Humans have marked their bodies with tattoos for thousands of years. These permanent designs—sometimes plain, sometimes elaborate, always personal—have served as amulets, status symbols, declarations of love, signs of religious beliefs, adornments and even forms of punishment. Joann Fletcher, research fellow in the department of archaeology at the University of York in Britain, describes the history of tattoos and their cultural significance to people around the world, from the famous " Iceman," a 5,200-year-old frozen mummy, to today’s Maori.
What is the earliest evidence of tattoos?
In terms of tattoos on actual bodies, the earliest known examples were for a long time Egyptian and were present on several female mummies dated to c. 2000 B.C. But following the more recent discovery of the Iceman from the area of the Italian-Austrian border in 1991 and his tattoo patterns, this date has been pushed back a further thousand years when he was carbon-dated at around 5,200 years old.
Can you describe the tattoos on the Iceman and their significance?
Following discussions with my colleague Professor Don Brothwell of the University of York, one of the specialists who examined him, the distribution of the tattooed dots and small crosses on his lower spine and right knee and ankle joints correspond to areas of strain-induced degeneration, with the suggestion that they may have been applied to alleviate joint pain and were therefore essentially therapeutic. This would also explain their somewhat 'random' distribution in areas of the body which would not have been that easy to display had they been applied as a form of status marker.
What is the evidence that ancient Egyptians had tattoos?
There's certainly evidence that women had tattoos on their bodies and limbs from figurines c. 4000-3500 B.C. to occasional female figures represented in tomb scenes c. 1200 B.C. and in figurine form c. 1300 B.C., all with tattoos on their thighs. Also small bronze implements identified as tattooing tools were discovered at the town site of Gurob in northern Egypt and dated to c. 1450 B.C. And then, of course, there are the mummies with tattoos, from the three women already mentioned and dated to c. 2000 B.C. to several later examples of female mummies with these forms of permanent marks found in Greco-Roman burials at Akhmim.
What function did these tattoos serve? Who got them and why?
Because this seemed to be an exclusively female practice in ancient Egypt, mummies found with tattoos were usually dismissed by the (male) excavators who seemed to assume the women were of "dubious status," described in some cases as "dancing girls." The female mummies had nevertheless been buried at Deir el-Bahari (opposite modern Luxor) in an area associated with royal and elite burials, and we know that at least one of the women described as "probably a royal concubine" was actually a high-status priestess named Amunet, as revealed by her funerary inscriptions.
And although it has long been assumed that such tattoos were the mark of prostitutes or were meant to protect the women against sexually transmitted diseases, I personally believe that the tattooing of ancient Egyptian women had a therapeutic role and functioned as a permanent form of amulet during the very difficult time of pregnancy and birth. This is supported by the pattern of distribution, largely around the abdomen, on top of the thighs and the breasts, and would also explain the specific types of designs, in particular the net-like distribution of dots applied over the abdomen. During pregnancy, this specific pattern would expand in a protective fashion in the same way bead nets were placed over wrapped mummies to protect them and "keep everything in." The placing of small figures of the household deity Bes at the tops of their thighs would again suggest the use of tattoos as a means of safeguarding the actual birth, since Bes was the protector of women in labor, and his position at the tops of the thighs a suitable location. This would ultimately explain tattoos as a purely female custom.
Who made the tattoos?
Although we have no explicit written evidence in the case of ancient Egypt, it may well be that the older women of a community would create the tattoos for the younger women, as happened in 19th-century Egypt and happens in some parts of the world today.
What instruments did they use?
It is possible that an implement best described as a sharp point set in a wooden handle, dated to c. 3000 B.C. and discovered by archaeologist W.M.F. Petrie at the site of Abydos may have been used to create tattoos. Petrie also found the aforementioned set of small bronze instruments c. 1450 B.C.—resembling wide, flattened needles—at the ancient town site of Gurob. If tied together in a bunch, they would provide repeated patterns of multiple dots.
These instruments are also remarkably similar to much later tattooing implements used in 19th-century Egypt. The English writer William Lane (1801-1876) observed, "the operation is performed with several needles (generally seven) tied together: with these the skin is pricked in a desired pattern: some smoke black (of wood or oil), mixed with milk from the breast of a woman, is then rubbed in.... It is generally performed at the age of about 5 or 6 years, and by gipsy-women.”
What did these tattoos look like?
Most examples on mummies are largely dotted patterns of lines and diamond patterns, while figurines sometimes feature more naturalistic images. The tattoos occasionally found in tomb scenes and on small female figurines which form part of cosmetic items also have small figures of the dwarf god Bes on the thigh area.
What were they made of? How many colors were used?
Usually a dark or black pigment such as soot was introduced into the pricked skin. It seems that brighter colors were largely used in other ancient cultures, such as the Inuit who are believed to have used a yellow color along with the more usual darker pigments.
What has surprised you the most about ancient Egyptian tattooing?
That it appears to have been restricted to women during the purely dynastic period, i.e. pre-332 B.C. Also the way in which some of the designs can be seen to be very well placed, once it is accepted they were used as a means of safeguarding women during pregnancy and birth.
Can you describe the tattoos used in other ancient cultures and how they differ?
