Our fascination with ancient Egypt will never end.
It seems everyone has a passing knowledge of this culture, their practices, and especially their aesthetic.
Though it is often thought about as an old culture that died out over time, there are still people who worship ancient Egyptian gods.
So if you’re looking to get a tattoo of an Egyptian figure, it’s best to do your research first.
Read on for everything you need to know about the most popular ancient Egyptian tattoos!
Why Are We Still so Interested in Ancient Egypt?
William Shakespeare presented the dramatic tale of Anthony and Cleopatra in
Many of the iconic looks of the s were inspired by the excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Like anything both aesthetically pleasing and timeless; ancient Egypt has inspired its share of tattoos.
Historians are still uncovering the tattooing practices of the Egyptians themselves.
At first, they thought tattoos were only worn by lower-class females.
Now, there is evidence to suggest that many Egyptians had skin markings.
As a culture interested in opulence and pageantry, it is no surprise that tattoos would be popular in Egypt.
A lot of time has gone into studying ancient Egyptians and their habits.
But there’s still more to discover.
Perhaps that is why we’re still so intrigued by this long-ago culture.
Today’s Egypt may look different, but the shadows of yesterday’s icons remain.
Are you considering an Egyptian tattoo?
Let’s arm you with some information before you head to the shop.
Here, we will explore some of the most popular ancient Egyptian tattoo designs.
We will start with the most iconic Egyptian figure in history:
According to most historians, Cleopatra was not the great beauty people think her to be.
She was beguiling and persuasive, and that is not a reputation she earned with her looks alone.
Cleopatra was clever and had a beautiful voice.
She knew exactly how to dazzle people when she wanted something.
For these reasons and more, she is recorded as a great beauty.
It doesnt have much to do with her physical features.
Cleopatra was not unpleasant to look at.
She just didnt have the symmetrical, modelesque features we imagine for her.
You may want a Cleopatra tattoo to remind you that some of the most memorable people in history were not classic beauties.
In today’s female-forward society, many people turn to Cleopatra as an example.
A Cleopatra tattoo may be a powerful image for a woman in power.
A Cleopatra tattoo can symbolize women in power and excellent leadership skills.
Cleopatra would often dress up as the goddess Isis- not just for the fashion.
When asked to meet with the Roman officer Mark Anthony, who later became her lover, she arrived in style.
Knowing that Anthony fancied himself a Dionysus on earth, she made herself up to look like Aphrodite.
She sailed toward him on a golden barge, sitting beneath a beautiful canopy.
Her servants, dressed as cupid, fanned her to enhance her regality.
This lavish display, mixed with the smell of Cleopatra’s chosen incense, certainly made an impression.
A Cleopatra tattoo can be a wonderful talisman for someone whos not afraid to live an over-the-top life.
Looking for an ancient Egyptian tattoo, but Cleopatra’s not your thing?
Let’s turn our attention to another icon of the ancient world.
Nefertiti was a queen of Ancient Egypt and is an incredibly popular figure in tattooing.
Tattoos of Nefertiti symbolize power, royalty, and beauty.
The people that wear the tattoo believe that it will bring them luck as they endeavor to conquer their challenges.
Many people believe that they are not worthy to carry the beauty of Nefertiti around with them in this world, but her tattoos instruct us to think of these obstacles as an opportunity to grow our self-confidence.
King Tut Tattoos
This regal image is a popular tattoo choice across gender identities.
King Tut’s golden sarcophagus has the kind of beautiful detailing a tattoo artist dreams of.
Many people with King Tut tattoos fancy themselves born leaders.
This is a great design for someone who has felt destined for greatness from a young age.
For those who still work with Egyptian gods, a King Tut tattoo is a powerful reminder of their polytheistic faith.
You may get a King Tut death mask tattoo if you work in a dangerous field where you face death every day.
With this symbolism in mind, the death mask is a deeply spiritual symbol of protection.
Egyptian gods are fascinating and aesthetically pleasing, making them a natural choice for tattoo enthusiasts.
Osiris is one of the most well-known Egyptian deities.
