Ankh Tattoo Meanings And Symbolism: Then And Now

Here’s what you need to know before getting that ankh tattoo.

By Diana Nadim
Ankh Tattoo Meanings And Symbolism: Then And Now

Brief History Of Ankh Tattoos

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If you were to go for a tattoo, bet you’ll want an original one; something that will make you stand out, yet still resonate with your ideas. Well, an EgyAnkhn themed tattoo - the Ankh blissfully serves that feeling.

Its spiritual significance is ageless. For instance, it is now a universal art and more influential in today's modern world.  The fact that the body art scene in the Western countries has also embraced this archaic art elevates the Egyptian flair to its peak.

Ankh tattoos are one of the many reasons why the Egyptian art culture has been enchanting since time immemorial. The sign, which is a symbol of life, was used in art and writing. 

Its design represented the sun and its life-enriching qualities. It was a common decorative motif to the Pharaohs who believed in its power to sustain and revive life through rebirth.

It mostly appears on Egyptian tombs, hailing the precious gift of the life of the dead person, and assuring the living of everlasting life. They also believed that it was a charm of good luck.

What Does An Ankh Tattoo Symbolize?

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It is in the form of a teardrop-shaped hoop at the top that connects to a cross directly below it. The hoop represents the sun, which enriches life by giving resources and energy to the land.

The horizontal part of the cross represents the horizon, while the vertical bar represents the path of the sun rays. These rays echo the sun's blessings on humanity.

At the most basic level, the Ankh symbolizes the riches of life that you enjoy daily. However, there’s more to it. What is it? Read on and find out.

1. Physical Life On Earth

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Since the Ankh represented the sun, Ancient Egyptians believed that it brought them good fortunes because the sun has various elements such as minerals that contribute to creating a good life for them.

Apart from that, the sun rays that touch across the whole land allow good growth, which sustains human beings while they are alive.

2. The Afterlife

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Oh, how soothing it is to believe that there’s eternal life in heaven! Egyptians believe that the Ankh is the ‘key to eternity’ that unlocks the gate to the underworld.

Some argue that the hoop on the symbol is a portal through which the spirits pass safely from earth to the afterlife. This is why it is unsurprising to find images of an Ankh on most ancient Egyptian tombs.

3. Marriage Union

The Pharaoh and other members of the royal family symbolized the union between man and woman using the Ankh. It represented the blessing of life in the children from the union.

4. Reincarnation

People believed that the gods gifted the Ankh to the dead, through which they could back come to life by rebirths. It is fundamentally a sign of eternal life.

Therefore, if you look like a relative who died before you were born, you can get this tattoo! You could be your relative in his afterlife.

Variations Of The Ankh Tattoo Design And Differences In Their Meanings

Some people go for this undying badge simply because they find Ancient Egypt fascinating, while others use it as a medium of expression. However, if you want to give purpose to your body art, it is crucial to know that there are plenty of designs, each with a different meaning.

Which one will blow your mind off? Read on and find out.

Plain Ankhs

It is the most basic and the most common tattoo you see in the streets. Its simplicity and solid color make it ideal for every body part. You can brilliantly draw a small plaint at behind the ear, or the foot. You’d look even better with it within the wrist or the hip.

Similarly, it works for larger areas such as the shoulder, back, and the calves. You can later make it a foundation of a bigger tat by using different images and symbols to modify it.

Colored Ankh

Egyptian art culture is proof that colors speak. They value especially Green, Blue, Red, Yellow, black, and white. Therefore, you can pair your drawing with any of these colors to give it a deeper meaning.

For instance, you can use Green, which symbolizes growth, to add life to your art.

What Other Symbols Can You Incorporate With An Ankh Tattoo?

You can personalize your art even further by incorporating other ornate elements of the Egyptian culture, such as religious and floral motifs.

Gods and Goddesses

Egyptians believed that gods and goddesses bless the Ankh. Therefore, you can add the symbol of a god on the Ankh to give it a bigger meaning. The functions of the god will blend with the Ankh’s abundance of life.


The scarab is a species of a dung beetle that was associated with the gods. It usually makes round balls of dung, lay, and hatched its eggs in them.

It was proof that from dead matter, life is reborn. For this reason, artists carve the Ankh onto the wing of the scarab to connect transformation to eternity.


Combining the ancient Egyptian writings and the Ankh will garner second glances from people who desperately wish to decipher the meaning.

You can denote a meaningful name to your art and make people wonder about the secret in your tattoo.

How Valued Are Ankh Tattoos?

The versatility of this body art makes it a universal symbol.

1. Demonstrate Status In Society

It was common among members of the royal families, both in life and death. Wearing the symbol not only links one to royalty but also acts as an attractor of wealth and good-tidings.

2. Emphasizes Knowledge Of The Mystical

Even though there were illiterates in Archaic Egypt, the Ankh was one of the few symbols they understood.

Today, individuals take pride in wearing them to prove that they know culture and history. Who wouldn’t love to appear complex and wise at the same time?

3. Bonds Families

There is nothing stronger than the chain between families. And since the Ankh represented the union of man and woman and their lineage, archaic Egyptians wore the tat to honor their families in the flesh.

4. Protection

The link of the Ankh to gods not only made Egyptians wear it in life but also carry it to the grave. They believed that the gods and goddesses could save their souls, provide and protect them in the afterlife

How Are Ankh Tattoos Used Today?

The influence of modernity on the Ankh tattoo is something you cannot miss. However, it is prudent to know that the charm of tattoos can mean differently in various cultures.

Check out how society today is using this undying art.

1. Decoration

These days, it’s an abstract symbol for life, and it is on necklaces everywhere.

It is the most decorative sign ever, especially on objects such as mirrors, mirror cases, and floral bouquets.

2. Symbol Of African Culture Identity

Africans living in Western countries do not take chances to remind themselves that home is where their hearts are. And, they have this symbol to show for it.

Since it is of African origin, individuals from Africa who live oversees, use Ankh amulets, pendants, and body art to bond with the memory of their African descent.

3. Computing

If you want proof that the Ankh is an undying art, check with man’s most recent innovation, the computer. The sign is featured twice, as an encoding text and symbol in computing!

4. To Show Spiritual And Religious Devotion

There’s one thing in the Ankh that the Christians relate with; eternal life. While other arts slipped away with the birth of Christianity, the ankh strayed into the Coptic Christians who use it to reinforce Christ’s message of life after death.

5. Channels An Individual’s Feelings

Ankh tattooing, as a form of self-expression, has gained appeal over recent years. Individuals from all over the world can express their in-depth personal feelings using this mystical symbol.

For instance, you can let out your inner thoughts and beliefs by drawing this special art anywhere on your body.

Related Article: 20 Beautiful Spiritual Tattoos to Express your Soulfulness
20 Beautiful Spiritual Tattoos to Express your Soulfulness

Spiritual tattoos that carry the meaning of life and for protection


Clearly, the Ankh tattoo is a thought-provoking one. For this reason, you can now create your own identity using this art, and leave everyone guessing what it means. It is worthwhile!