Among the numerous ancient cultures who appear to have used tattooing as a permanent form of body adornment, the Nubians to the south of Egypt are known to have used tattoos. The mummified remains of women of the indigenous C-group culture found in cemeteries near Kubban c. 2000-15000 B.C. were found to have blue tattoos, which in at least one case featured the same arrangement of dots across the abdomen noted on the aforementioned female mummies from Deir el-Bahari. The ancient Egyptians also represented the male leaders of the Libyan neighbors c. 1300-1100 B.C. with clear, rather geometrical tattoo marks on their arms and legs and portrayed them in Egyptian tomb, temple and palace scenes.
The Scythian Pazyryk of the Altai Mountain region were another ancient culture which employed tattoos. In 1948, the 2,400 year old body of a Scythian male was discovered preserved in ice in Siberia, his limbs and torso covered in ornate tattoos of mythical animals. Then, in 1993, a woman with tattoos, again of mythical creatures on her shoulders, wrists and thumb and of similar date, was found in a tomb in Altai. The practice is also confirmed by the Greek writer Herodotus c. 450 B.C., who stated that amongst the Scythians and Thracians "tattoos were a mark of nobility, and not to have them was testimony of low birth.”
Accounts of the ancient Britons likewise suggest they too were tattooed as a mark of high status, and with "divers shapes of beasts" tattooed on their bodies, the Romans named one northern tribe "Picti," literally "the painted people."
Yet amongst the Greeks and Romans, the use of tattoos or "stigmata" as they were then called, seems to have been largely used as a means to mark someone as "belonging" either to a religious sect or to an owner in the case of slaves or even as a punitive measure to mark them as criminals. It is therefore quite intriguing that during Ptolemaic times when a dynasty of Macedonian Greek monarchs ruled Egypt, the pharaoh himself, Ptolemy IV (221-205 B.C.), was said to have been tattooed with ivy leaves to symbolize his devotion to Dionysus, Greek god of wine and the patron deity of the royal house at that time. The fashion was also adopted by Roman soldiers and spread across the Roman Empire until the emergence of Christianity, when tattoos were felt to "disfigure that made in God's image" and so were banned by the Emperor Constantine (A.D. 306-373).
We have also examined tattoos on mummified remains of some of the ancient pre-Columbian cultures of Peru and Chile, which often replicate the same highly ornate images of stylized animals and a wide variety of symbols found in their textile and pottery designs. One stunning female figurine of the Naszca culture has what appears to be a huge tattoo right around her lower torso, stretching across her abdomen and extending down to her genitalia and, presumably, once again alluding to the regions associated with birth. Then on the mummified remains which have survived, the tattoos were noted on torsos, limbs, hands, the fingers and thumbs, and sometimes facial tattooing was practiced.
With extensive facial and body tattooing used among Native Americans, such as the Cree, the mummified bodies of a group of six Greenland Inuit women c. A.D. 1475 also revealed evidence for facial tattooing. Infrared examination revealed that five of the women had been tattooed in a line extending over the eyebrows, along the cheeks and in some cases with a series of lines on the chin. Another tattooed female mummy, dated 1,000 years earlier, was also found on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea, her tattoos of dots, lines and hearts confined to the arms and hands.
Evidence for tattooing is also found amongst some of the ancient mummies found in China's Taklamakan Desert c. 1200 B.C., although during the later Han Dynasty (202 B.C.-A.D. 220), it seems that only criminals were tattooed.
Japanese men began adorning their bodies with elaborate tattoos in the late A.D. 3rd century.
The elaborate tattoos of the Polynesian cultures are thought to have developed over millennia, featuring highly elaborate geometric designs, which in many cases can cover the whole body. Following James Cook's British expedition to Tahiti in 1769, the islanders' term "tatatau" or "tattau," meaning to hit or strike, gave the west our modern term "tattoo." The marks then became fashionable among Europeans, particularly so in the case of men such as sailors and coal-miners, with both professions which carried serious risks and presumably explaining the almost amulet-like use of anchors or miner's lamp tattoos on the men's forearms.
What about modern tattoos outside of the western world?
Modern Japanese tattoos are real works of art, with many modern practioners, while the highly skilled tattooists of Samoa continue to create their art as it was carried out in ancient times, prior to the invention of modern tattooing equipment. Various cultures throughout Africa also employ tattoos, including the fine dots on the faces of Berber women in Algeria, the elaborate facial tattoos of Wodabe men in Niger and the small crosses on the inner forearms which mark Egypt's Christian Copts.
What do Maori facial designs represent?
In the Maori culture of New Zealand, the head was considered the most important part of the body, with the face embellished by incredibly elaborate tattoos or ‘moko,’ which were regarded as marks of high status. Each tattoo design was unique to that individual and since it conveyed specific information about their status, rank, ancestry and abilities, it has accurately been described as a form of id card or passport, a kind of aesthetic bar code for the face. After sharp bone chisels were used to cut the designs into the skin, a soot-based pigment would be tapped into the open wounds, which then healed over to seal in the design. With the tattoos of warriors given at various stages in their lives as a kind of rite of passage, the decorations were regarded as enhancing their features and making them more attractive to the opposite sex.