His associations are with death, rebirth, natural cycles, and fertility.
Some are confused by Osiris because of the duality in his nature.
He is King of the Underworld in ancient Egyptian mythology.
An Osiris tattoo is not a decision to take lightly.
He’s the god of gods and will be a very powerful presence in your life.
People generally get Osiris tattoos for one of two reasons:
Do you identify with the idea of coming back to life?
Maybe you’ve recently had a difficult experience where you had to redefine your values.
An Osiris tattoo may be a good choice!
The ancient Egyptian spiritual structure is based largely on celestial structures.
The moon and the sun are important figures in this belief system.
The moon travels through the sky in two 14 day cycles, which is why Osiris was torn into 14 pieces.
He then dies for 3 days, the exact amount of time the moon goes dark before re-emerging/being resurrected.
If you have a special connection with the moon, this may be the ancient Egyptian tattoo for you.
Goddess Isis Tattoos
Isis is more than Osiris’s sister and Horus’s mother.
She is a divine enchantress.
There’s a reason Cleopatra was so drawn to this winged goddess.
Her image is still popular in many pagan belief systems today.
She also has fans in the celebrity world: Rihanna has an Isis tattoo on her chest in memory of her late grandmother.
Isis is a symbol of healing, magic, and wisdom beyond measure.
An Isis tattoo is often used as a symbol of maternal love and fertility.
One of the more popular Egyptian tattoos is the pharaoh tattoo.
Pharaohs were powerful rulers who brought great prosperity to their people during their reign, so it is no wonder that many people would want this symbol tattooed onto their skin.
Many hope to receive positive energy from the tattoo by drawing on the power of the pharaohs who came before them and benefiting from their royal protection.
Thanks to her associations with sun energy, cows & cow’s milk- Hathor is ultimately a maternal figure.
You may get a Hathor tattoo if you want to honor your Egyptian heritage and/or the women in your life, such as a long-term partner or mother.
She is a symbol of fertility, femininity, and motherly nurturing.
Hathor is often depicted with large wings, though these are more commonly attributed to Isis.
You may also want a Hathor tattoo as a woman who gets things done while taking care of the people who matter most.
A Hathor tattoo is something you dont see every day, so it can be a nice unique tattoo piece for Egyptian people, art scholars, and history buffs alike.
Because she is ultimately the goddess of love, beauty, and divine motherhood- you will be able to find a version of Hathor in most traditions.
Thoth, like other Egyptian gods and goddesses, is most often depicted as having an animal’s head with a human’s body.
At times a Thoth tattoo is depicted as a baboon, and even then he will be holding a crescent moon.
Thoth being born so unconventionally and having an association with the moon gives him a somewhat gender-fluid nature.
He can be a wonderful guide to someone who feels betwixt or anyone who wants to find a balance between their masculine and feminine side.
Thanks to this god’s creative influence, there is a number of styles a Thoth tattoo may come in.
Most traditionally would be either an ancient Egyptian art style or in other cases portraiture.
The most common choice is to portray Thoth as a bird-headed man, others may choose an ibis or a baboon.
In ancient mythologies, he also works as a record keeper for the gods and is credited with bestowing the gift of the written word on humanity.
If you are looking to get a Thoth tattoo, there are so many ways you can approach it.
Egyptian Tattoo Symbols
Some Egyptian symbols look great on their own or can accompany other Egyptian tattoo images, including:
Ankh tattoos are used to signify eternal life and rebirth.
They are viewed as a means of preserving life through eternal peace, everlasting love, and an undying spirit.
People who get ankh tattoos are often attempting to honor something about themselves or others that they want to live on forever.
Eye of Horus Tattoos
Eye of Horus tattoos have been used for centuries as symbols of protection against the wearers enemies.
The eye is also considered to be a central source of magical power, as well as wisdom and prosperity.
In Ancient Egypt, it was believed that an individuals life is protected by special spirits called ka or sah.
When one was born, they were given a ka, and if their “ka” ever left them during their lifetime, this would lead to untimely death.
