Tattoos of ancient Egyptian symbols, from hieroglyphics to the faces of pharaohs, are popular among those interested in this historic culture. Specifically, tattoos of gods and goddesses, like Isis tattoos, are popular for the symbols they represent.
The Story of the Goddess Isis
Isis is a goddess of ancient Egyptian religion and was first mentioned by name in writings from circa 2400 BCE. This goddess was known for bringing her brother and husband, Osiris, back from the dead and creating this son, Horus.
In Egyptian paintings, she is usually displayed as either standing, sitting, or kneeling with a throne-shaped headpiece above her hair. She is also sometimes depicted with wide, colorful wings.
From 1000 BCE onward, Isis and Osiris were the most commonly worshipped Egyptian gods. Multiple temples were built specifically for Isis, and it was thought that she was the most powerful of all the Egyptian religion’s gods.
Prior to the turn of the first century, the Greeks had begun to worship Isis, and after the turn of the first century, the Romans had begun to worship her too.
Isis Tattoo Meaning
the most powerful Egyptian god as well as the cleverest and wiserepresenting the struggles and protective nature of a mother. It also represents wisdom, cleverness, and magical power, making this tattoo a symbol of strength and mysticism.
In the ancient Egyptian religion, Isis is known as the mother of Horus, another god known for divine intuition. As part of her story, she gave birth to Horus near the Nile River and protected him from poisonous snakes and scorpions with her own life. There are also many works of art, including sculptures, depicting Isis caring for or nursing her young son.
For many tattoo wearers, a tattoo of Isis represents motherhood or a strong mother figure. Specifically, women who are mothers themselves may relate to the struggles Isis faced in stories involving her and her son’s survival in Egypt.
Others may see Isis as a representation of a motherly figure in their own lives, especially a figure that is caring and protective.
According to ancient texts, after her husband and brother, Osiris, was killed, Isis became a mourning widow. However, she used her grief as a way to bring him back to life in another realm known as the Duat, or afterlife.
This led to Isis becoming a symbol of rebirth and second chances, and this story of Isis and Osiris was often told during funeral services in ancient Egypt.
Isis is also seen as a symbol of protection not only because she protected her son, but because she also protected Osiris in the afterlife, and she was often seen by Egyptians as the mother of the afterlife.
Egyptian people also believed Isis was the one who would welcome the deceased into the Duat realm and provide them with nourishment and rejuvenation.
3. Wisdom and Magic
Isis is often regarded as the most powerful Egyptian god as well as the most clever and wise. In many stories, she is able to prevent conflicts and battles by outwitting other gods. She was also known as the provider of rain on Earth, which was important to the cultivation of crops for the people of ancient Egypt.
All of these factors combined make Isis a symbol of magic and power, which tattoos of the goddess can certainly represent.
Rihanna’s Isis Tattoo
Celebrity icon Rihanna is known for having a large Isis tattoo inked on her chest.
For her tattoo, the goddess Isis is depicted in a pose similar to that often found on the walls of the tombs of the Pharaohs, which is kneeling with outspread wings and her throne-shaped headpiece. While Rihanna’s tattoo is black and white, it does contain intricate details, like shading on the body of Isis.
Rihanna cites the symbolism of her Isis tattoo being motherhood, and she received the ink as a dedication to her grandmother.
Isis Tattoo Designs
1. Isis Wings Tattoo
Source: Cathy Artwork.
Perhaps the most popular depiction of Isis in tattoos is Isis with wings, which is similar to the depictions of the goddess found in ancient Egyptian tombs. With her wings, Isis is thought to be the total protector of souls in the afterlife.
2. Isis Portrait
Source: Elo B Tattoo.
Another common tattoo design of Isis is the profile of Isis or a portrait of Isis in a standing or sitting position, especially on a throne. By showing Isis in these positions, the natural beauty of the goddess can be shown easily, and this beauty can then stand as a symbol of strength.
3. Seated on a Throne
Source: Dark Veil Tattoo.
To show Isis’s place as a symbol of royalty, some designs seat her on a throne. This especially associates her with the pharaohs of ancient Egypt, and it gives her a higher sense of power compared to depicting her standing or kneeling.
4. Isis Hieroglyphics
Source: Atelie Esmeralda Tattoo.
Perhaps the most traditional type of Isis tattoo is the forms of hieroglyphics (Greek for “sacred carving”) containing images of Isis. These hieroglyphics may be either based on photos of real ancient hieroglyphics or a combination of many hieroglyphic symbols.
In either case, tattoos of Egyptian hieroglyphics keep depictions of Isis historically accurate and can be made with simple lines without the need for shading.
5. Incorporating Egyptian Symbols
Source: Daniel Nabil Ink.
Isis can also be shown in combination with other symbols of ancient Egypt, such as the eye of Horus, her son, to add emphasis on her place within Egyptian culture. Another symbol that is often added alongside Isis are symbols of pyramids, which represent the walls of the tombs where Isis was often painted.
Isis Tattoo Placements
1. On the Back
The upper or lower back is a great place for a tattoo of Isis, especially Isis with her outspread wings. The chest or stomach may also be a large enough area to cover with the winged goddess though the back tends to be more flat and give more space for additional symbols to be added.
2. On the Arm
Arms are perhaps the most common areas for Isis tattoos to be placed, especially vertical-oriented ones. Portraits of Isis can be easily placed in these areas.
3. On the Thigh
Thigh tattoos of Isis offer a more private, intimate placement. They symbolize the wearer’s personal connection to the goddess and her attributes, keeping these qualities close to their physical and emotional center.
Isis is a symbol of motherhood, rebirth, wisdom, and magic, and she holds a special place in ancient Egyptian religion. She is also a figure commonly tattooed all over the body on both men and women, and her status of a goddess is only one of the many reasons people choose to detail her in ink.