Although Maori women were also tattooed on their faces, the markings tended to be concentrated around the nose and lips. Although Christian missionaries tried to stop the procedure, the women maintained that tattoos around their mouths and chins prevented the skin becoming wrinkled and kept them young; the practice was apparently continued as recently as the 1970s.
Why do you think so many cultures have marked the human body and did their practices influence one another?
In many cases, it seems to have sprung up independently as a permanent way to place protective or therapeutic symbols upon the body, then as a means of marking people out into appropriate social, political or religious groups, or simply as a form of self-expression or fashion statement.
Yet, as in so many other areas of adornment, there was of course cross-cultural influences, such as those which existed between the Egyptians and Nubians, the Thracians and Greeks and the many cultures encountered by Roman soldiers during the expansion of the Roman Empire in the final centuries B.C. and the first centuries A.D. And, certainly, Polynesian culture is thought to have influenced Maori tattoos.
16 Symbolic Anubis Tattoos
The Meaning of Anubis in the Mythology
In Egyptian mythology Anubis is revered as the god of death and the afterlife, as well as the guardian of lost souls, children and the misfortunate.
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The name Anubis has its roots in the Greek language, originally stemming from the Egyptian “Anpu” which means “to decay”. Anubis is depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphs as a man with the head of a canine or jackal.
It is believed that this canine form was chosen to ward off the wild dogs known to dig up the graves of the dead during ancient times.
The visual representation of Anubis works in many ways to symbolize the concept of regeneration and spiritual protection.
Anubis’s head was traditionally shown as black in color which represented his association with death and the afterlife. While ancient Egyptians recognized black as the color of decay, they also connected it to the fertile soils of the Nile which represented rebirth and life. In this way, the color black worked to symbolize the concept of “life after death”.
Anubis is considered to be one of the oldest gods in Egyptian mythology and while his role has shifted depending on context and time period, he is most commonly associated with mummification, guarding the dead and the resurrection of the soul to the afterlife.
He was believed to hold within him the mysteries of life and death, and to assist in the process of weighing a soul’s heart against that of the “feather of truth”. This mystical process was believed to determine which souls had earned access to the afterlife and which would be devoured by the goddess Ammit.
Though Anubis’s most popular role was associated with the transition from this life to the next, he was also known to fiercely protect the graves of the dead from the living.
In Egyptian mythology Anubis is notorious for his victorious battle against his evil father Set (also referred to as “Seth”), the God of chaos and trickery. It was believed that in his war against Set, Anubis had branded his skin with a hot iron, a story which was later believed to explain why the leopard’s skin was adorned with spots.
Anubis was said to have then flayed Set, wearing his spotted skin as a warning to those who dared to disrupt the graves of the deceased. Priests who worked with the dead in ancient Egypt were known to wear leopard skin as a way to pay homage to Anubis’s victory over evil.
The Meaning of Anubis Tattoos
An Anubis tattoos meaning can vary widely depending on the wearer. Some choose to adorn their body with the symbol of Anubis in remembrance of a loved one’s crossing over.
Others choose the symbol to express their spiritual beliefs regarding the afterlife, or as a token of protection against evil doers and agents of chaos and disorder.
Some view their Anubis tattoos as symbols of death’s duality, giving way to the idea that a physical death is just a transition into a new form of life.
Regardless of the personal meaning behind this powerful symbol, Anubis in his many depictions works to create an amazing Egyptian inspired tattoo rich with possible interpretations and spiritual depth.
Read also:What Makes Isis and Horus Smile? Egyptian Tattoos
Depending on the design motif you choose, your Anubis tattoo can be easily altered to convey your own personal connection to the God of the Underworld! Anubis can be depicted holding the golden scale to symbolize purity of spirit, or for those seeking to wear a tattoo that wards against evil, Anubis wearing leopard skin is also an excellent choice!
Top Placements for Anubis Tattoos
Anubis Hand Tattoo
Anubis hand tattoos work wonderfully to showcase the detailed head of the God of Death and the Afterlife.
Many have chosen to include the Egyptian symbol of the “ankh” within this design, an ancient Egyptian symbol which represents the key to eternal life.
Anubis Forearm Tattoo
If you’re looking for a larger piece, an Anubis forearm tattoo is a perfect placement to bring more detail to the design.
Many have chosen to include the Egyptian “crook and flail” within this design, a symbol representing the principles of mercy and severity, or in other words, spiritual notions of guidance and transcendence through struggle.
The forearm offers a prime landscape to incorporate more unique and personalized symbols within the design and can work as an excellent start to a sleeve!
Anubis Head Tattoo
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, or you’re rocking a shaved or partially shaved hair style, an Anubis head tattoo can be a really fun placement!
This is great for simpler designs focusing on the fierce jackal head of the ancient god.
Anubis Back Tattoo
For those seeking inspiration for a big piece, Anubis back tattoos really comes to life thanks to the large size of the canvas. With ample space to illustrate your design, Anubis back pieces can be used to vividly depict a plethora of stories within Egyptian mythology.
One popular choice for Anubis back tattoos features Anubis alongside the Egyptian god of the sky, Horus. Both Anubis and Horus were known enemies of the treacherous god Set.
Tattoos featuring both of these gods side by side could be interpreted as symbols of protection against evil, and embodiments of the spirit world.