Eye of Horus tattoos are believed to help prevent this from happening.
Djed tattoos symbolize balance and stability.
They are a representation of the djed pillar found in Ancient Egyptian architecture, which was believed to represent fertility and stability.
These tattoos are commonly used as reminders for people to make peace with the challenges they face in life.
In addition to their importance as an ancient symbol of strength, they also invoke protection from supernatural forces that might cause enemies to infiltrate the wearers body or mind.
Crook & Flail Tattoos
Crook and flail tattoos are an expression of power, strength, and steadfastness.
Pharaohs often used these symbols to demonstrate their strength and authority when ruling over the common people.
The tattoo represents a persons inner strength, ability to remain strong in the face of adversity, and ability to recover from its consequences.
In Ancient Egypt, scarab beetles were used as symbols for the suns journey across the sky.
As a result, scarab tattoos symbolize lifes journey, rebirth, and resilience.
People often get them when they are leaving a difficult chapter in their lives and entering a newer, brighter chapter.
One of the main popular symbols in Ancient Egypt was the cartouche.
It was believed that this symbol would protect the wearer from evil in this life and the afterlife.
People who get these symbols tattooed on their bodies often believe that it will protect them from the attacks of their enemies, lighten their burdens in life, and bring good luck to their endeavors.
Uraeus is the name of the rearing cobra which adorned the crowns of pharaohs and gods.
It was adopted by royalty to symbolize the divine protection they had been granted.
Uraeus tattoos symbolize ren, meaning renewal or protection.
They are seen as a powerful force against evil and darkness.
The pyramids are such an amazing feat, people are still theorizing how the Egyptians built them.
A pyramid tattoo can be a symbol of great human achievements.
In the mystical sense, pyramids are triangular, symbolizing the element of fire.
They amplify and raise energy.
Be sure to balance yourself out with some water, air, or earth energy!
Giza’s great pyramid and sphinx is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
The Sphinx has the head of a Pharaoh with the body of a lion.
The lion is associated with Sekhmet, daughter of the sun god Ra.
The potent combination of a solar deity, the power of a lion, and the wisdom of a Pharaoh, make this a stunning symbol.
Like pyramid tattoos, it can symbolize great human achievements.
This Egyptian symbol as a tattoo can also symbolize great strength and power- wield it wisely!
Egyptian Tattoo Styles
Egyptian tattoos come in many designs and styles.
Egyptian tattoo styles can be portrayed as black and grey, colored, sketched, realistic, traditional, and neotraditional.
Below, well discuss some of the tattoo designs that work best with Egyptian tattoos.
Neo-traditional Egyptian Tattoos
Neotraditional Egyptian tattoos are a blend of the traditional and contemporary.
They combine the ancient symbolism found in Egyptian tattoo designs with recent artistic trends like bright colors and stylized, illustrative art.
Sketchy Egyptian Tattoos
Sketchy Egyptian tattoos are done in a style that uses thin black line drawings to capture the desired design.
Sketchy tattoos often look like drawings in a sketchbook (hence the name), but in the case of Egyptian tattoos, they also look like engravings on stone.
This provides a fantastic layer of realism to the Egyptian art style which is most commonly found carved on stone walls and tablets.
Watercolor Egyptian Tattoos
Watercolor tattoos are a growing trend in the tattoo world.
They are very popular because of their bright colors and whimsical, artistic qualities.
Watercolor tattoos work best when they are colorful, but not too detailed.
That makes them a great match for less detailed Egyptian tattoo designs like the cartouche or ankh, which allow the hazy colors of the watercolor to shine through.
Egyptian Tattoo Ideas
Egypt’s ancient imagery is so beautiful, it’s no wonder it has inspired so much art.
If you approach these symbols respectfully, they can make beautiful tattoos.
Stuck on ideas? Check out our gallery for some Egyptian inspiration!
Egyptian Sleeve Tattoos
The Egyptian tattoo sleeve is a popular design of tattooing that uses an entire arm as a canvas to explore tattoos themed around Ancient Egypt and Egyptian styles.
