There are many tattoo designs to choose from. You can have flowers, quotes, Latin words, and even apostrophes. While all these designs are beautiful in their own way, they do not fit those who want to be unique. Face it, adding a personal touch to a heart does not exactly make you stand out. So if you want to try something new, why not try Egyptian tattoos?
History of Tattoos and Ancient Egypt
The oldest account of humans using tattoos were the Egyptians in the c. 6000 – c. 3150 BCE. These ancient Egyptians were said to use tattoos to praise the goddess Hathor. The tattoo’s design was a few dots and dashes.
However, there was some contention as to what tattoos on Egyptians meant. During the time of these discoveries, there was a bias among early archeologists which led people to believe that tattoos on women were a sign of them being dancers and prostitutes. When this one was challenged, archeologists claimed that these women were part of a cult praising Hathor. While these may be true, tattoos on women could also indicate a high status because mummies were found of high priestesses having tattoos.
Why Egyptian Tattoos?
Have you ever seen anyone with an Egyptian tattoo? If you aren’t familiar with what it looks like, these tattoos often have a mummy, a pharaoh, or a hieroglyph which is the ancient alphabet of Egypt. Egyptian tattoos can be anything from pyramids, eagles, and even depictions of eyes inside triangles.
These all seem very historical, but why should you consider getting an Egyptian tattoo? Is it worth it if your goal is to stand out? Here are a few reasons that might convince you:
- They’re unique.
What are the odds that you find someone who has an Egyptian tattoo? Chances are low, that’s for sure. While you finding someone with heart tattoos, bird tattoos, and the like will always be a given. If you think that the pyramids and faces of pharaohs are too much for you, you can take ancient Egyptian symbols and add meaning to them. You can even use hieroglyphs to create a phrase that you want to remind yourself of.
- They are bold.
The fact that you are choosing to have a historical tattoo on you is a bold decision. Having the face of a pharaoh, even if it’s just small is already a big commitment. At the same time, Egyptian symbols are not simple. Take, for example, their infinity sign. Instead of having a horizontal eight, an Egyptian’s infinity sign is the Shen which is a circle with horn-like shapes around it.
- They carry a history.
Aren’t tattoos more meaningful when they inherently have a rich history with them? Ancient Egypt is known to have used tattoos during the late BCE years. Because of that timeframe, a lot of meaning has been put into it during the time of pharaohs, slaves, and royalty. And mind you, Ancient Egypt is one of the most mysterious histories in the world. Not only does it revolve around people who believed in cursed tombs, but Egypt was also known to have been an early civilization where the birthplace of math, geography, and astronomy are said to have started.
- They are symbolic.
There is no doubt that Egyptian tattoos are symbolic. They carry with them meanings of infinity, heaven and earth, war, and even love. There are also Egyptian symbols that are used to show social class. In fact, tattoos in Ancient Egypt were used as a form of protection to ward off anything that can harm the child in the mother’s womb.
- You can attach modern meanings to it.
You might not believe it, but you can always attach new meanings to Egyptian tattoos. Although some symbols have their meanings and symbols set in stone, you can always mix designs up to suit your style. Some people would think that just because Egyptian tattoos carry a certain history, that it is bound to be like that even in your tattoo. But what does it matter? It’s your tattoo and the meaning you attach to it should be the only important thing.
Consider These Things Before Getting A Tattoo (An Egyptian One, For That Matter)
How much you want it
At the end of the day, it all boils down to how much you want an Egyptian tattoo. Why ask this question? Well, face it, Egyptian tattoos are a bold choice to make because they aren’t common and they carry with them a certain uniqueness and past that some people do not want.
So, ask yourself again, do you really want an Egyptian tattoo? Or are you just doing this to be unique (which is not a bad reason either)? If you think that you want it that much, then it’s time to start thinking of your design.
You will probably spend the most time thinking about the design than anything else. There are many Egyptian tattoo inspirations to choose from – there are amulets, scarabs, letters, and pharaohs. There are also Egyptian animals that were meant to symbolize a lot of things.
When thinking of a design, it is highly recommended that you research on the symbol it portrays. Although you will also be giving your own meaning to it, you don’t want to have a tattoo that gives the wrong idea.
Next is the color. Since tattoo artists can make your tattoo look gradient, you can opt to use black ink for simplicity. You can also choose to add some colors especially if you chose to have a pharaoh tattoo. Pharaoh tattoos are better with different colors to signify the gold and the jewels they wore.
Once you’ve thought of the design and color, it’s time to consider the meaning you will put on the tattoo. One of the best things about getting a tattoo is that it is a mark that shows who you are, your past, and your experiences. You can also use Egyptian tattoos to depict events close to your heart.
If you have done your research, you will notice that Egyptian tattoos are rarely small. This is because Egyptian symbols are always detailed and it will be a waste if those details will not be noticed if you choose to have it downsized. So before you commit to getting an Egyptian tattoo, don’t forget to consider the size.
You can go through a lot of design inspiration for your tattoo, but if you don’t have a great artist in mind, then it might just ruin your picture of the perfect Egyptian tattoo. Aside from focusing on your tattoo, look around for tattoo artists that are able to do the design you want. Since Egyptian tattoos are not a popular choice, you might experience some difficulty in this area. However, to make your life simpler, you can start searching among known tattoo artists who have a great reputation for being artistic.
Where You Can Put Your Egyptian Tattoo
Egyptian tattoos are just like any other tattoo when it comes to where they can be placed in your body. Here are a few common places where you can also put yours.
The arms are the most common area to place your Egyptian tattoo. Not only is it wide enough, but it’s also a great place to show off tattoos that are more elongated. The heads of pharaohs are one design that is often imprinted on the arms.
