The Handbags of the Gods: Ancient Purse Artifacts or Symbolic Representations?


The Handbags of the Gods: Ancient Purse Artifacts or Symbolic Representations?




Throughout human history, various civilizations have left behind numerous artifacts that have puzzled archeologists and historians. One enigmatic set of objects frequently encountered are the handbags seen in sculptures, carvings, and paintings across different cultures. These peculiar objects have sparked a debate within the academic community, raising questions about their purpose and significance. Are these handbags simply practical accessories, or do they hold a deeper symbolic meaning?

Ancient Purse Artifacts


Many experts argue that the presence of handbags in ancient art can be attributed to their utilitarian purpose. Just as modern people carry bags to transport their belongings and necessities, ancient civilizations may have created these objects for the same practical reasons. These handbags could have held valuable items, food, or personal belongings, providing a means of portability in a time before pockets were commonly used.

One example of these ancient purse artifacts can be found in ancient Egyptian art, where pharaohs and gods are depicted carrying a small bag, known as the “khepresh.” The khepresh bag is thought to have contained magical or precious objects related to the divine power of Egyptian deities. In this interpretation, these handbags are seen as literal representations of a functional item.

Symbolic Representations


However, an alternative viewpoint suggests that these handbags possess a more symbolic significance. Some researchers argue that the presence of handbags in ancient art represents a connection between the human realm and the divine world. These objects could symbolize the holder’s power or authority, and their ability to access hidden knowledge or higher realms. The handbag might represent a sacred vessel, holding divine secrets or a portal to the spiritual realm.

This theory gains support when examining Hindu art, where gods and goddesses are depicted holding handbags called “kumbhas.” These kumbhas are associated with fertility, abundance, and the accumulation of wealth. The handbag, in this context, is seen as a representation of prosperity and divine blessings.



While the debate between ancient purse artifacts and symbolic representations continues among experts, no definitive answer has been reached. It is likely that handbags depicted in ancient art hold both practical and symbolic meaning. These objects could have served practical purposes while simultaneously representing a deeper symbolism related to power, authority, and connection to the divine.

Whether an ancient handbag was functional or symbolic, it remains a fascinating artifact that provides a glimpse into the beliefs, practices, and material culture of ancient civilizations. These enigmatic objects continue to pique the curiosity of researchers and offer glimpses into the intricacies of the human past.

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