Ankh tattoos usually symbolize life or rebirth. In ancient Egypt, the ankh represented eternal life, rebirth and possibly the union of male and female. Today, some people use the ankh as a symbol of strength, health or wisdom. The ankh imparts enough meaning as an Egyptian symbol to stand alone as a tattoo, but it sometimes is combined with other symbols to create a more-personal message.
An ankh is popular in tattoo designs because of its connections to ancient culture, life and the afterlife, as well as its religious connotations. The ankh is one of the most well-known of the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. It resembles a cross with a loop at the top, like an upside down teardrop. This combination may represent air and water or possibly the sun on the horizon.
Egyptian art often shows the ankh being held by gods, who use it to bestow eternal life on pharaohs and members of the royal family, sometimes holding it to the nose of the deceased to provide the breath of eternal life. In some tomb paintings, the recently deceased holds the ankh by the loop like a key. The popularity of ankhs in ancient Egypt is evident from the number of everyday objects they had in the shape of ankhs, including a mirror found in King Tut's tomb.