Table 1

Meanings of Common Tattoos

Lotus flower64VariableEnlightenment, rising from amidst hardships
SemicolonCommonly, the wristCommitment to life, fighting against depression and suicidal ideation
Triquetra/Trinity knotVariableConnectedness with the elements around us: earth, sea and sky. Can also mean eternity or connectedness with God.
“Om” (sacred syllable)65VariableHindu religion: God or universe; For some, peace, good karma, tranquility
A waveVariableStrength, fighting against fate
Anchor66VariableHope, salvation, and eternity
Cobweb (black and white)67Commonly, the elbowLong prison sentences
Tear drop68Underneath eyeFilled in tear: committed murder; if only outline: attempted murder
Five-point crown69,70VariableLatin Kings gang (Hispanic gang originally based in Chicago)
Three dotsLateral to eye corner or on hands“mi vida loca (my crazy life)” and “Los Vatos Locos (The Crazy Dudes)”; associated with the gang lifestyle
Five dots71Outer surface of hand, between thumb and index fingerTime spent in prison
MS-1372Visible areas: face, hand, neckMara Salvatrucha gang
Cards (playing cards)VariableAssociation with gambling, such as gambling with life, popular in Russian prisons
ACABKnucklesWillingness to go to prison for one's gang; “all cops are bastards”
Three dotsBetween thumb and index fingerDeath to police
Question markSecond phalanx of ring fingerBisexuality
Four dotsOn one finger of either handLesbian orientation
Watch with no minute handsHandsDoing time in prison
StarsShoulderRank in gang
StarsKnees“The bearer will bow down to no man.”
CrossChestHighest rank in Russian gang
EWMNVariable, commonly knuckles“Evil, wicked, mean, nasty”;animosity to authority and police
Black hand with “M” in the middleVariableMexican Mafia, North and South
Dragons and Japanese flowersTattoo encompassing large areas of the body in the shape of armor suitsYazuka body suits, associated with Polynesian tradition
“Tongan Crisps” with hands underneath the wordsVariableTongan Crisps Polynesian gang
Swastika with 14VariableWhite supremacists and Nazi lowriders
Pyramid with a center eye73VariableDead Man incorporated, in support of the Illuminati or New World Order against religion and government