Weighing a heart
A watchful eye looks over the Egyptian cabinet at Vänersborg Museum. It is the Egyptian God Anubis who looks over the room in the form of a black jackal.
Anubis was one of the major deities in ancient Egypt. He was considered to be the guardian of the tombs.
One onerous task that Anubis performed was to weigh the deceased person's heart, as the dead were to be judged on their earthly deeds at the gate to the underworld.
The heart of the dead person was placed on a balance and weighed against a feather – the feather of truth. If the heart was lighter than the feather, the deceased person could continue with Anubis to the realm of the dead.
If the heart was heavier, however, the deceased person would be devoured by a behemoth that was part crocodile, part lion and part hippopotamus.
The god of embalming
Anubis was also the god of embalming and guarded the place where bodies were mummified. The black colour is central to Anubis' character since black was considered to be the colour of life by the ancient Egyptians.
This wooden sculpture of Anubis was probably on the top of a box for the four canopic jars in which the dead person's viscera were stored after the body had been embalmed.
The sculpture at Vänersborg museum is said to come from Thebes.