Egyptian Symbols: Ba

The concept of Ba consists of several interchanged ideas. Usually, it denotes the personality of the person and sometimes, it may be referred to as his soul or spirit basing solely on its literal translation. It may also encompass all the non-physical attributes of the person. It is believed to leave the body of the person at the time of his death. It is often represented as falcon or a bird with the head of a human. Others believe the Ba is the emblem of the ascension of the soul after death. Probably, the most politically correct definition of the Ba is that it is a spiritual manifestation of the person that appears at the time of his death.

The symbolic feature of the Ba as a bird, according to myths, is because it can leave the tomb especially during the day by flying. It makes itself useful, as the physical body could no longer do so. At night, it returns to the dead body to reunite and become the Akh or one of the ancestors. It is often seen hovering above a deceased mummy. It may also be seen entering the tomb especially at night as it returns to the body of the deceased as its rightful home. The Ba influenced the creation of the mummy. It is believed that because of the Ba the Egyptians created mummies so that the spirit may find its way to its correct body. Many times, statues in the likeness of the deceased are often placed in the tomb in case the Ba becomes damaged or lost its way.

Certain animals were believed to be the Bau (plural of Ba) of certain deities. In Heliopolis, the bennu bird was thought to be the Ba of Ra. In Memphis, the Apis bull was known as the either the Ba of Ptah or Osiris.

The concept of the Ba may also represent several hidden powers of the deities or certain anonymous gods and goddesses. They are sometimes shown meeting the sun or traveling together with it in its barque. In fact, in the Book of the Dead, the Ba is sometimes represented towing the barque of the sun as it travels every night in the underworld.

Some scholars also believe that the Ba could take any form it pleased and traverses the ways of the tomb and the underworld. More rarely, it is thought of to have physical needs too like food and water.

Nevertheless, the Ba, like the Ka, is an integral part of the individuality of every human being.

Here’s an image of Ba:

Ba Ba was depicted as a human-headed bird.