Sleeve tattoos often use the traditional ankh and eye of Horus designs, but more creative artists will design unique sleeve tattoos taking inspiration from more obscure aspects of Ancient Egyptian lore and culture.
Large-scale Egyptian Tattoos
Large-scale Egyptian tattoo designs are explorations of the same styles and designs that weve discussed in this article but on a much larger scale.
They include cartouches, scarabs, ankhs, and Eye of Horus tattoos to create large-scale masterpieces on backs, necks, shoulders, and other large regions of the body.
Egyptian Skull Tattoos
The shape of the Egyptian skull in the tattoos is often interpreted in many different ways.
Some see skull tattoos as symbols of death, while others see them as symbols of everlasting life.
Black & Grey Egyptian Tattoos
Black and grey tattoo styles work very well with many Egyptian tattoos due to their sculptural and architectural nature.
The shading of black and grey tattoos allows artists to create Egyptian tattoos with a sense of depth and realism thats hard to replicate with other styles.
The popularity of Egyptian god and goddess tattoos may seem strange, but ancient Egyptian art and spirituality have an undeniable appeal.
The images are lush and ornate, the stories are exciting, and the ideas are less dogmatic and binary gendered than more mainstream belief systems.
What Makes Isis and Horus Smile? Egyptian Tattoos
It’s easy to be drawn into the mysterious and awe-inspiring world of ancient Egypt. Whether you’re fascinated by tales of cursed tombs, or mesmerized by the enigma of the pyramids, ancient Egypt offers a wealth of captivating art and mythology to explore. The entirety of Egyptian culture and history is rife with powerful esoteric symbolism; perfect for tattoos that strive to convey spiritual concepts, or whose purpose is to protect and heal the wearer.
Looking for a tattoo artist?
That's why we’re here. No matter your idea, budget or location, we will help you find the perfect artist for your next tattoo.
For this reason, many people are drawn to tattoos depicting various Egyptian hieroglyphs, deities, rulers, and gods. Thanks to the spiritually-infused nature of Egyptian art and language, symbols can represent several different concepts at once, and often hold multiple layered meanings. This aspect of Egyptian symbolism adds a unique layer of mystery and intrigue to Egyptian tattoos, allowing them to be deeply personal even when highly visible.
In this article, we will explore some of the most popular motifs for Egyptian style tattoos, as well as the best body placements for your design, and important Egyptian figures and symbols to get familiar with!
Top Egyptian Tattoo Questions
What do Egyptian tattoos mean?
Egyptian tattoos can possess many meanings depending on the imagery depicted. Most Egyptian tattoos work to represent spiritual lessons, highlight important historical figures, or showcase appreciation for various gods, goddesses, and deities.
Did Pharaohs have tattoos?
While there are no records of pharaohs with tattoos, it has been discovered that both men and women in ancient Egypt engaged in the practice of being tattooed. While the meaning behind these ancient tattoos is largely unknown, it is believed by some that they possessed a spiritual nature, sometimes being described as “divine formulas”, or even as medicine.
Tattoos in ancient Egypt were also commonly used to denote religious affiliation, profession, or status. A popular example of this lies with the many women who used tattoos to mark them as healers or priestesses. These types of women were commonly associated with the worship of the goddess Hathor, ruler of women, love, fertility, and the sky.
Are tattoos allowed in Egypt?
In modern-day Egypt, tattoos are religiously forbidden according to Sharia law as they are viewed by Sunni Muslims as being a form of bodily mutilation. However, recently a new religious decree found that women may get tattoos for adornment. As of , the Egyptian government doesn't actually even have a tattoo license available for artists hoping to open a studio.
In contrast to today’s times, tattoos were once considered permissible in Egypt for both men and women and were even found among upper-class citizens.
Should I cover tattoos when I visit Egypt?
You do not have to cover your tattoos when visiting Egypt unless you are visiting a mosque. Egyptians are very used to tourist travel, so foreigners with tattoos aren't a rare sight but it's always good to be respectful of the country you happen to be in.
What is the meaning of the Anubis tattoo?
