A miniature ornament based on the 'Canopic jars' of ancient Egypt (measures approx. 15cm tall).
Canopic jars were used by the Ancient Egyptians during the mummification process to store and preserve the internal organs of their owner for the afterlife. They were commonly either carved from stone or made of pottery.
Each organ was placed in a jar of its own: the stomach, intestines, lungs and liver. The design of these jars changed over time. In the Old Kingdom the jars had plain lids, though by the First Intermediate Period jars with human heads (assumed to represent the dead) began to appear.
This ornament is in the shape of Anubis, the ancient Egyptian god of the dead.
More about Anubis
Anubis had many tasks to perform such as watching over the mummification process to ensure that all is done properly and conducting the souls through the underworld, as well as testing their knowledge of the gods and their faith.
In Egyptian mythology, Anubis would place the heart on the Scales of Justice during the Judging of the Heart, to determine the worthiness of the deceased to enter the realm of the dead. The god of the dead and underworld is probably associated with the jackal as the jackal would scavenge the Egyptian cemeteries looking for food. Jackals are usually associated with wolves and the domestic dog.
Jackals are not usually black in colour so it is believed the Egyptians portrayed Anubis as black as this was the colour of rotting flesh and the black soil of the Nile.