Little birds on the two sides of the head,  three vertical green lines down the chin, legendary figures on the arms, and little green crosses on the wrists. Tattoos remain a very vivid element of intangible heritage in Egypt.

Found in many prehistoric civilizations, evidence of Tattoo body-art was found in Egypt around 4000 B.C. Evidence of Tattoo symbols was found on ancient Egyptian mummies, and on clay dolls respectively. Using fine fish bones, ancient Egyptians drew symbols of their deities and from nature on their bodies.

Locally known as Al-Daa, (Poking) tattoos, which are permanent marks or designs on human skin, especially on the hands, arms, cheek, lower lips and chins. Ranging between blue, green and black, its function was to denote a tribe and a specific social status that a person belongs to.

Often used as a pain therapy, tattoo was quite popular among Egyptians, especially in relieving headaches, hand and finger pains. Ancient Egyptians used it as part of their spiritual rituals and also as a form of body/beauty art. During the Christian era, the tattoos became more of religious symbols especially Saint George. During Islamic era, the tattoo became more abstract, and geometrical shapes along with shapes of stars and crescents started to appear.   During the French expedition, it remained quite popular among the lower classes who used it as a form of accessories for they could not afford jewellery.   It was also used as a record of a mile stone in someone’s life such as getting married, or performed a pilgrimage. Women in Upper Egypt still mark their lower lips with fine green tattoo lines as a sign of beauty, exactly like the ancient Egyptians.

Nowadays the tattoo art is quite popular among youth and is not limited to a specific social class. It became a trend. However, the classic tattoo artists with models of their tattoos on display, are still found in Mulids, and weekly markets in villages and some urban markets such as Al-Giza market.

Elaborative drawings in Folk art, and the Human element in the folk belief, by Sawsan Amer
The folk literature of the south, by Mohamed Ahmed Aloqeily
Tattoo in pre-historic Egypt , by Zeinab Abdel Tawab