose)
  • Crayons
  • Glue
  • Hole punch
  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Elastic string

Cut out the face and ears from the template. Trace the ears onto a piece of cardstock and cut them out carefully. Color the face of Anubis any way you like, using your crayons. When finished, glue the face to the cardboard and cut it out using a pair of sharp scissors. Then use glue or a stapler to attach the ears to the top of the mask. Use the hole punch to make a hole on each side of the mask at its widest point. Finally, tie the ends of a length of elastic string to each of these holes so the mask fits snugly over your face. Now you can legitimately perform the Opening of the Mouth Ceremony yourself!

masks

 

Use these designs above for inspiration or invent your own. You learn more about Anubis and other Egyptian gods at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in the Hall of Ancient Egypt.

Go seek: Take a photo scavenger hunt through our new Hall of Ancient Egypt

We’re getting active on the blog today. Rather than tell you all about a new exhibit or reveal the quirks of some of our curatorial staff, this entry requires some effort on your part.

In order to fully enjoy today’s post, you’ll have to get your tuchus to 5555 Hermann Dr., where you might have heard a little something about a new Hall of Ancient Egypt:

Egpyt Photo Scavenger Hunt

Our education department teamed up to take stock of the new hall — which is teeming with artifacts from the earliest investigations to those examined with 21st-century technology — and created an engaging Egyptian scavenger hunt.

Egpyt Photo Scavenger Hunt

Navigate the hall on your smartphone or click here to print these pages for an extra activity during your next visit!

Mock Mummification

* Walk Like An Egyptian *
Creative Commons License photo credit: pareeerica

We will be having an educator overnight soon at the HMNS – these events allow teachers to come in after hours and learn new activities to do in their classrooms with students. Teachers are also able to wander around our exhibit halls, have a catered dinner, and watch a planetarium show. Today I thought I would share with you one of the classroom projects for our Mummies, Tombs and Catacombs Educator overnight happening in April. (Teachers – you can sign up now at www.hmns.org

Materials:
Bendable action figure
Paper clips
Small heart sticker
Salt
Red food coloring
Scented oil
Glue
Udjat eye stickers – find an Udjat Eye design and print it on label paper
Sequins
Labels
Paper plates
Black Sharpies
Paper towels

Procedure:
1. Get a parent to help you (this only applies for kids.)

2. Talk about the different steps that took place during mummification. You may want to check out the book Mummies Made in Egypt by Aliki. You can find it at your local library.

3. Now it’s your turn to make a mummy! Grab an action figure and place it on a paper plate.

4. Get a small amount of water and a Q-tip. This represents water from the Nile River. The dead were first washed with water from the Nile. Dip a Q-tip in the water and use it to “wash” your mummy. Then, dry it with a paper towel. Save the towel. You will need it later.

5. Now it’s time to remove the organs from the body. Organs contain a lot of water, so they must be removed in order to preserve the body. Take your paper clip and bend it into a hook shape. This is the shape of the instrument used to remove the brain from the head. The embalmers inserted it through the nose. The brain was considered a filler for the head (kind of like stuffing) and not important, so it was discarded. Pretend to remove the brain using the hook you made.

Egyptian Embalming Urns
Creative Commons License photo credit: mamamusings

6. Next you need to remove the viscera from the body. A cut was made into the left side of the mummy using an obsidian blade (Use a black Sharpie marker to draw a line on the left-hand side of the abdomen); it was from here that the internal organs were removed. Four of the organs were taken out and embalmed separately. The liver, lungs, stomach, and intestines were embalmed and placed in separate jars called canopic jars to be entombed with the mummy. The heart was left in place inside the body. They believed the heart controlled thoughts and emotions and served as the place where memories were stored. The mummy would need to keep its heart. Place your heart sticker on the mummy’s chest.

7. The body was then covered in something like salt called natron. It took 40 days for the body to dry out. The natron was changed often. Sprinkle your mummy with salt to simulate the natron.

8. When the body was dried out it was washed again using palm wine. Wash off the figure using water dyed red (palm wine). Pat you’re the body dry with a paper towel.

9. The body was then stuffed with aromatic spices and resins. This made the body smell at least a little more pleasant. Use a drop of scented oil on your body to make it smell nice.

10. The incision in the side will need to be protected. Place your Udjat Eye sticker over the incision on the left hand side of the abdomen.

11. Next comes the resin. Resin was made from tree sap and was painted on the body to make it waterproof. Paint the body from head to toe with a light coat of Elmer’s glue. You may use your finger to do this.

12. Next are the amulets. Amulets are carved figures that are thought to have magical powers. The most important amulet for the mummy was a large scarab that was placed over the heart to provide protection. Place a sequin over your mummy’s heart to act as the heart scarab.

13. Next, the bandages. Mummies were wrapped with linen bandages. Linen is made from flax, which is similar to cotton. Take a length of cotton gauze and wrap your mummy from head to toe.

14. Now you have your own mummy! Maybe you can make a sarcophagus to hold your mummy!