Egyptian Tattoo Symbols and History

Egyptian tattoos history goes back to nearly 2000 to 3000 BC. Several mummies have been discovered that contain tattoo like drawings on their body. This shows that tattooing was a commonly practiced custom in ancient Egypt and some people even believe that tattoo making originated here. Ancient Egyptians had made a remarkable progress in the field of art and hence we find many drawings and designs that are used today as tattoo designs.

As with all categories and types of tattoo art, the Egyptian tattoos have deeper meanings and are based on Egyptian mythology, scenery and culture. These tattoos are generally very exquisite, intricate and colorful. They are mostly based on or are even a mixture of  the gods and goddesses of the myths which are a mixture of human and mythical forms, pharaohs, pyramids, sphinxes, hieroglyphics, Egyptian designs of the time and the desert.

Such tattoos that have so much detail are usually larger in size, however they can be down scaled to provide small accents or only specific symbols can be used as a nice little decorative touch, such as the eye of the god Horus an ankle or wrist tattoo or a small cobra, scarab or ankhs (general symbol for eternal and present life).

Although in modern day Egypt tattooing is not common, because of religious beliefs. However, this was not always the case and many experts say that the whole idea and art of tattoos actually originated in ancient Egypt and the mummies that have been found even prove it. Both males and females during those times were decorated with tattoos and the practice of tattooing even started in Egypt and traveled slowly with pioneers to all over the world. There are some symbols that are widely used as they have a deep meaning associated to it. They include:

The Ankh:

The Ankh or the Egyptian eye is one of the most popular Egyptian tattoo symbols today. It symbolize life and hence was considered as a sacred symbol. The picture of the Ankh is found in several drawings related to the ancient Egypt. The Ankh is also known as the Egyptian cross and is one of the most iconic tattoo symbols, next only to the Christian cross. The Ankh can be made in different forms and colors and is one of the widely identified ancient Egyptian symbols today.

The Eye of Horus:

Another popular form of the Egyptian tattoo is the eye of the Horus or the eye of the Ra. This is considered as the all seeing eye which was also considered as a sacred symbol as hence, the Egyptian eye tattoos are very popular today. The Egyptian eye of Horus tattoo and the Egyptian ankh tattoo can be made on any part of the body, however, the eye of the Ra tattoo is made on the part of the body where it can easily capture the attention of the viewer. The eye of the Horus is one of the best Egyptian tattoos ideas found today.

Anubis Tattoos:

In ancient Egyptian mythology, Anubis is the god of the dead. He has the body of a man and the head of a jackal. In one hand he wears an ankh cross, in the other a stick.


According to ancient Egyptian culture, Bastet or the Basthet is the goddess of protection, pleasure and health. She has the body of the woman and head of the cat and is popularly known as the cat goddess. She also symbolizes fertility and is associated with childbirth and hence, one of the respected figures in ancient Egyptian culture. The picture of Bastet can make an excellent tattoo design for lovers of ancient art, mythology as well as cat lovers. This tattoo is usually larger in size and therefore, made on back, stomach or shoulders.

Phoenix Tattoos:

The Egyptian phoenix is called Bennu, a mythological bird that is the soul of Ra, the sun god. Bennu created itself out of the ashes of a holy tree that stood near the temple of Ra. It looks like a heron bird. Phoenix tattoos symbolize rebirth.


The Scarab or the Scarabaeid beetle was considered as one of the divine creatures by the ancient Egyptians as it symbolized reincarnation. The beetle was also included in one of the royal titles used by the Egyptian Pharaohs. The scarab can be drawn in a single tattoo design or can even be mixed and matched with other symbols to form a classical Egyptian tattoo art.

Egyptian tattoos are one of the best tattoo designs one can have as they are never out of fashion. Lastly, one should remember that tattoo making and tattoo removal is a painful process and hence, it is essential to put a lot of thought before going for it. Secondly, it is recommended to have a tattoo made by a certified professional tattoo artist.