The Egyptian conception of the soul, which, in the form of
a man-headed bird, left the body after death and winged its
flight to the gods. It returned at intervals to the mummy for the
purpose of comforting it and reassuring it concerning immortality.
Sometimes carved on the lid of mummy cases, it might
be depicted grasping the ankh and the nif; occasionally it was
represented as flying down the tomb shaft to the deceased or
perched on the breast of the mummy. In the Book of the Dead,
a chapter promises abundance of food to the ba.
The ba, or soul, should not be confused with the ka, the
human double. In Egypt the human had both. After death, the
ba left the body. The ka remained in the tomb and ventured
forth in the likeness of the deceased to haunt family and
The Book of the Dead. Translated by E. A. Wallis Budge. New
Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1960.