Egyptian mythology is rich with stories to choose from when designing your Anubis tattoo, and there is no better placement for detailed story telling than a large back piece!
Anubis Legs Tattoo
Although Anubis designs can work anywhere on the body, the legs are another prime option for Anubis tattoo placement! The side or back of the leg works well to bring life to your unique vision.
If you’re looking to incorporate other Egyptian gods and goddesses, the back of the legs is a perfect place to display the images side by side.
Anubis and Osiris tattoos have become popular as a way to represent the concepts of death and rebirth. In Egyptian mythology Osiris was brutally murdered by his brother Set. Afterwards, Anubis reassembled Osiris’s body and brought him to the afterlife.
It was after this process that Osiris took over Anubis’s role as god of the underworld, although they continued to work side by side.
Exploring the different roles of the gods and their relation to one another can inspire a truly unique tattoo that works perfectly on the legs.
“Eye of Anubis” Tattoos
Many of us are familiar with the “eye of Horus” tattoo design, but little known is about this symbols connection to the god Anubis.
The eye of Horus was used in ancient Egypt as a symbol of protection, good health and royal power, commonly displayed on amulets, sarcophaguses and the tombs of the dead. This symbol was believed to offer the soul safe passageway into the next life.
In this way, we can see how this symbol has become associated with Anubis, the ruler of the afterlife and god of mummification.
The personal meaning for an “eye of Anubis” tattoo can vary depending on the wearer. It can easily be used as a token of protection, a symbol of transcendence to another plane of existence, or a representation of the afterlife.
Horus and Anubis Tattoos
In Egyptian mythology, Horus is the half-brother of Anubis and the god of the sky. Horus is also associated with the sun and moon and considered to be the avenger of wrongs and defender of order.
Horus and Anubis tattoos take on a powerful symbolic meaning, as both have ties to the mysteries of what lies beyond this plane, and both are concerned with justice and protection from evil.
Many people have chosen to work various Egyptians symbols into tattoos featuring both Horus and Anubis, from images of pyramids to detailed ankhs and corresponding hieroglyphs. Both defeated the nefarious god Set in battle, which makes these symbols the perfect representation of “good vs evil”.
Whatever your personal take on these mystical beings, there is a plethora of mythology to choose from when creating your one of a kind Anubis and Horus tattoo!
More Anubis Tattoo Designs
Seeking more Anubis tattoo ideas? Whether you want a full color Anubis tattoo, or you're considering a black or tribal piece, we’ve got you covered. Check out our picks of the best Anubis tattoos below!
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Written byJennifer R Donnelly
Freelance Journalist | Tattoo & Art CollectorSours: https://www.tattoodo.com/articles/16-symbolic-anubis-tattoos-6815
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Top 57 Egyptian Tattoo Ideas [2021 Inspiration Guide]
When you think of Egypt perhaps the first thing that comes to mind for most are the pyramids or even the Great Sphinx. However, it extends far beyond the monuments, ancient Egypt is the said to be the framework for civilization.
If there’s one thing the Egyptians mastered aside from moving massive stones that still dumbfound us, it’s organization.
From religion to writing, government and more, the historical significance continues to be studied today. However, when it comes to symbolism and meanings, they are virtually quite endless.
For starters there’s the gods like Isis, who’s renowned for magical seductive and also the daughter or Ra. If you’re not familiar with Ra, it is the god of the sun and associated warm weather. Next, there is Osiris, the first Pharaoh, who’s queen is of course, Isis.
Gods and goddesses aside, many tattoos tend to feature royal headpieces and spiritual symbols.
For instance, the Egyptians believed deeply in life after death, with the ankh representing eternal life and safe passage. Even the dung beetle, called the scarab served as a unique symbol of rebirth. As an insect of impulsiveness, it makes sense when you consider it would appear when the time was deemed right.
There’s also the Ba, a decorated bird that represents relentless perseverance and personality. After flying away during the daytime to work, it seemingly always would return come nightfall. Ancient Egyptians had attributed it to the protection of a youthful appearance after death.
Yet two of the most popular designs you’ll see today often include the Eye of Horus and the Sphinx. The Eye of Horus was more than just the “all-seeing eye”, it was a symbol for protection, good health and royal power. It stems from Horus, the ancient Egyptian sky god, otherwise described as the falcon. Now, for the Sphinx, the meaning isn’t quite as clear. It’s been said to be a guardian to the buried king who rested in the nearby pyramid.
There’s also the mummy, pyramid and pharaoh, each of which you’ll discover in top 60 best Egyptian tattoos for men. From stone monuments to ancient symbols that bewilder, these tattoo designs and ideas are sure to leave you inspired.
Egyptian Tattoo Ideas
This is a nicely articulated Egyptian style chest tattoo that features the Pyramids of Giza above, while below is a picture of Ma’at. Ma’at is the Goddess of truth, justice, and the cosmic order. The feather in her headdress is an ostrich feather. The shading in this piece is quite gaudy but does a good job of linking the imagery together.
Wow. This is a wicked Egyptian tattoo that is etched with Polynesian tribal techniques. The degree of detail in the shading of this piece is astounding – there would have to have been at least five sessions to make up the time taken to ink the sleeve. In Ancient Egypt the Scarab was key part of funerary rites and symbolized the circle of life, and immortality.
