Cobra Tattoos: Symbols of the Afterlife

The ultimate symbol of the Afterlife, this particular snake was so important to the Ancient Egyptians that the Pharaoh Tutankhamun was even buried with one…

Cobra is a word of Portuguese origin which actually means “hood”. In fact, the cobra is known as the “hooded snake” and this has always given it a disquieting appearance while at the same time, regal and majestic. Simply unique.

Jondix, Seven Doors Tattoo, London, UK
Jondix, Seven Doors Tattoo, London, UK

But let’s take a step back in time. In Ancient Egypt snakes were seen as ambivalent creatures, not entirely to be trusted. They stood for both good (represented, for example, by the snake Ureaeus) as well as evil (in the figure of the Apophis, enemy of the sun).

Uraeus was also a cobra and symbolised royalty and the earthly manifestation of Wadjet, tutelary goddess of Lower Egypt.

Ureaeus was protector of two figures in particular – the sun and the pharaoh – armed with his fiery breath. Its importance was such that the Pharaoh Senusret II wanted it always with him and had a sculpted cobra decorate his royal crown.

Jelle Soos, Black Garden Tattoo, London, UK
Jelle Soos, Black Garden Tattoo, London, UK

This artifact, just seven centimetres tall, was created by the craftsmen of the time using gold, lapis lazuli and semi-precious stones and remains one of the masterpieces of Egyptian art.

The cobra was also seen in Egypt a a sort of eternal link with the Afterlife. That is why a cobra was buried alive, together with the well-known eye of Horus, in the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings. It was the Pharaoh himself, so the historians say, who requested it before he died.

Adam Hathorn, Big Trouble Tattoo, San Diego, USA
Adam Hathorn, Big Trouble Tattoo, San Diego, USA

The sacred aspect of the cobra was also revered among Hindus who regarded the presence of this creature in their homes as a sign of good luck. Nobody was alarmed at the sight of a cobra, but were actually cheered by the fact they has come across a symbol of imminent good fortune. Today, it would be precisely the contrary!

At the same time, even Christians, as can be seen in the Old Testament, saw the cobra as a positive element seeing as that was what Aaron’s staff turned into to frighten the Pharaoh.

Enjoy our gallery of tattoo inspired by this singular and charismatic serpent…

James McKenna, Foothills Electric Tattoo, Perth, Australia Jean Le Roux, Black Garden Tattoo, London, UK Denis Elice, The Saint Mariner, Milan, Italy Toni Donaire, Private Tattoo Studio, Barcelona, Spain Samuele Briganti, Bold Will Hold, Firenze, Italy Mirko Colli, On The Road, Follonica, Italy Cal Jenx, The Workhouse Tattoo, Sheffield, UK Valerie Vargas, Modern Classic Tattoo, London, UK Grime, Skull & Sword, San Francisco, USA Becca Genné-Bacon, Kings Avenue Tattoo, New York, USA

The post Cobra Tattoos: Symbols of the Afterlife appeared first on Tattoo Life.

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