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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Saddle-Billed Stork (Ba-Bird)

  • Author(s): Janák, Jíří
  • et al.

The ba, whose notion spanned from the divine to the manifestation of the divine, and from the supernatural (or rather super-human) manifestation of the dead to the notion of the soul (psyche) or reputation, counts among the most important Egyptian religious concepts. The term and its hieroglyphic renderings are attested for all periods of ancient Egyptian history. In the process of time the word ba was written with various signs, including that of a stork (G 29), a ram (E 10), and a human-headed falcon (G 53). Its representation with sign G 29—the saddle-billed stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis)—is both the earliest and the most attested depiction connected to the religious concept of the ba. Thus it serves as a crucial witness to the original meaning and main aspect of the ba.

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