Ibis tattoo meaning and symbolism

The ibis is one of the most ancient and magical birds. Some call it the ‘Thoth bird’ in reference to an important Egyptian god, because of its habit of holding a pen or paintbrush. In ancient Egypt, ibis tattoos were probably reserved for priests and magicians who worked with this sacred animal.

It has been a symbol of creation, wisdom and fertility since prehistory. The earliest reference to the bird comes from Ancient Egypt around 2350 BC.

Ibis arm tattoo
Ibis arm tattoo @ crucibletattooco

So what’s the meaning behind Ibis tattoos?

mystery, wisdom and magic

The connection to the moon dates back to Ancient Egypt. The ibis appears on the heads of Egyptian gods, e.g. Thot/Thoth or Khonsu. The bird was believed to be a lunar being by other civilizations in Mesopotamia, India and Malaysia too. This might be behind an Ibis tattoo’s meaning of mystery, wisdom and magic.

justice or judgment

The ibis is a bird of the night who makes its nest on the water’s edge and feeds at dusk on small black seeds and small fish. It was believed to eat the souls of sinners and this might be behind an Ibis tattoo’s meaning of justice or judgment (or blackness, darkness).

protection and fertility

Ibis tattoos were believed to bring protection and fertility. The Egyptians used ibis eggs for funerary rites. They put these eggs under the deceased’s pillow in their tomb to help them cross the River Nile safely into the afterlife (check out Horus, Anubis or Osiris). So this might be behind an Ibis tattoo’s meaning of protection and fertility.

Ibis tattoo placements

The ibis is a large bird and can be very beautiful. It has a long, curved beak and white feathers (that turn black when wet). The Egyptian god Thot/Thoth was often depicted as an ibis or with the head of an ibis.

This could give you inspiration for an Ibis tattoo’s placement because it can be put on the back of the neck, upper arm or whole chest/back.

Ibis ancle tattoo
Ibis ancle tattoo @ deathspi_tattoo

Ibis tattoos can be pretty cool (even for girls). For instance, they could be put on sleeves or whole backs. I think this one looks especially good at black and grey level. It has got earrings too which is a nice detail for this kind of tattoo.

birds are very popular tattoos, especially when they are done in black and grey or realistic styles. So if you love birds, check out this list of smaller ones .

Ibis tattoos look cool on the upper arm too where some lines can be added to give them some depth. I like how the wings are wrapped around the person’s arm here.

Ibis egyptian tattoo
Ibis egyptian tattoo @ nagan.tattoo.raqs