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Anubis Tattoo meaning: Tattoos Steeped in Egyptian Lore

Anubis Tattoo meaning: Tattoos Steeped in Egyptian Lore

Thinking about getting an Egyptian tattoo? Hold on! Learn the true meaning behind these powerful hieroglyphics to ensure your ink reflects respect for a timeless culture.


Egypt's got it all — pointy pyramids reaching for the sky, pharaohs dripping in gold, and tall gods with cool animal heads. No wonder people have been obsessed with Egyptian culture for ages! But its appeal goes beyond the glittering gold and sand. Egyptian civilization is layered with symbols and legends woven into every aspect of their life: from religious ceremonies to awesome tomb iconographic.

Guess what else they loved? Tattoos! Indeed, Egyptians have been using ink to decorate their skin for millennia. Their vision was somewhat different from ours, though. Like in all ancient cultures, tattoos were a way of ascending to the divine. Even today, people are getting inked with Egyptian-styled designs, keeping the tradition alive and kicking.

Back in Time

The earliest evidence of tattooing in Egypt dates to the Predynastic period (around 4000 BCE). The discovery of tattooed mummies suggests that the practice was likely widespread among certain social groups.

Although we do not have clear manuscripts on ancient Egyptian tattoo techniques and tools, archaeologists believe Egyptians employed a forerunner of the modern “stick-and-poke” technique.

Ancient tattoos played a big role in rituals. Popular motifs included fierce animal-headed gods: falcons for protection, and jackals to guide souls through the afterlife. Symbols for good luck and even hieroglyphs, whispering secrets, were also present. Each design, etched with a pecking tool could represent social status, akin to wearing a fancy necklace today, or devotion to a specific god, similar to a fan club t-shirt.

The best part? The true magic lies in the connection between these designs and Egyptian mythology. People got tattoos to feel close to the powerful beings they worshiped and declare, “This is who I am!” Basically, these tattoos were a window into the soul of Ancient Egypt, a way to see what people truly believed in.

The Egyptian Pantheon of Gods on the Skin

Ancient civilizations feel like distant whispers, their cultures lost to the sands of time. These forgotten folks left behind amazing things, like giant statues and mysterious writings we can't quite understand yet. But this does not mean we are entirely in the dark. For instance, we've learned a lot about Egyptian gods.

Just look at Anubis, the jackal-headed god. He was one of Egypt's most famous mythological figures. A tattoo with a canine guide to the afterlife can stand for concepts of defense and change — a reminder that passing away is simply a natural ending of life's grand adventure.

If Anubis rules underground, Horus rages in the sky. This falcon-headed god represented the realms of heaven and kingship. Such a tattoo symbolizes protection, strength, and power.

Osiris is another deity of the afterlife, who was responsible for resurrection, and fertility. His powers can be confused with Anubis, just as people confuse the roles of the Greek gods Zeus and Thanatos. Osiris ruled the underworld, judged the dead, and was shown as a mummified figure with a pharaoh's beard. His godly design can show rebirth, renewal, and the cyclical nature of life and death.

Isis, the goddess of magic, motherhood, and protection, represents nurturing energy, feminine strength, and the power of creation. An Isis tattoo could celebrate your inner strength, caregiver role, or motherhood's transformative power.

Another feminine godly figure would be Bastet, the lioness-headed. She watched over homes and families, but her fierce lioness head hints at a much wilder side. Musicians also honor Bastet because she was the patron saint of music and creativity.

Lastly, we got Thoth, the god of knowledge. Represented by an ibis or baboon head, Thoth is associated with wisdom, writing, and the unending pursuit of knowledge.

Of course, we did not name all the gods, only 6 out of more than 2000. Certain gods could represent different aspects of a larger concept, with roles intertwined. Try to dive deeper into Egyptian culture and you will eventually find something unique

Sacred Ancient Symbols

You're not limited to Egyptian gods alone! There's a vast array of signs from Egypt to explore. Let’s take a look at some iconic motifs that might fit for the perfect design

  • Eye of Horus

This watchful falcon eye represents protection from evil forces, healing, and royal power. The Eye is associated with the left eye of the god Horus, which he gave up to bring his father Osiris back to life

  • Scarab beetle

It is a sacred symbol in Ancient Egypt, representing transformation, immortality, and resurrection. It is associated with the sun god Khepri, who was believed to roll the sun across the sky. Egyptians revered it for good luck and rebirth, often using scarab amulets as talismans.

  • The ankh

Instantly recognizable, the ankh symbolizes life, protection, faith, energy, transformation, light, and fertility. Its cross-like shape topped with a loop represents the divine spark that flows through all living things.

  • Lotus flower

For many people, the lotus is probably associated more with Eastern culture. However, the lotus flower is a symbol of creation in ancient Egyptian culture as well. They associated it with the sun, as it closes at night and reappears at dawn.

  • The Djed pillar

Resembling a column with stripes near the top, it's often linked to the god Osiris and his powerful backbone. The Djed pillar was used in rituals related to death and rebirth, reminding us of the constant cycle of change and renewal.

The richness of symbolism in ancient Egyptian art extends far beyond these few examples. These symbols are frequently combined, creating unique and layered designs overflowing with meaning.

Cultural Appropriation and Respectful Tattooing

Today, many people are drawn to Egyptian tattoos due to their captivating art and mythology, but hold on a second — isn’t that rude to Egyptians? In Ancient Egypt, tattoos held deep meaning, so grabbing a random design can downplay their significance and disrespect the rich culture they come from.

Here's how to get inked with respect:

  1. Think about what the Egyptian symbol means to you. “It's cool” is a good reason in itself, but it's much better to know the lore behind something you’ll wear for the rest of your life, don't you think?.
  2. Steer clear of clichéd designs or symbols tied to negative aspects of the culture. Instead, seek out designs that reflect the positive aspects of Egypt. You can also learn about the family tree of the gods, it is quite interesting.
  3. Consider collaborating with a tattoo artist who understands Egyptian iconography. They can guide you towards a meaningful design and ensure it's executed respectfully. Check out resources like Ink-Match tattoo gallery to find an artist specializing in respectful and authentic Egyptian designs.

A modern take on an Egyptian symbol is fine, but make sure the core meaning stays intact. The last thing you want is a design that mocks or trivializes the rich history behind it. By approaching tattoos with respect and understanding, you can create a unique piece of body art that celebrates a fascinating culture. Remember, it's about honoring the past, not just getting cool art.


Fueled by ancient beliefs and imbued with timeless meanings, Egyptian tattoos transcend time. From the watchful gaze of Horus to Bastet’s ballads, each design is like a window into an ancient civilization reinterpreted for a modern world.

With each etched symbol of Ancient Egypt adorning our skin, let us remember the profound wisdom and artistry that birthed this remarkable civilization. These enduring tattoos become bridges connecting us to gods and myths of the Nile Valley.


author-Liam Mills

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