When it comes to body art that depicts ancient civilizations and myths, Egyptian scarab tattoo art ranks high on the list of popular designs. Find out why an unassuming beetle often manages to bewitch ink lovers more than powerful Egyptian gods and goddesses.
The Truth About Scarabs
The scarab that appears most often in Egyptian works of art, power amulets and modern tattoos is a simple dung beetle known as Scarabaeus sacer, or the large sacred scarab. Along with its superstar mythological status, the scarab's best known legacy involves rolling balls of dung in the earth and then depositing them into the family mound for use as an egg incubator. When the eggs hatch, the larvae consume the dung ball and then scurry out of the ground. Given the scarab's penchant for dallying with things of an unclean nature, you may wonder how it ever came to possess such prestige, but believe it or not, there is a great deal of powerful symbolism associated with this small bug.
Scarab Mythology and Symbolism
Most scarab symbolism relates to early Egyptian origination myths involving the "mound of creation" that resembles the dung beetle's mound. When baby scarabs emerged from the mound, it seemed like an unexplainable act of spontaneous creation to ancient civilizations. Later, the Egyptian god, Khepri ("coming into being" or "who brings into being"), was depicted as a scarab or as a man with a scarab's head. Khepri attained sun god status for a time because he pushed the sun across the sky every day like a dung beetle pushes, or rolls, a ball of dung across the earth. The next day, the sun miraculously reappeared in the sky, reinforcing the scarab's association with creation and rebirth. During mummification, people tending to the deceased often sought to replicate the scarab's miraculous regeneration by placing a scarab charm over the deceased's heart. Many times, this charm contained a spell from the Book of the Dead to ensure the deceased's heart remained true during final judgment.
Egyptian Scarab Tattoo Designs
Scarab tattoos can take on any form the bearer desires from traditional Egyptian depictions to contemporary and stylized drawings. For best results, take your own personal tastes into account regarding color, shape and line style before you choose a scarab design. Don't forget to consider things like skin tone, size and tattoo placement as well.
Online Art and Designs
One of the best resources for choosing a tattoo design is the Internet. Even if you aren't interested in purchasing a design or a piece of flash art, you can use the images to figure out which elements you want in your own tattoo. Take a look at the links below to fire up your inspiration.
- Vanishing Tattoo: Not only does this site provide flash, designs and photos for Egyptian scarab tattoos, it also offers more information about scarab beetle mythology.
- Tattoo Johnny: The artists featured on this flash site are well-known for submitting gorgeous drawings and designs. Browse the Egyptian design section and the insect section for scarabs and beetles.
- Tattoos by Design: You'll only find one scarab design here, but it's a good resource for inspiration about Egyptian tattoos.
- Deviant Art: The winged scarabs here are colorful and well-rendered.
- Free Tattoo Designs: Scroll about three quarters down the page to see a beautiful green scarab against a feathered background.
Design Your Own
If none of the ink you've seen so far has inspired you, consider getting together with a good tattoo artist and create your own scarab design. Check out the basic design elements to consider below.
- Plain scarab
- Winged scarab
- Metallic scarab
- Human with a scarab head
- Scarab pushing a depiction of the sun
- Pyramid with scarab
- Jewel encrusted scarab
No Wrong Design
Whatever Egyptian scarab tattoo design you choose, it's important to remember that it's your skin, your interpretation and your decision. In the colorful world of body art, there is no wrong design when the end result expresses your uniqueness as an individual.