Hey guys, look! I got a tattoo!
It is an ankh, the Egyptian symbol for eternal life. I got it done just a little more than an hour ago at Mori Ink.
I have been in love with the art and mythology of Ancient Egypt since third grade when we had to do a report on a country of our choice. At first I chose to study Egypt because “mummies are cool and stuff” (I was a morbid child), but I didn’t anticipate how deeply I would fall into the mystery and beauty of the culture. Before long, I was convinced that I would be an egyptologist when I grew up, exploring tombs, solving puzzles left in hieroglyphics, and discovering artifacts, being the first one to lay eyes on them in thousands of years. For years I would spend hours going through books and issues of National Geographic learning about the different gods they worshiped and appreciating the unique art styles that the Ancient Egyptians left behind.
Although my interests and aspirations regarding careers have changed, a part of me will always be that eight-year-old kid, enthralled with the dense history of Egypt and wanting to discover more and more. It was one of the first things that I truly nerded out over, and it was one of the first things I associated with that was recognized by others. My love for Ancient Egypt became part of my identity in that time when you’re growing up and deciding who you want to be and what you want people to see you as. My relatives sent me books, magazine articles, dvds, and even recordings of college lectures all about the history of Egypt. For years, I would always answer “egyptologist” when asked that bland question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” It set me apart from the aspiring veterinarians and pop starts (or, what every other little girl wanted to be back then).
I have so much admiration for the art and mythology of Egypt that it was not a huge jump for me to first decide I wanted to get an ankh tattoo years ago (actually though, I can remember drawing the symbol on my hand where it is now there permanently while I was bored in a sociology class three years ago). Despite the fear that people still judge tattoos, especially ones you can’t cover up, it seems like my hand is where an ankh belongs.
In Egyptian art, ankhs are either held by the base or the loop on top and is often being offered to humans by a god or goddess. It is something that you carry around with you. Because it resembles a key, it’s considered a “key of life” or “key of the Nile”. An ankh is the protection and luck that’s needed for a long and happy life. The exact origins of the symbol are also unknown, which I love about it because it holds true to the mystery I associate with the culture.
Based on where I am right now, about to move to a new city and experience a lot of changes, a little protection here on out is exactly what I need. I know some people were worried about the placement and permanency of this exercise in individuality and act of reckless adulthood (as they probably should be), but I feel really good about it. It’s something that has been waiting and growing in the back of my mind, and was in no way a spur of the moment idea. If you know me in real life, you have probably noticed how often I either wear an ankh or cartouche of my name in hieroglyphs. I like it a lot and I’m looking forward to meeting new people and being able to explain my tattoo to them; I think it will be a great introduction to who I am and how much I love exploring history and art.