One of our all time favorite books, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, will be making the jump from the page to our television sets (or computer monitor, or iPad, or whatever) when it premieres on Starz this April 30th. Over the next week we will be looking at how American Gods, the real-life gods that inspired the characters, and some of Gaiman’s other work that have found their way into the world of tattoos. Be sure to check out these killer depictions of Kali.
There are some impressive gods in the Egyptian pantheon, but none of them are quite as intimidating as Anubis — the dog-headed guide of the dead. Anubis is associated with the practice of mummification and other aspects of the afterlife. He’s typically depicted as canid, appearing in the form of a jackal or the canine equivalent of the Minotaur. According to mythology, he is both an embalmer of corpses and protector of tombs. One of his most important roles, however, is guiding souls beyond the grave, much like Neil Gaiman’s tattooed female version of Death in The Sandman, and weighing their hearts to see if they are worthy of the afterlife.
The foreboding figure of Anubis has been a part of art ever since he was originally depicted in hieroglyphics. Over the course of thousands of years his iconic image has transformed from pictographs into full-blown works of art, both visual and literary. Given the striking appearance and grim subject matter associated with his figure, it’s not shocking that so many people have had Anubis inscribed onto their skin. As far as soul-shepherding psychopomps go, he rivals even the Grim Reaper’s ghastly appearance.
When in tattoo form, Anubis looks particularly foreboding when rendered in solely black ink, as demonstrated by Otheser’s composition and the black and grey pieces by Jordan Baker and Israel Solano. Though these darker styles suit his grim aesthetic, tattooists such as Jackie Rabbit have created color portraits of Anubis, and Bobby Johnson demonstrates how neo-traditional makes all animals look godly, especially when they’re actually gods.
To see more tattoos by all of these excellent artists, maybe even a few more Egyptian gods, make your way like a soul with a heavy heart to their Instagrams. Should you want a depiction of this divine dog of death on your skin, consider having one of them execute it for you. Also, don't forget to watch the premiere of American Gods on April 30th.