Most people will have heard of Ancient Egypt but not everyone will be familiar with the god called Anubis.In Ancient Egyptian mythology, Anubis relates to death and the afterlife, as well as cemeteries, tombs, embalming, and mummification.
Anubis is most often depicted as a dog – a jackal or wolf – or a man with a canine head. Tattoos about Anubis usually adopt this imagery as a symbol of power, protection, and helpfulness, or as a reminder to live a just and worthy life.
So, you think an Anubis tattoo might be right for you but you’re not sure what it means?
This article outlines all the possible meanings of an Anubis tattoo so that you can see whether this type of tattoo is for you.
Who is the god Anubis?
Anubis, or Anpu in the Ancient Egyptian language, is a god connected to the underworld. Over the centuries he had many roles, from embalmer, guide, and protector to the all-important ‘Guardian of the Scales’.
In the First Dynasty (3100-2890 BCE), Anubis was an embalmer and his role was to treat the dead body and preserve it so that it would not decompose. This was necessary for entry into the afterlife.
By the Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 BCE), Anubis helped to guide the souls of dead people through the underworld.
His main role was to weigh the person’s heart against a feather to judge whether they were worthy of entering the afterlife.
What does an Anubis tattoo symbolize?
Anubis had many roles in Ancient Egyptian mythology which means that an Anubis tattoo can symbolize many things as well. Here are some of the most popular meanings of an Anubis tattoo:
Anubis was a god of the underworld and he had power over the souls of the dead.
Anubis protected graves and cemeteries and the bodies buried in them. Most tombs in Ancient Egypt were carved with prayers to Anubis, asking him to look over them and protect them from evil spirits and bad energy.
Anubis guided peoples’ souls as they moved from the realm of the living into the underworld, best known as the realm of the dead.
Anubis was known as the ‘Guardian of the Scales.’ In the Book of the Dead, the Ancient Egyptian funerary text, Anubis is the god who measures a person’s heart against Ma’at (truth), which is shown as a feather.
Here, Anubis was measuring whether a person had lived a good and just life and was worthy of entering the realm of the dead.
Anubis had the ultimate power. If your soul was lighter than the feather, you would ascend into the heavens. If your heart was heavier, you would be devoured by the demon goddess Ammit.
Anubis had ultimate control over the fate of the souls of the dead. Once your heart was compared to Ma’at, you were in his complete control.
What does an Anubis tattoo look like?
Ancient Egyptian tattoos can be very colorful, intricate, and complex and Anubis tattoos are no different! People also like the simplicity of black, grey, and white.
Anubis tattoos are usually a hyper-realistic and detailed picture of the jackal or wolf animal. Depending on the theme the user wants to portray, Anubis can be drawn with a mean, menacing, powerful, or kind face.
Monochrome tattoos, which are tattoos in black and white with perhaps a little grey, are bold choices for Anubis tattoos.
People also like to use traditional colors from ancient Egypt including gold, teal, yellow and red, to make their Anubis tattoo stand out.
Why is Anubis a popular tattoo choice?
Anubis is a popular tattoo choice for many reasons:
- He symbolizes power and protection
- He represents judgment over a moral life
- He is part of the Ancient Egyptian pantheon
- He is depicted as a powerful wolf or jackal
- He presides over the underworld
- Egyptian mythology tattoos are beautiful, colorful, and can be extremely complex.
If you’re a fan of tattoos that are brimming with symbolism, an Anubis tattoo might be right for you. He is usually drawn large and with bold, powerful strokes.
What are the best locations for an Anubis tattoo?
There is no ‘best’ location for an Anubis tattoo, but there is a ‘best’ location for you.
If you want to depict power and protection, having Anubis on the back of your neck is a great place.
If your Anubis symbolizes the ‘weighing of the heart’ ceremony, he would be right at home on your chest, placed right above your heart.
If you want your tattoo to remind you to live a just and worthy life, having the tattoo on your hand or arm will make sure you’re more likely to see it every day.
Most importantly, be yourself. Place your tattoo on the part of your body that feels right for you.
Can you combine Anubis with another Egyptian symbol?
Yes, you can. Anubis is commonly depicted with an Ankh symbol or an Eye of Horus.
The Ankh is an Ancient Egyptian hieroglyph that was used to represent the word ‘life’. It can be used to symbolize life itself and even eternal life.
In Ancient Egypt, the Ankh could also be used to represent the elements that were necessary for life: water, air, and the sun.
Horus was an Ancient Egyptian god that symbolized kingship. The Eye of Horus, also known as a wedjat eye, is a stylized human or falcon eye.
It was a symbol of protection, well-being, and healing. It is also believed to have magical powers of protection to whoever wears the symbol.
So, is an Anubis tattoo right for you?
When considering getting a tattoo, it’s always worth taking the time to research the symbolism and what it means. An Anubis tattoo can symbolize power, protection, helpfulness, judgment, or control. Or perhaps a combination of all of them!
This article shows that if you’re thinking about getting an Anubis tattoo, there are many meanings behind the animal-headed symbol that might be right for you.