Anubis tattoos are commonly worn to invoke spiritual protection against evil and chaos, but they can also be used to demonstrate concepts like regeneration and “life after death”.
What does the Egyptian eye tattoo mean?
The Egyptian eye tattoo can be a reference to the Eye of Horus or the Eye of Ra. The Eye of Horus tattoo meaning is centered on spiritual protection, as many believe the symbol is capable of warding off evil energies and forces. The Eye of Ra tattoo is believed to possess the destructive power of the sun, as well as the ability to protect buildings and people.
Why did Tupac get a Nefertiti tattoo?
Tupac’s famous Nefertiti chest tattoo came about as a way to honor his mother Afeni Shakur while expressing sentiments of black excellence and feminine strength.
What is the Egyptian symbol for strength?
The Egyptian symbol for strength is known as “Djed”, a hieroglyph regarded as the “backbone of human life”, as well as a continuous source of stable power and strength.
Top Egyptian Tattoo Motifs
Egyptian Cat Tattoo
One of the most revered and cherished animals in ancient Egypt was the domesticated cat. Often saving their owners from poisonous snake and scorpion bites, cats were viewed as essential and beloved protectors within the home.
When designing your Egyptian cat tattoo, remember that you can always experiment with elements like wings, rising suns, or the Eye of Horus.
The ankh tattoo's meaning is centered upon the concept of eternal life. In ancient times, the ankh was referred to as “the key of life”, and was showcased in Egyptian art as being held by prominent spiritual and political figures. As the ankh symbol tattoo is believed to represent both life on Earth and life after death, this powerful Egyptian symbol can be used as a reminder of the soul’s eternal nature.
Eye of Horus Tattoo
The Eye of Horus symbol has been used since ancient times to signify protection while enhancing intuition and supercharging the third eye. So, if you are searching for an Egyptian tattoo to encourage physical safety, healing, or regeneration, the Eye of Horus tattoo may a great selection for you!
Eye of Ra Tattoo
While the Eye of Ra tattoo appear similar to the Eye of Horus, it possesses a different meaning and is connected to the sun’s energy instead of the moon. Those who wear the Eye of Ra tattoo often do so for its strong protective qualities or as a way to channel the masculine energy of the sun.
If you are looking to invite strong leadership qualities into your life an Egyptian Pharaoh tattoo may be the right choice! As a symbol, Pharaohs often work to represent concepts of self-mastery and personal power, making them ideal subject matter for permanent art. So, whether you’re interested in a regal King Tut tattoo or a mysterious Akhenaten design, Egyptian pharaoh tattoos are a powerful way to celebrate Egypt’s history while summoning divine masculine energy.
Egyptian Gods Tattoo
The ancient Egyptians worshipped many goddesses, gods, and deities; often calling upon them for their powers of protection, wisdom, and fertility. Egyptian god tattoos make for visually compelling and spiritually rich pieces, and can easily be used as symbols for various qualities and sentiments depending on which god or goddess you choose.
Depicted as a monster with a woman’s head and a lion’s body, the sphinx serves as a prominent mythological figure within ancient Egypt. Thanks to the Sphinx’s association with the sun god Ra and its strong protective qualities, it has become an iconic motif for Egyptian-themed tattoos.
One of the most easily recognizable symbols of ancient Egypt is the pyramid, making it an excellent motif for any Egyptian-themed tattoo! From hieroglyph accents to imagery of goddesses and pharaohs, the pyramid works well alongside many other Egyptian motifs or on its own.
Egyptian Scarab Tattoo
The scarab beetle was believed by ancient Egyptian civilizations to represent rebirth, transformation, and protection. In today’s times, the scarab tattoo's meaning remains true to its Egyptian roots, serving as a symbol for regeneration and transcendence.
Believed to be a sacred form of writing, Egyptian Hieroglyph tattoos are an excellent way to show your appreciation for ancient Egypt. Whether you’re interested in symbols that represent deities or designs believed to bring about spiritual protection, hieroglyph tattoos are a great way to illustrate the beauty of Egyptian culture while creating a tattoo ingrained with personal meaning.
