The Ba bird Hieroglyph for Ba



Appearance: The ba was always portrayed as a human-headed bird, usually a human-headed falcon. The ba bird was often shown hovering over the deceased's mummy or leaving or entering the tomb at will.

Meaning: The word ba is usually translated as "soul" or "spirit". However, ba is probably better translated as "spiritual manifestation."

The ba is one of the specific components of the human being as understood in Egyptian thought. In the New Kingdom, the ba was a spiritual aspect of the human being which survived - or came into being - at death. It was endowed with the person's individuality and personality. The ba occasionally revisited the tomb of the deceased, for the dead body was its rightful home.

The ba hovering over its mummy

Animals were sometimes thought to be the bau (plural of ba) of deities. At Heliopolis, the bennu bird was called the "ba of Re." At Memphis the Apis bull was worshipped as the ba of Ptah or Osiris. At times, Osiris himself was called the "ba of Re".

The ba could also represent anonymous gods or powers. As such, they are occasionally represented in various mythological contexts. They are shown greeting the sun or traveling with it in its barque. In some illustrations of the Book of the Dead, ba birds are shown towing the barque of the sun during its nightly journey through the underworld. These ba birds may represent deities, whether or not they are shown with the curved beards of gods.

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