Anubis, Jackal headed God responsible for dressing the dead, and former lord of the Egyptian Underworld who was replaced by Osiris. This new wave style tattoo features an epic array of ink colors to project the fantastical in both the God and his surrounds. The representative color reflection in Anubis’ burnished armor adds to the prestige of the artwork, showing off the skills of the artist.
This blackwork tattoo of the boy King Tutankhamun effectively uses degrees of shadow to replicate the features of his funeral mask. The artist works well within the limited space to mesh the new work with the subject’s previous tattoos.
A nice cartoonish style Egyptian tattoo featuring popular symbols the ankh, Egyptian Triangle, and Eye of Horus. The key to the quality of this piece is well-executed black linework supported by gray shading. The ankh was the Egyptian hieroglyph representing life, or more accurately, “the Breath of Life.” The triangle was used in surveying and is believed to be the origin of the Pythagorean triangle. The eye of Horus, which remains popular in Egypt today, symbolizes rebirth, regeneration and protection.
This the tattoo version of the guy from the History Channel that thinks every keystone event was caused by aliens. It’s an epic piece of abstract new wave style. The balance of color, shade, and line work for such a small tattoo is packed in with expert skill.
The artist deftly shades and emphasizes the key elements of teeth, beard, and snake then contrasts it with precise black and gray shading of the headdress lightened by clever use of negative space throughout to avoid making the artwork overwrought and too dark.
Nice inside forearm tattoo. This traditional Egyptian sarcophagus is well drawn by the artist, utilizing clear, crisp line work and an understated color pattern to make the coffin’s beautiful cover. Broadening the image with numerous simple hieroglyphs is a nice added touch.
This incomplete pharaoh piece is rounding into a nice Egyptian tattoo. The shading is simple, opting to use a solid gray ink in addition to regular blackwork shading techniques when filling out the image.
Ancient Egypt meets Slayer in this killer mummy tattoo. It’s a heavy tattoo, thick of line and black of shading, but there are elements of white highlight helping to keep it from becoming a blobby mess. And rendering the artwork ineffective.
Here is another King Tutt chest piece. The funky head band is known as a Uraeus. In this version the serpent is representative of Wadjet, one of the protective Goddesses of Lower Egypt.
Focus on the crook and flail in this excellent Pharaoh tattoo. Notice how by adding white ink to the slightly deeper, crisper black of the line work this makes them pop in comparison to the rest of the image. It’s a cool technique the artist has used to make a bit of visual trickery in the art. The crook and flail are emblematic of pharaonic authority first linked to the God Osiris.
This bad ass black and gray tattoo is chock full of cool references to Ancient Egypt. There’s Nefertiti, the wife of rebel King Akhenaten who was described as the most beautiful woman in the world, the gods Horus (falcon) and Set (beast), who battled against each other for 80 years. There’s also an Eye of Horus, the scarab, and the Pyramids of Giza. Not bad content for a half sleeve tattoo.
This is a nice King Tutt. Super imposing a stylized Eye of Horus in place of the pharaohs eye is a nice touch that makes it standout in comparison to other similar works, as does the flawless line/shadow work in the headdress.
Are you ready to rumble? This is either Horus versus Set on tattooed flesh, or a battle of the band’s poster. The artist has skilfully applied shading effects to make the pending battle look like the cracking of a stone tablet.
The simple highlights used by incorporating white ink into the line work prevents this Egyptian tattoo from being too dark and overdone.
This is a clever half sleeve add-on. The Eye of Horus in this piece has been depicted to look like the falcon’s eye (Horus had the head of a falcon) and is drawn with exquisite skill. There are similar columns to those on the Colonnade of Amenhotep III at Luxor Temple. All of this has been added to build and enhance the original tattoo, which is Queen Cleopatra wearing an elegantly decorated crown.
One of the few scarab tattoos to sport a version of the little beetle carrying its own dung. Part of the circle of life, and all that. The darkness of the ink in this piece is alleviated a little by using white ink in outlines. It’s nicely detailed throughout.
What a cool lower arm sleeve. This art features the Sphinx, the mythical creature protecting the Pharaohs tomb at the Great Pyramids of Giza. The tattoo is positioned in an interesting fashion horizontally along the subject’s arm, but there’s exceptional negative space and shadow work combining to strengthen the image. Just for reference, the Pyramid with the ice cream cone on top is the Pyramid of Khafre. Khafre is also believed to have built the Sphinx after his pyramid in the 4th Dynasty. In this tattoo the Sphinx has a nose, however the original lost his in around 1000AD.
This new wave Egyptian tattoo cleanly separates the abstract from realism in stunning fashion. The beautiful constellations, bright purple and fiery orange color are fantastic, but are somehow upstaged by the clarity of detail found in the brickwork of the Sphinx and three Pyramids. This is an epic tattoo!
This sleeve is beautifully balanced in the fine facial features. It’s well complemented by crisp black and gray shading. It’s an expensive piece of artwork, but by the looks of things it’s a lot cheaper than the watch the subject is wearing on his wrist.
Elements of this piece are excellent however the overall space and line work give the Pharoah a bit too much of a moon face. If the jaw line was just a little bit longer the image would make for a better overall tattoo. The serpent of the Uraeus and the braid work of the pharaoh’s beard are both well inked.
