The mysterious; the enigmatic; power; Ra, god of the rising sun; wisdom; royal dignity; vigilance; strength.
With the head of a man, or woman, body of a bull, feet of a lion and wings of an eagle, it represents the four elements and combination of physical and intellectual power, the natural and the spiritual power incarnate in the Pharaoh.
The androsphinx is human-headed and represents the union of intellectual and physical powers; the criosphinx has a ram’s head and depicts silence; the hieracosphinx is falcon-headed and is solar; an all-lion-bodied sphinx, without wings, signifies power.
The Theban sphinx is funerary, a protector of graves and denotes wanton destruction and is an enemy of mankind.
The Greek sphinx is female-headed; the Minoan sphinx wears the ‘lily crown’.
The human-headed sphinx is also suggested as human spirit overcoming animal instincts.
[Source: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols by J.C. Cooper]