Important Egyptian Gods and Pharaohs
Son of the mysterious Pharaoh Akhenaten, King Tut came to power at just nine years old. During his short reign, King Tut restored Egypt to its polytheistic roots but then died of malaria at age Tut’s tomb was discovered by archaeologists in and soon became world-famous thanks to the jewelry, gold, statues, and amulets found within.
Today, Tutankhamun tattoos remain a popular way to pay homage to the rich history of ancient Egypt, but can also be used to symbolize royalty, hedonistic tendencies, and strength.
One of the best Egyptian tattoos for females is the Nefertiti tattoo! Nefertiti’s iconic bust has remained a mesmerizing way to celebrate the beauty and power of ancient Egyptian women. Married to the controversial King Akhenaten, Queen Nefertiti was believed to have changed her name after his passing, proceeding to rule over ancient Egypt in his absence.
While Nefertiti tattoo meanings may differ, the design is commonly used as a way to celebrate African roots, divine feminine energy, and beauty. It has also found use as a symbol of prosperity and progress.
Anubis was revered in ancient Egypt as a jackal-headed deity who presided over the underworld and was known to guide souls into the afterlife. Though he is commonly associated with death, the color black used for Anubis’s head was believed to represent the rich soils of the Nile; conveying a concept of rebirth.
A common Anubis tattoo meaning is that of protection, commemorating a loved one lost, or an expression of life after death. When exploring Anubis tattoo designs, it seems one of the most high-impact placements is the Anubis hand tattoo. If you’re looking for a small Egyptian tattoo with a big meaning, this placement might be for you!
Bastet is an Egyptian cat goddess believed to be the protector of women, children, and the home. When exploring Bastet tattoo designs, you can always experiment with motifs like Geometric shapes, ornate jewelry, wings, or the Eye of Ra to personalize your piece.
In ancient Egypt, Ra was depicted as a falcon-headed god believed to be the ruler of the sun and creator of all life forms. Ra tattoos can be used to celebrate mystical sun concepts, or as a way to honor the rich mythology and history of Ancient Egypt.
Daughter of the Earth god and sky goddess, Isis was believed by the Egyptians to possess great powers in the realms of magic, healing, and protection. She was said to resurrect the dead at will and was known to preside over matters of love, marriage, and fertility. Thanks to these attributes, Isis tattoos can be a feminine and creative way to invite more harmony, romance, and wellbeing into your life.
Regarded as one of the most enigmatic and controversial kings of Egypt, an Akhenaten tattoo may be perfect for those captivated by Egypt’s mysterious history. Married to Queen Nefertiti and father of King Tut, Akhenaten held an important role in Egyptian history, with some scholars believing that he may have been Moses of the Bible.
When designing your Akhenaten tattoo, complementary design elements often include imagery like pyramids, Nefertiti portraits, crooks and flails, and sun disks.
Known as the last active ruler of ancient Egypt, Cleopatra is remembered for her sharp intellect and tenacious work ethic. When exploring Cleopatra tattoo meanings, concepts are usually centered on ideas surrounding feminism, sensuality, and power.
Thoth is the gender-fluid Egyptian god believed to maintain the balance of the universe. Thoth tattoos can be used to represent themes of duality, harmony, creative energy, wisdom, secrets, and divinity. A Thoth tattoo can also be a powerful symbol for anyone trying to balance their feminine and masculine energies.
In ancient Egypt, Osiris was believed to be the god of the underworld, agriculture, and fertility. Though he ruled over the dead, Osiris was also viewed by Egyptians as the god of new life and was said to represent new beginnings. Osiris tattoos can be worn to signify themes of immortality and rebirth.
Depicted as a lioness, or a woman with the head of a lion, Sekhmet is ancient Egypt’s goddess of war, disease, healing, and medicine. Though her blood lust for violence was feared, Sekhmet was also considered to be a powerful protector and compassionate healer. Sekhmet tattoos are often worn to represent the protective side of this fierce sun deity and to ward off forces of evil.