This is a bad ass mummy you’d be extremely unlikely to replicate for your office Halloween party. Despite being very dark, the linework and shading is clear, concise, and flawlessly executed. The clarity of the torn material is realistic enough that you’d scratch and sniff it to check how nasty it was. This is an expert piece of tattoo art.
This is a rare dotwork style tattoo depicting an Egyptian pharaoh, and creates shading colors much different to those found on more traditional works of gray and black. In this piece, the Uraeus features a vulture symbolizes Nekhbet, an ancient protective goddess representative of Upper Egypt.
This is likely a tattoo of Set (or Seth). Set was a major Egyptian God who symbolized chaos and battle. He can sometimes be mistaken for Anubis (and may be here!), the funerary god with the head of a jackal. Nobody has been quite able to figure out exactly the type of beast that represents Set, settling to describe it as a ‘beast’ of a composite nature.
If they used this version of the mummy in those Brendan Fraser films from the early 2000s, more teenaged kids would have developed terrible sleep disorders. There’s excellent shade technique deployed right through this Egyptian tattoo, especially in the jaundiced eyes of the mummy and by the jewelled necklace it wears.
This is a beautifully realized 3D variation on the Eye of Horus. It’s drawn with great skill, however the part that draws you in most is the deep detailed darkness of her eyeball. There’s just a small amount of gray ink and white flecked through to make it look amazing inside that sphere.
Having seen the golden facemask of Tutankhamun up close and in person (humblebrag) this is the black and white photo version. This tattoo does a truly outstanding job of making it seem that the tattoo is, in fact, burnished gold. It’s tremendously executed..
This eye looks like it has been plucked from some person’s socket, photographed, then put back in. The artist has done a remarkable job putting this into a hand tattoo, it’s sharp, clear, and has the realistic wetness of a real orb. It’s almost like it’s been stuck over the top of the bordering pyramid, which to be honest seems underwhelming when compared to the eye.
Hand tattoo egyptian
The Ancient Egyptians are a race both feared and revered at the same time. What really happens all those years ago? Who built the pyramids? Why were cats such elevated beings in society? And what do all the hieroglyphics mean? For anyone enamored with Egyptian culture, an Egyptian tattoo is a must – and we’ve found some of the best.
Egyptian tattoos are beautiful representations of power and prestige. They speak to days of old when pharaohs ruled the land and gods and goddesses were put on high pedestals. It was a different age but the markings have followed people through the generations. Egyptian tattoos are still popular among many people. This type of genre in tattoo is fascinating because it mixes the ancient day with adventure and mystery that many of us don’t know or understand. It’s become more and more popular in this day and age. As you’ll discover, there are so many different symbols and imagery associated with this genre. It’s bold and adventuresome and commands respect. The ancient Egyptians put a lot of time and equity in their gods and many of the tattoos you’ll see today are of these ancient gods.
Where do you place this kind of body work?
The most popular placement is on the shoulder, chest and back. This is due in part that a lot of the images are quite large and the vast expanse of the entire canvas is needed. You will see from time to time the smaller images and they are often discreetly and uniquely placed on shoulders, feet, wrists and necks. This is often the female version of an Egyptian tattoo. This genre is easy to place behind the ear, on the neck, feet and hands because of the hieroglyphs. It gives off mysterious allure and is ideal for a starter tattoo.
1. This is unique coloring and excellent line work. The artist really went into detail with the overall look of this piece. The eyes are haunting and the snake is foreboding.
2. These colors are so eye catching and vibrant. The beetle is extending upwards toward the sun god, Ra. This particular god held a lot of importance and significance to the ancient Egyptians.
3. Beautiful art of a past Pharaoh. The Pharaoh was the ruler of ancient Egypt and is perhaps most known for being stubborn and unwilling to let the Israelites go which led to one Pharaoh in particular’s demise.
4. These images are so vivid. They both represent gods of the past and you can see the different animal imagery on both arms. Do you see the crosses below?
5. Portraits are very difficult to do well. One misstep and the entire face is off kilter. This artist did a fantastic job capturing the alluring eyes of this female. Notice the snake that is wrapped around her head and extends under her. It’s not colored in and there is only line drawing for it which sets it apart and gives significance to its part in the piece. The other colors chosen really make the art pop and appear life like.
6. We particularly like this one because of the attention to detail. It’s alarming in an unoffensive way and it’s confusing because there is an animal head on top of a human body. What do you think it means? It’s probably meant to replicate Anubis. He was a god with the head of a jackal. It represents the underworld because he was thought to decide whether or not people were good enough for it. It also has been equated with the role of responsibility. Someone with this tattoo is probably highlighting that they have great responsibility.
7. Here’s another excellent image of this same god. He holds and heir of authority and was thought to have quite a bit of power which is why the Egyptians revered him so much.
8. The cat symbolizes fertility and motherhood. The feline was also honored because it caught mice and snakes in the villages which protected the people from harm. The extending feathers here took an inordinate amount of time and look fabulous.
9. This picture of hieroglyphics looks stone like and ancient.
10. Such vibrant colors and line work in this piece. The looks so attentive and in charge in this image.
11. Perhaps this is homage to Cleopatra. She was indicative of power, sensuality and feminism. Did you know she was the last Pharaoh of ancient Egypt?
