Awesome?: Tattoo’s Part 1

Occasionally I will have a two parter entry. It will be in two parts because the subject has an element that is both awesome and bollocks.

One of these rare subjects are that of Tattoo’s.

Some tattoo’s can be fantastic. Some are so funny and/or so beautifully well done you have to stop, stare and envy the person who will carry this fantastic ink for the rest of their lives. Of course these tattoo’s are rare and I’ll cover the bad tattoo’s in my next post but for now lets look at the awesome side .

What makes a great tattoo? Hard to say. I myself have no tattoo’s and at the moment have no plans for any so I’ll be the first to admit I’m hardly an authoritative figureĀ  when it comes to this subject. It seems to me the key to a successful tattoo is as follows…

The worst tattoo ever might just be the best.

One talented artist + an original idea (how many fucking butterflies have I seen!) + an appropriate location (depends on the design and size) = A tattoo you wont hate when your old and grey.

Tattoo artists are rarely given the praise they deserve. Many people see tattoo as a modern fad that goes to show how corrupt our youth are. This couldn’t really be further from the truth as the art of tattooing has been dated back to 3300 BC. The confidence a tattoo artist must have in their skill to risk scarring someone for life is amazing. You can rub out a sketch on paper, but you only get one chance on skin.

Tattoo’s can also have very deep meanings. Prison tattoo’s often tell the life story of the one who bares them. This is especially the case with eastern gangs, from the Russian Mafia, Yakuza and Triads.

  • Barbed Wire tattooed across the forehead signifies a sentence of life imprisonment without possibility of parole.
  • Birds over horizon: “I was born free and should be free”
  • Cat: a career as thief. A single cat means the bearer worked alone; several cats mean the bearer was part of a gang.
  • Churches, fortresses, etc. are often tattooed on the chest, back, or hand. The number of spires or towers can represent the years a prisoner has been incarcerated, or number of times he has been imprisoned. The phrase, “The Church is the House of God,” often inscribed beneath a cathedral, has the metaphorical meaning, “Prison is the Home of the Thief.”
  • Madonna and baby Jesus indicates the person has been a thief since childhood.
  • Dagger: sex offender
  • Executioner: Murderer
  • Rose (white-dried): Death is preferable to loss of virtue.[5]
  • Spider or spider web: may symbolize racism or doing time in prison[6]
  • Spider Web: Worn on left elbow and symbolizes that the wearer is a predator and highly dangerous, spiders are associated with hunters, they wait patiently for they prey trap it and then kill it. Also may symbolizes that the wearer has killed before or is willing to. Wearer has to be high rank to be allowed to wear this tattoo.
  • Tombstones represent the loss of time. You may see the number of years that are served (i.e. 5 tombstones reading 2001 – 2005 means the prisoner has done 5 years).
  • SS: two sig runes were the symbol of the Schutzstaffel, Nazi insignia
  • Stars: Worn on the knees: signifies that the owner will kneel before no man, or no one.
  • Stars: Worn on the shoulders:Signifies that the owner is a man of discipline, status, and tradition. Men will also receive stars when promoted to “Captain”.
  • Skulls: Signifies murder, if the murder was significant enough to merit the tattoo. Military insignia and uniform epaulets are worn on the shoulders. This symbolizes criminal accomplishments. When a Skull symbol is portrayed with it, it usually designates a man as a murderer. Epaulets are decorated with certain crests and symbols in the sections where one can see the Skull there prior to conviction, especially when it was of any significance.
  • Swastika: Symbol of defiance to authority.

Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises. A film about the Russian Mafia.

Have you seen a great tattoo?

Feel free to tell me about it in the comments.


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