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Mummification Glossary

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Image courtesy of The Egypt Archive

ba - This is a part of the soul. In Egyptian hieroglyphs, it looked like a bird with a person's head. It is how only you know yourself.

The inside of the mask, the personal experience of the soul, you as only you know yourself. Depicted as a Horus-falcon with a human head, often shown in flight over the tomb. In today's terms, this might be conveyed as the soul.

bardo - This is a word from Tibet, a land in the east. It is the name of the place between when you die and when you start your new life. You stay there for about 49 to 177 days.

A tibetan term meaning "after death plane." It refers to a realm or a state of existence that lasts from 49 to 177 days. It begins at death and continues until the next incarnation or rebirth.

bardo thodol - These are words that come from Tibet, a land in the east. It is the name for special words and prayers that people say to a dead or dying person to help the person move to a new life.

A tibetan phrase meaning "liberation by hearing on the after death plane." It refers to a set of instructions and meditations for the dead and dying that serve as a guide as they pass through the changing phenomena of the Bardo.

bitumen - A black tarry substance (like oil) that can burn. It is used for building roads.

A flammable mixture of hydrocarbons and other substances that is a component of asphalt and tar used for surfacing roads and for waterproofing. It occurs naturally or is obtained by distillation from coal or petroleum; an asphalt of Asia Minor used in ancient times as a cement and mortar.

book of the dead - This is a book of spells and instructions that was read to someone when they died. It helped guide them to their new life. It was kind of like a road map to show the way.

Also known as the "Book of Going Forth by Day," it is a collection of spells for a person who had recently died. Papyrus rolls, containing the name of the person who died, were made up of this collection of spells with the dead person's name inserted at appropriate points.