12. This is so realistic and almost has a 3D effect to it. The moon represents magic and eternity while the Anabis also can be related to the dark underworld. The two probably go hand in hand in this piece of art. Anytime there is black shading like there is, it’s a sure sign that it was painful and took a while to complete. Kudos to this guy.
13. Beautiful design and overall layout with this piece of art. The flowers lacking color signifies something in particular though it may be lost to everyone but the artist himself.
14. This tattoo is full of symbolism. The sun means it’s protecting whatever its rays touch. The eye signifies strength and power. If you have a one dollar bill from the United States with you, take it out and take a look at it. It’s the same eye. The pyramids also signify power and authority.
15. Interesting choice in not using any color here but it looks great. It really brings out the eyes in this image and the line detail is excellent. From the hat to the high cheek bones, every detail is on point.
16. The cross and the eye of the sun god are very simply yet strikingly done in this piece.
17. “Walk like an Egyptian…” Anybody know the rest of the words to that song? This guy seems to have the walk down pretty good.
18. This piece looks a bit faded probably because it’s on his hand and exposed to the elements. Initially it was pretty intricate but it could stand to be touched up. That’s part of the deal with hand tattoos, they just have a tendency to need retouching. Definitely something to take into consideration when deciding on the placement of your next job.
19. These are really cool splashes of blue. They make the whole piece pop. The face of this pharaoh is eyeless which hints to it being a mummy perhaps.
20. Here’s another example of the artist making the piece look ancient. It’s very well done. The hat this person has on was very fashionable back in the day.
21. The bold coloring really makes this Anubis look menacing. The sun looks like it’s shooting solar rays out in daggers.
22. Very cool piece with excellent line work and attention to detail. This took extensive effort by the artists and probably took a while to complete.
23. The use of purple and yellow here really ties the whole piece together. It causes the central focus to zero in on the eye. The triangle looks to be a pyramid while the eye is inside of it yet the eye appears to be the focal point of the whole piece. It gives a domineering feel to the art. What are your thoughts?
24. Wow, the artist did an excellent job with depth here. It looks like we are staring into an actual eye. It’s still red around the edges which signifies it hasn’t been on that person’s arm for very long. It looks like it’s healing quite nicely.
25. Unique placement and the shading is very good. There’s quite a bit of imagery and meaning here. Based on what each means, can you decipher what the artist was trying to convey? It looks like power and dominance are key components here. The usage of the black ink really intensifies the overall look of the piece.
26. The green almost reminds of a leprechaun. Anybody else see that eye on the pyramid? He’s got the Egyptian cross in his hand and the staff in his other. He looks rather authoritative here. It’s a bold tattoo because it’s quite drastic and overbearing on the sleeve of his arm.
27. This detail is legit. It took a long time to do and was probably pretty painful when it hit his ribs. The artist did a great job of capturing the essence of this image. The shading and contrast is particularly well done on the wings above the snake and the eagle. It has a 3 dimensional look to it.
28. This is an Anubis in the midst of hieroglyphics. This is something you might see on the inside walls of the pyramids. It looks fairly rudimentary but it actually probably took the artist quite a while to do each line with the various art.
29. Ok for starters this guy looks pretty cool in his hat and the lighting here is awesome. The back of his piece is a little blurred because of the dark coloring used for the wing span. If you look closely, you can see quite a bit of detail went into this art.
30. This chest piece is pretty interesting because it seems to have a few different genres going on here. If you take a look at his arm, you’ll notice the Medusa looking figure which doesn’t seem to tie together the art as a whole. The line work is excellent but there doesn’t seem to be a rhythm here. What do you think? The skull face pharaoh obviously has some significance but the stars used aren’t from Egyptians times at all. The eye and the pyramid tie together so perhaps he’s going for an ominous, foreboding look.
31. The detail here in on point. Nicely done! The neck is a great location for a female with long hair because they can easily hide it if they need to although do to the size of the tattoo, it may not be as easily hidden as others.
32. This is a small, inexpensive and elegant piece. It probably wasn’t very painful and is a great starter tattoo. It was probably the shop minimum and wouldn’t take very long to complete and the healing process would be fairly quick.
33. The black here would have been painful because the artist would have had to go pretty deep. It’s a very dramatic image that has excellent detail. It would have been a lengthy time to complete because of the degree of detail in the art here. It’s a very upfront and in your face piece. The boldness of it will definitely have onlookers asking questions and wanting to know more about it.
34. We love when two pieces come together to make a whole! The colors are pretty deep and the shading really offsets the images. This is very well done. This art is telling a story that is known to the canvas and the artist.
35. The red in the eye really makes it come alive. Tender placement choice but excellent overall piece. It’s quite large so it wouldn’t be easily hidden but it does look quite nice here.
36. This is a brand spankin’ new image and it looks so good. They may or may not fill it in with color but honestly with the red behind the beetle, it looks finished. The line work is really great and the aesthetic is awesome.
37. Another excellent example of a simple piece that would be awesome as a starter. It’s simple and wouldn’t take too long to complete. It might cost the shop minimum and probably wouldn’t hurt too bad.