Top Body Placements for Egyptian Tattoos
Egyptian Tattoo Back
Thanks to the spacious canvas provided by the back, Egyptian-themed tattoos in this location can incorporate great detail. Whether you’re interested in a large-scale Pharaoh portrait or intricate hieroglyphics and pyramids, the back is an excellent placement for any Egyptian-themed design!
Egyptian Tattoo Forearm
If you’re interested in a stunning Nefertiti bust or an ankh cross tattoo, the forearm is an ideal area to show off your Egyptian style designs. This placement offers high-visibility for your art while offering space for detail and various design elements.
Egyptian Tattoo Chest
Egyptian chest tattoos work wonderfully to showcase high-impact battle scenes, portraits of rulers, or protective symbols like the Eye of Horus. As this area is typically covered, the chest is also a great placement for those seeking more discretion with their design.
Egyptian Tattoo Upper Arm
If you’re thinking of beginning an Egyptian tattoo sleeve, the upper arm may be an optimal placement to consider! Perfect for showcasing Egyptian gods, goddesses, and rulers, this location will provide ample design space while allowing for visibility in warmer months.
Egyptian Tattoo Calf
Whether you’re considering a bold Egyptian cross tattoo or a powerful Black and Grey Anubis tattoo design, the calf is an excellent place to showcase vertically oriented imagery.
We hope that these Egyptian tattoo ideas have helped to inspire you for your next tattoo! If you’re interested in more Egyptian tattoos, check out 16 Symbolic Anubis Tattoos.
More Egyptian Tattoo Idea Inspiration
Written byJennifer R Donnelly
Freelance Journalist | Tattoo & Art CollectorSours: https://www.tattoodo.com/articles/what-makes-isis-and-horus-smile-egyptian-tattoos
Top 57 Egyptian Tattoo Ideas [ 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 theres one thing the Egyptians mastered aside from moving massive stones that still dumbfound us, its 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 theres the gods like Isis, whos renowned for magical seductive and also the daughter or Ra. If youre not familiar with Ra, it is the god of the sun and associated warm weather. Next, there is Osiris, the first Pharaoh, whos 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.
Theres 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 youll 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 isnt quite as clear. Its been said to be a guardian to the buried king who rested in the nearby pyramid.
Theres also the mummy, pyramid and pharaoh, each of which youll 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 AD.
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 s, 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.
Pharaohs haven’t been around for over years, but that does not mean that their images still don’t hold meaning to some people. As you might expect, the pharaoh tattoo has a bunch of different meanings, so we’re going to go over some of the most common ones here.
The pharaoh is a symbol of royalty from Ancient Egypt and let’s be honest, the image looks really cool. To have this inked on your body can have many meanings and most of the symbolism will be up to the person wearing this tattoo. On the other hand, the pharaoh tattoo has a great deal of meaning and we will get to that.
In this post we will talk about the history of the pharaoh and what the image represents. We will also go through the symbolism behind the image of the pharaoh and what it means to those that have this tattooed on their body. If you are looking, you will see some different variations of the pharaoh tattoo and we will talk about those variations and if they mean anything different based on how the image is depicted. By the end of this post, we hope you feel more informed about the pharaoh.
About the Pharaoh
To begin, the usage of the word “Pharaoh” wasn’t being used until about BC. It is the Greek variation of the word ‘pero’ used by the Egyptians. This was a term used for royalty. Before BC, leaders of Egypt were known as kings.
To become a pharaoh, you had to train hard. It was no easy feat to be the pharaoh and you started training early in life. There were specific lessons that children had to take on the road to being the leader of Egypt. Much of this training had to do with fighting and physical strength as the pharaoh was often found leading the army in the battle. He had to be able to fight with his soldiers. They trained to train and ride horses, run long distances and hunting for food. The goal of these young princes was to get the pharaoh to take them under their wing as the co-regent where they would take over the duties of the pharaoh when he died.
As you may have heard, there were often sacrifices and offerings made to the gods in Ancient Egypt. Only the pharaoh was able to make these offerings and to go along with all the physical training the pharaoh participated in, they were also high priests. Only priests and kings were allowed in the buildings where the statues of the gods and the spirits that inhabited them stood.
