Appearance: In Egypt, two native species of lotus grew, the white lotus (Nymphaea lotus) and the blue lotus (Nymphaea cerulea). A third type, the pink lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) was introduced to the country from Persia during the Late period. All three species were depicted in Egyptian art (the pink lotus showed up in Hellenistic artworks), however the sacred blue lotus was the flower most commonly used and the one depicted in the hieroglyph.
Meaning: The lotus closes at night and sinks underwater. In the morning it re-emerges and blooms again. Thus the flower became a natural symbol of the sun and creation. In Hermopolis, it was believed that it was a giant lotus blossom that first emerged from the primordial waters of Nun and from which the sun-god came forth (portrayed in the image at left).
As a symbol of re-birth, the lotus was closely related to the imagery of the funerary and Osirian cult. The Four Sons of Horus were frequently shown standing on a lotus in front of Osiris. The Book of the Dead contains spells for "transforming oneself into a lotus" and thus fulfilling the promise of resurrection.
The lotus was commonly used in art as a symbol of Upper Egypt. It was often shown with its long stems intertwined with papyrus reeds (a symbol of Lower Egypt) as a representation of the unification of the two lands.