38. The vibrant colors really make the image eye catching and endearing. There’s quite a bit of detail on here and it all came together beautifully. This would have been a process and probably meant a lot of sitting for the canvas but in the end, it was most definitely worth it.
39. This emanates power and dominance. The colors chosen here really provoke one to wonder what he’s conveying. It’s looks fearsome and threatening. Once again, this is a really bold look for the upper arm. It commands attention and is quite dominant. It tells a story and it is very eye catching.
40. Great job at trying for a 3D type image. It has a lot of different scenes and seems to be hinting at some sort of journey. The top of his shoulder has the Sphinx and then a person on a camel below. As you follow down the arm, you’ll notice more imagery that eventually ends with a woman. It’s a tale of a journey but we’re not quite sure what he’s trying to express, but regardless, we really love the different pieces. Perhaps he’s not telling a story at all. Does anyone have any input?
41. Maybe the guy was going for fierce protector. We think he nailed it! There is great imagery all throughout this work.
42. This is a great representation of hieroglyphics. It’s clean and though it’s not symmetrical, it does have a rhythm and flow to it.
43. We really like this one because it’s so shiny. It looks like you could literally peel it off her skin. Gorgeous work. It’s so eye catching and engaging. It looks as if it’s floating off her arm.
44. The cat here looks so mischievous. They were held in such high esteem in the ancient days. The details and line work really make the cat appear life like.
45. Cleopatra and Anubis are pretty busy in these images. What do you think? They seem to be in their own worlds yet seem like they are planning something together.
46. This is beautiful. It may signify the setting sun of a particular season for this person. The scarab beetle was known to have relevance to the sun in ancient days.
What do Egyptian tattoos mean mean?
Each image means something different and each is steeped in rich history. The following are a compilation of a variety of popular images. Which one sticks out the most to you?
Anubis was the god who watched over the tombs and has the head of a jackal. He was known as a protector and watcher of the night. He was revered and honored. He is one of the most popular if not the most popular of symbols to get inked of this particular genre.
Cat was also known as Mau and they were greatly favored because they kept rodents and snakes away from villages. They were held in very high esteem and were catered to by all the people.
Hieroglyphics was the way the ancient Egyptians communicated. It was one of the first languages and is not in words but rather symbols.
Cartouche it’s part of hieroglyphics and signifies that the person writing is referring to a royal.
Lotus was a plant and it meant sun and creation because every day it would rise up and then go back underwater every night. The Egyptians were fascinated with the sun and everything that was associated with the solar rays was held in reverence.
Eye of Horus was also known as the eye of Ra who was Egypt’s most powerful god. It signified protection, wellness and overall power. You will see this image quite a bit as well.
Egyptian gods were heavily revered and honored. It was of great importance to serve and worship their gods.
Scarab Beetle held a lot of influence over ancient Egyptians for a variety of things. They signified when a young man was coming of age and also were revered in relation to the sun. It was thought they had power with the setting sun. They were also placed on mummies to help them when they faced judgment.
Pyramids are perhaps one of the most recognized images of Egypt. They are the tombs where the royals were buried and led into the after life. They are also part of the “Seven Wonders of the World.” They have stood the test of time and stand tall in Egypt to this day.
Sphinx had a head of a human and the body of a lion and was said to represent treachery. It wasn’t known to show mercy and was quite a scary mythological creature.
Cross was known as the ankh. It was the key to life and it also represented the Nile. The Nile was highly honored because without it, the Egyptians could not survive.
Phoenix is a bird that means to be reborn.
Is there a back story to hieroglyphics?
Hieroglyphics is the first communication humans ever had. It dates back to ancient days when dinosaurs walked the earth. Just kidding, we don’t know for sure, but we do know it was a super long time ago. It was the way Egyptians communicated with each other and it’s all over the walls of the pyramids. Has anyone been to Egypt to visit them? We’ve heard they’re rad.
What are common colors?
The general coloring is more earth tones in nature. Typical colors are gold, copper, reds, blues and blacks.
Do male or females normally get this tattoo?
Both male and females get Egyptian tattoos because they are both masculine and feminine. The gods and goddesses of old both hold meaning to people as well as just look like awesome images. People of both sex have been intrigued with them for decades and as you can tell from the pictures below, artists are pretty great at capturing on the canvas–your body!
There is so much meaning hidden within each of these images. The ancient Egyptians had a plethora of gods and goddesses that they worshipped. The images of these days are still carried out to this day in the tattoos of some people. Although each tattoo holds special significance to that particular person, it’s important to also know what the image represents historically. Which one would you choose?
When deciding which Egyptian tattoo is right for you, be sure to find out what your image means. If it’s something you like and think it represents who you are, then definitely get it. Even if the image doesn’t represent you, you can still get it, but just know ahead of time that people might misinterpret the meaning when they initially see it. Tattoos allow us to express ourselves on our bodies in a way that other art cannot. Have fun exploring all the different options and images available. Creating the perfect image for yourself is a unique and creative journey. Ask your friends and family for ideas as well as your artist. Or surprise everyone and reveal it once it’s finished. The possibilities are endless!
Take inventory of what you’d need to get together before going to the tattoo parlor. Double check that work is cool with new body art and make sure you have a budget set aside to fund this newest piece of work. Start dreaming and tell us all about your new art.
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