Tattoo Designs & Symbols

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Tattoo designs - A >> Ankh

Ankh tattoo image Ankh Tattoo Design Meanings - To the ancient Egyptians, the ankh symbol -- a hieroglyph - meant 'Life'. Egyptologists still puzzle over the precise origin of this sign from the ancient world. The ankh is a fascinating hybrid of two nearly universal symbols, ones found in many cultures all over the world, the cross and the circle. The shape of the ankh suggests the sunrise, with the loop depicting the sun rising over the horizon, symbolized by the crossbar, with the vertical line representing the path of the sun. One theory holds that its unique shape represents the male and female gods, Osiris and Isis. The cross stood for the male phallus and testicles, while the oval signified the womb. The joining together of the cross and the circle represents the union of heaven and earth. The ankh has also been called the 'belt-buckle' of Isis. Also, the 'sandal strap', if you can visualize loop around the ankle. The ankh also symbolized the water used in purification rituals. Metal mirrors were sometimes shaped like the ankh sign, perhaps reflecting the belief that life and death mirror each other. It was also worn as an amulet for magical protection.

Many of the gods of ancient Egypt that were carved and painted in tombs and temples were shown holding the ankh, along with the sceptre. One such painting shows Isis holding the ankh sign in front of the mummy of a deceased member of the royal family. This gesture was believed to symbolize the breath of life eternal. With the passage of time, the ankh came to symbolize life-giving water and air, and the power of the universe.

When the Egyptian era was eclipsed by the Christian in the Middle-East, the pagan ankh was adapted by the Egyptian Copts as their own unique crux ansata (cross with a handle). It became the crucifix symbol in the Coptic Church, representing the hope of future life and resurrection, and at the same time acknowledging the link to previous religions and beliefs of Egypt. In later years, it came to be known as the Egyptian Cross and the 'key of life', its key-like shape inspiring the belief that it could unlock the gates of death.

Today the ankh is a favourite with Neo-pagan spiritual groups. This ancient symbol is sometimes blended with theological concepts and appears as such in the sacred seal in the occult world. Its unique and dramatic shape, its history, and its association with life, death, and the hereafter, have made it popular in the world of fantasy fiction, video games and comics, especially with Goth overtones.

Ankh Inspiration Gallery - Click here to get inspired!The ankh's many variations are a popular tattoo motif among celebrities and sports professionals, especially wrestlers. Professional skateboarder, M. Rogowski, has his own 'Ankh model' board.

In another interesting symbolic conversion, the design of Celtic Cross also features the convergence of the symbols of the cross and the circle.

See also: Lucky Tattoo Index

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Tattoo designs - A >> Ankh

Tattoo Symbol Index - A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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