Egyptian Tattoo Designs & Their Meaning
Egyptian history is filled with magic and mystery, and so are Egyptian tattoos. Related writing symbols, also known as hieroglyphics, have a deep-seated significance that often links them to the Egyptian gods.
The Ancient Egyptians were a spiritual culture, and as such, many of these symbols are steeped in spiritual meaning. Egyptian tattoos can have many meanings, though, and don’t need to be religious in the slightest.
If you’re thinking about getting an Egyptian tattoo, learn more about all the options available to you. They’re mostly linked to Egyptian spiritualism, but can be just as relevant in today’s world. Check out some common designs, colors, and placements.
Egyptian Tattoo Symbolism
Every Egyptian symbol has a deep and ancient meaning attached to it.
The Egyptians had many gods, and many of their most-used symbols have some religious significance.
For example, if you’re looking for a tattoo symbolizing truth, a white ostrich feather is an emblem of the goddess Ma’at, who stands for harmony, truth, and keeping balance. White also stands for purity.
Tattoos in Ancient Egypt
You may find it interesting that there are records of tattoos in Ancient Egypt—but only on women. It’s believed that they were used for two reasons:
Many female mummies have been found with markings that look strikingly similar to those found on fertility statues. It’s now thought that tattooing these symbols onto themselves was a way of increasing their ability to bear children.
It’s also believed by scholars that women tattooed these symbols onto themselves to protect their unborn children in the womb and during childbirth.
Mothers, or expectant mothers, may get a tattoo in this ancient design to symbolize the healthy growth of their child and protect them from the outside world until birth.
Although it was usually done on the lower abdomen, for obvious fertility-related reasons, today’s expectant moms can choose any location for one of these dot-dash type images.
Popular Egyptian Tattoo Designs
Some popular modern-day Egyptian symbols include:
Eye of Horus and Eye of Ra
The eye is an almost instantly recognizable symbol linked to Egypt. The Eye of Horus is generally accepted to be the left eye, is blue, and represents healing and protection.
The right eye is usually known as the Eye of Ra, is red and symbolizes protection, too, but has an added element of wrath. One might get an eye tattoo as a symbol of being watched over by whatever gods they believe in.
The ankh could be the most well-known and recognizable Egyptian symbol. It’s shaped like a cross, with a loop at the top that looks almost like a head.
The ankh is known to be the symbol of life. When carried by the gods, it represents eternal life. The shape is also linked to the sunrise, new life, and new beginnings.
Ankh tattoos may be sported by those who love life and live it to its fullest, as a reminder that we only get one. The modern pattern is to get the ankh with some texture to symbolize its antiquity, like a stone texture or a wood texture.
The scarab is an interesting small dung-beetle symbol.
The scarabs roll dung into balls and lay eggs inside them. The Egyptians observed the eggs hatch from the dung and saw new life come from seemingly nowhere. This little beetle, therefore, became an emblem of transformation, new life, and resurrection.
Those who’ve been through the poop, metaphorically speaking, and come out stronger on the other side may like this symbol enough to get a scarab-themed tat. They’re often bold, strong tattoos in tribal styles, symbolizing strength.
The sesen is the lotus flower. These flowers are very symbolic of b, even today, and are regarded in many cultures as an emblem of purity, enlightenment, and rebirth.
The flower closes when it’s dark and reopens at first light, making it a perfect representation of rebirth, regeneration, healing, and restoration. It’s also closely linked to fertility and creation.
Lotus tattoos are favored by women, which explains why they’re usually finely shaded. Adding dotted texture details to the petals can add an extra element of elegance. You can also add other flowers around it for an extra component of beauty.
The functions of the pyramids are still largely unknown. There’s no denying their majesty and their perfect construction, but they’re still quite the mystery.
They can represent strength, power, and mystery and can make quite an eye-catching tattoo.
Pair a pyramid with a sphinx or a pharaoh’s headdress for a uniquely Egyptian feel to your tat. Adding other elements of mystery, such as UFOs or ghosts, can turn your tat into a mysterious piece.
This is a lesser-known but awesome symbol. It’s the depiction of a snake or a dragon biting its tail and can be in the form of a circle or a figure of eight.
It’s the ancient equivalent of the infinity symbol and represents just that
—perpetuity, recreation, and the infinite nature of life.
The Sphinx is another well-known icon. This creature, with the body of a lion and the head of a pharaoh, was generally seen as a guardian or protector in Egypt, especially of holy places.
You should note, though, that in ancient Greek history, the Sphinx was quite the opposite and was a danger to people.
Be aware of this when getting a Sphinx tattoo. If you’re going for scary Sphinx, add some realistic elements like claws, teeth, or even blood.
Common Egyptian Tattoo Colors
Color was important to the Egyptians. Before there was a uniform writing system, they relied on what they could see to symbolize things. Of course, there’s quite a bit of artistic license involved in coloring your tat, so if you want a tattoo of a pink and purple Osiris, go for it.
Red was the color of the sun, of fire, and of blood. It was a powerful color, representing life. It was also associated with the harsh emotion of anger, which is linked to fire.
A great example of an effective red Egyptian tattoo would be the Eye of Ra, or perhaps a red Sphinx, if you want a scary, angry lion effect.
Green was all about fertility, new life, and growth. Many depictions of the Egyptian god Osiris show him being green, to represent his resurrection.
The color green could be used on a scarab beetle to enhance the meaning of new life. A green lotus flower would also be lovely and emphasize fertility.
Yellow was the color of eternity, just like the sun and gold. It was used to represent things that were infinite and indestructible.
Yellow is commonly used for pyramids and sphinxes. It’s a sign of strength, so it works perfectly for those representations.
Dark blue, the color of the sky and the waters, was associated with creation.
If you’re a fan of the tranquility of water or the ferocity of the ocean, you could blend in your favorite Egyptian symbol with blue water in the background.
Black and White
Black symbolized death and the underworld, and white was a symbol of purity.
Common Body Placement for Egyptian Tattoos
Egyptian tattoos are often very striking, so unless there’s something deep and very personal about it, it would be a good idea to have it placed somewhere visible.
Here’s a list of great places for your Egypt-themed body art:
A large, colorful tattoo would look amazing on the back.
You can make it big enough to include plenty of detail, which will add a realistic finish. A large pyramid, Sphinx, or pharaoh would fit well on the canvas of the back.
Girls may like a large, detailed lotus flower across the upper back.
Any place on the shoulder blade or on the upper arm would work great for these tats. If you want a pharaoh or a Sphinx, this ink will look great on the ball of your shoulder.
Getting a tat on a limb can be easily covered if necessary, so consider these before ruling an arm or leg tattoo out.
Ankhs, eyes, and scarabs are often bold, sharp-lined, and eye-catching. Forearms are great for these kinds of iconic tats.
A scarab beetle or Eye of Horus or Ra would fit perfectly on a calf.