Although Egyptian tattoos are often medium to large-sized, there are tattoos small enough to fit on your ankles. Take, for example, the Anubis. The Anubis has a compact shape and it does not have much detail which will allow you to adjust its size freely. The ankles are also a great place to put an ankh.
For larger tattoos like the Sphinx, Isis, King Tut, and other Egyptian pharaohs, the back is a perfect place to put them on. The back acts like a huge canvas where large tattoo designs are drawn. If you plan on having a pharaoh, then they are better placed at your back because then their features will be seen in full.
The upper back is also a good place for tattoos with wings like the Winged Ma’at.
Like your back, your chest is a great canvas for large tattoos. Tattoos that are wider can occupy the upper part of your chest just below your collarbone. If you don’t want to have big tattoos on your chest, you can opt for smaller Egyptian tattoos to the side of your chest.
You can also utilize the side of your ribs. If you plan on having subtle Egyptian tattoos like hieroglyphs, your waist is a good place to have a line of hieroglyphs. It can also be in a downward position lining the side of your body parallel to your arms.
Design Ideas And Their Meanings
Not familiar with Egyptian tattoos? Don’t worry, here are a few design inspirations that you might like. You can also check out their meanings below.
The Ankh is a perfect tattoo for those who want small and compact marks. It is often placed in smaller areas of the body like the ankle, wrist, or back of the ear.
The Ankh looks like a cross between a key and a literal cross. In Ancient Egypt, the Ankh is a sign of life and the Nile River. This tattoo is a symbol of the Nile because this particular river is also the major lifeline of Egypt.
Each hieroglyph has its own meaning. Some are symbols, some are words, and some are symbols on their own. Hieroglyphs are the what the ancient Egyptians used for writing and communicating. These are often found inscribed in tombs and pyramids. There are also scriptures found with hieroglyphs on them.
Hieroglyphs are a great replacement for quotes. With the help of a translator, you can create your own quote with the use of these characters. Although it might be difficult to read for a lot of people, it adds a mysterious effect that will make a lot of people curious. Besides, it’s a subtler way of saying things.
The Sphinx is a common symbol in Egypt simply because it has become a tourist spot. The structure was carved from a single piece of stone. If you aren’t familiar, The Sphinx has a face of a man (with a Pharaoh’s headdress) and a body of a lion. A Sphinx tattoo symbolizes protection and safety because the actual statue itself is said to ward off evil spirits from the pyramids. In other words, The Sphinx was created to protect the pyramids and the people buried inside them.
Bast, the Cat Goddess
In Ancient Egypt, the cat was given a high status because it symbolizes fertility. It also symbolizes motherhood. In Egyptian mythology, Bast, the Cat Goddess was said to have defeated the evil Agep and saved the Egyptians from the harm it would have caused. Similar to a mother’s love, the cat Egyptian tattoo can show a mother’s love for you or you can use this tattoo to appreciate your own mother figure.
The Eye of Ra
Although this is somewhat of an eerie tattoo because an eye can be expressive in so many ways, the Eye of Ra is an interesting tattoo inspiration. The Eye of Ra means power, protection, and wisdom. It is a perfect symbol to show how much you’ve grown throughout the years or it can be a symbol to remind you of the great things you can do. There are also other Egyptian tattoos that have eyes on them. The Eye of Horus is one.
Although Egyptian tattoos’ meanings are very straightforward, this should not stop you from adding your personal meaning to them. You can also play around with the design especially when it comes to hieroglyphs and the headdresses of the pharaohs. Although it is still advisable to do a bit of research before deciding on your tattoo.
Taking Care of Your Tattoo
Once you have your tattoo, there are a few things you should do to make sure that it stays in great condition right after you get it. Depending on the tattoo studio you go to, the aftercare tips may vary.
- Protect your fresh new tattoo
Usually, the immediate aftercare for your new tattoo is done by the tattoo artist himself. Other tattoo artists add moisturizing lotion or petroleum jelly right after their work so that your skin will not be prone to irritation. You will notice that your skin surrounding the tattoo will be a bit red, but you don’t have to worry about this one because it is natural.
Your tattoo artist may also wrap your tattoo with a bandage after adding lotion. However, most studios no longer do this so their customer can enjoy their tattoo.
- Do not touch your tattoo
This tip is probably obvious. While it’s okay to show off your new tattoo, you should try your best not to touch it. Since the skin around it is prone to infection and irritation, you don’t want to cause any unnecessary damage to it by touching it with dirty hands (or touching it at all for that matter).
- Wash the tattoo
After at least four hours, you are now allowed to wash your tattoo. When washing your tattoo, you should only use lukewarm water since it is gentle on the skin. You aren’t also allowed to scrub the tattoo because you might ruin it and damage your skin in the process.
What you should do is pour lukewarm water over it, apply soap, and gently wash the tattooed area. Do not scrub the tattoo even with your bare hands. It is also a lot better to use liquid body wash than a solid soap over your tattoo. Then pat dry the area with a towel.
- Cover it with a bandage
For the first few days, it is advisable that you cover your tattoo with a gauze because this will keep it from getting scratched by clothes. It also protects the tattoo from sweaty instances and other bacteria. However, there are tattoo artists who will tell you that you don’t need to cover it up with a bandage. The rule of thumb is that if it will not be in contact with tight clothing, you don’t have to use a bandage.
- Constantly apply moisturizing lotion
For the first two weeks, it is advisable to apply moisturizing lotion or petroleum jelly. This will help heal the tattooed area and it can also relieve you of the pain if there is any. Applying lotion to it will also make sure that the area is moisturized because dry skin is more prone to damage and bacteria.
In the end, it is up to you if you want to take a bold move and get an Egyptian tattoo. It is an uncommon design, but if you really want to stand out and want something with a historic meaning, then Egyptian tattoos are worth the shot.