Inventory of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in the Years 1903 - 1904. In: List of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum, During the Year 1904, Arranged According to the Dates of Acquisition with Appendix and Indices. London: Printed for His Majesty's Stationery Office, by Wyman and Sons, Limited, 1908, p. 185
This figure of a couchant jackal, the symbol of Anubis, is from Egypt from the XIth or XIIth dynasty. It was found in a tomb at Beni-Hasan during the excavations by Mr. John Garstang in 1902-04.
The Egyptian god Anubis is the patron of mummification and the dead on their path through the underworld. He is represented as a jackal-headed god but unlike a real jackal, Anubis' head is black, representing his position as a god of the dead. He is rarely shown fully-human, but he is depicted so in the Temple of Abydos of Rameses II. There is a beautiful statue of him as a full jackal in the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Anubis is an incredibly ancient god, and was the original god of the dead before Osiris "took over" the position. After that point, Anubis was changed to be one of the many sons of Osiris and the psychopomp (conductor of souls) of the underworld. His totem of the jackal is probably due to the fact that jackals would hunt at the edges of the desert, near the necropolis and cemeteries throughout Egypt.
Prayers to Anubis are found carved on the most ancient tombs in Egypt, and his duties apparently are many. He watches over the mummification process to ensure that all is done properly. He conducts the souls through the underworld, testing their knowledge of the gods and their faith. He places their heart on the Scales of Justice during the Judging of the Heart, and he feeds the souls of wicked people to Ammit. He also has a daughter, Kabechet, who helps him in the mummification.
Anubis was worshipped widely throughout all of Egypt, and the cult center was at Cynopolis.