The Meaning of Anubis in the Mythology
In Egyptian mythology Anubis is revered as the god of death and the afterlife, as well as the guardian of lost souls, children and the misfortunate.
The name Anubis has its roots in the Greek language, originally stemming from the Egyptian “Anpu” which means “to decay”. Anubis is depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphs as a man with the head of a canine or jackal.
It is believed that this canine form was chosen to ward off the wild dogs known to dig up the graves of the dead during ancient times.
The visual representation of Anubis works in many ways to symbolize the concept of regeneration and spiritual protection.
Anubis’s head was traditionally shown as black in color which represented his association with death and the afterlife. While ancient Egyptians recognized black as the color of decay, they also connected it to the fertile soils of the Nile which represented rebirth and life. In this way, the color black worked to symbolize the concept of “life after death”.
Anubis is considered to be one of the oldest gods in Egyptian mythology and while his role has shifted depending on context and time period, he is most commonly associated with mummification, guarding the dead and the resurrection of the soul to the afterlife.
He was believed to hold within him the mysteries of life and death, and to assist in the process of weighing a soul’s heart against that of the “feather of truth”. This mystical process was believed to determine which souls had earned access to the afterlife and which would be devoured by the goddess Ammit.
Though Anubis’s most popular role was associated with the transition from this life to the next, he was also known to fiercely protect the graves of the dead from the living.
In Egyptian mythology Anubis is notorious for his victorious battle against his evil father Set (also referred to as “Seth”), the God of chaos and trickery. It was believed that in his war against Set, Anubis had branded his skin with a hot iron, a story which was later believed to explain why the leopard’s skin was adorned with spots.
Anubis was said to have then flayed Set, wearing his spotted skin as a warning to those who dared to disrupt the graves of the deceased. Priests who worked with the dead in ancient Egypt were known to wear leopard skin as a way to pay homage to Anubis’s victory over evil.
The Meaning of Anubis Tattoos
An Anubis tattoos meaning can vary widely depending on the wearer. Some choose to adorn their body with the symbol of Anubis in remembrance of a loved one’s crossing over.
Others choose the symbol to express their spiritual beliefs regarding the afterlife, or as a token of protection against evil doers and agents of chaos and disorder.
Some view their Anubis tattoos as symbols of death’s duality, giving way to the idea that a physical death is just a transition into a new form of life.
Regardless of the personal meaning behind this powerful symbol, Anubis in his many depictions works to create an amazing Egyptian inspired tattoo rich with possible interpretations and spiritual depth.
Depending on the design motif you choose, your Anubis tattoo can be easily altered to convey your own personal connection to the God of the Underworld! Anubis can be depicted holding the golden scale to symbolize purity of spirit, or for those seeking to wear a tattoo that wards against evil, Anubis wearing leopard skin is also an excellent choice!
Top Placements for Anubis Tattoos
Anubis Hand Tattoo
Anubis hand tattoos work wonderfully to showcase the detailed head of the God of Death and the Afterlife.
Many have chosen to include the Egyptian symbol of the “ankh” within this design, an ancient Egyptian symbol which represents the key to eternal life.
Anubis Forearm Tattoo
If you’re looking for a larger piece, an Anubis forearm tattoo is a perfect placement to bring more detail to the design.
Many have chosen to include the Egyptian “crook and flail” within this design, a symbol representing the principles of mercy and severity, or in other words, spiritual notions of guidance and transcendence through struggle.
The forearm offers a prime landscape to incorporate more unique and personalized symbols within the design and can work as an excellent start to a sleeve!
Anubis Head Tattoo
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, or you’re rocking a shaved or partially shaved hair style, an Anubis head tattoo can be a really fun placement!
This is great for simpler designs focusing on the fierce jackal head of the ancient god.
Anubis Back Tattoo
For those seeking inspiration for a big piece, Anubis back tattoos really comes to life thanks to the large size of the canvas. With ample space to illustrate your design, Anubis back pieces can be used to vividly depict a plethora of stories within Egyptian mythology.
One popular choice for Anubis back tattoos features Anubis alongside the Egyptian god of the sky, Horus. Both Anubis and Horus were known enemies of the treacherous god Set.
Tattoos featuring both of these gods side by side could be interpreted as symbols of protection against evil, and embodiments of the spirit world.
Egyptian mythology is rich with stories to choose from when designing your Anubis tattoo, and there is no better placement for detailed story telling than a large back piece!
Anubis Legs Tattoo
Although Anubis designs can work anywhere on the body, the legs are another prime option for Anubis tattoo placement! The side or back of the leg works well to bring life to your unique vision.
If you’re looking to incorporate other Egyptian gods and goddesses, the back of the legs is a perfect place to display the images side by side.
Anubis and Osiris tattoos have become popular as a way to represent the concepts of death and rebirth. In Egyptian mythology Osiris was brutally murdered by his brother Set. Afterwards, Anubis reassembled Osiris’s body and brought him to the afterlife.
It was after this process that Osiris took over Anubis’s role as god of the underworld, although they continued to work side by side.
Exploring the different roles of the gods and their relation to one another can inspire a truly unique tattoo that works perfectly on the legs.
“Eye of Anubis” Tattoos
Many of us are familiar with the “eye of Horus” tattoo design, but little known is about this symbols connection to the god Anubis.
The eye of Horus was used in ancient Egypt as a symbol of protection, good health and royal power, commonly displayed on amulets, sarcophaguses and the tombs of the dead. This symbol was believed to offer the soul safe passageway into the next life.
In this way, we can see how this symbol has become associated with Anubis, the ruler of the afterlife and god of mummification.
The personal meaning for an “eye of Anubis” tattoo can vary depending on the wearer. It can easily be used as a token of protection, a symbol of transcendence to another plane of existence, or a representation of the afterlife.
Horus and Anubis Tattoos
In Egyptian mythology, Horus is the half-brother of Anubis and the god of the sky. Horus is also associated with the sun and moon and considered to be the avenger of wrongs and defender of order.
Horus and Anubis tattoos take on a powerful symbolic meaning, as both have ties to the mysteries of what lies beyond this plane, and both are concerned with justice and protection from evil.
Many people have chosen to work various Egyptians symbols into tattoos featuring both Horus and Anubis, from images of pyramids to detailed ankhs and corresponding hieroglyphs. Both defeated the nefarious god Set in battle, which makes these symbols the perfect representation of “good vs evil”.
Whatever your personal take on these mystical beings, there is a plethora of mythology to choose from when creating your one of a kind Anubis and Horus tattoo!
More Anubis Tattoo Designs
Seeking more Anubis tattoo ideas? Whether you want a full color Anubis tattoo, or you're considering a black or tribal piece, we’ve got you covered. Check out our picks of the best Anubis tattoos below!