In contrast with how most countries are run today, the pharaoh had total and absolute power. He was the one deciding the taxes, trade and industry, law and order and any other decision that needed to be made for the country.
As far as their looks, the pharaoh images are always depicted with a beard. However, most men of Ancient Egypt were clean shaven. Because of this, the pharaohs would wear fake beards because it was said the beard brought the pharaohs closer to the gods. They were also depicted as young and handsome when they were actually fat and old in most cases.
Pharaoh Tattoo Meaning
Before we go into the pharaoh tattoo meanings, we should go over why these tattoos continue to be so popular. Some of the most popular Egyptian paintings and other artwork are of the pharaohs. The images are striking, so it’s not surprising that people who want a cool tattoo design decide to get one of the many different variations of the pharaoh tattoo.
Pharaohs were the kings of the land way back when, which is why the most common meaning for the pharaoh tattoo is power. Those who get their pharaoh tattoos to represent power aren’t necessarily saying that they are the most powerful people around. They often get the tattoo to give them the confidence to go after what they want in life. Of course, some people will get the pharaoh tattoo because they are in a position of power.
If someone is of royal descent or wants to be seen as royalty, they might end up getting a pharaoh tattoo to get that message across. Pharaohs were as royal as people came when they were in charge of the Egyptian empire, so don’t be surprised if the person you see with the pharaoh tattoo thinks of themselves as a pretty powerful person.
Pharaohs were out-and-out leaders in their day, so some people will get the pharaoh tattoo to represent leadership. They could get it to show that they are the leaders of their families, leaders in their jobs, or just leaders in general.
Considering that pharaohs were once thought of as “gods on earth,” one of the pharaoh tattoo meanings is just that. Don’t be surprised if the person who owns this tattoo thinks very highly of themselves. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, and it shows that the person has a lot of confidence.
Pharaoh Tattoo Placement
This is generally a large tattoo so people who are trying to cover a large portion of their bodies will often look to one of these designs. For example, the King Tut tattoo is one of the most popular pharaoh tattoo designs out there because it is an excellent large tattoo. Most people who get these tattoos want the headdress to have plenty of detail, so they will put it on their backs or wrap it around their arms.
Pharaoh Tattoo Variations
The pharaoh image is very distinct and when you see it, you know what it is. However, there are some ways you can make your pharaoh tattoo look different than others. Below are a couple examples of the ways we’ve seen the pharaoh tattoo. We hope you will be the next person to get a unique pharaoh tattoo.
Pharaoh Skull Tattoo
The pharaoh and the skull seem to go hand in hand when being tattooed. It is said the half skull; half pharaoh image is the Egyptian symbol for death. There are also many movies that depict the image of the pharaoh with mummies and other undead, so this image seems to be fitting.
Pharaoh and Pyramid Tattoo
The pyramids have long been the main symbol of Ancient Egypt and an image that will forever be remembered as one of the wonders of the world. Therefore, it makes sense that the images of Ancient Egypt would go well together. This is especially true for those with Egyptian heritage. These people might want to use numerous images from the Egyptian lore to show their pride for their roots.
Pharaoh tattoos continue to be some of the best tattoo designs around, so sometimes people will get them for that reason alone. Considering that there are plenty of great meanings that can come with the pharaoh tattoo, chances are the owners will be able to find one that works for them. It’s just one of those tattoos that is universally understood to be cool and there are plenty of ways to make the tattoo unique.
In many cases, you will the see the pharaoh tattoo in a realism style so when you go to your tattoo artist, make sure they are able to work in the style you prefer. The research stage is the most important part about getting a tattoo because you want to feel comfortable with that person. Take your time and if you are having trouble deciding on a tattoo artist, please reach out to us. We have many connections in the tattoo industry and would love to pair you up with an artist that will be able to make your vision come to life. Trust the team at Tattoo SEO and happy hunting!
.60 Egyptian Tattoos For Men
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