Like any elite club, gangs too have affiliations and membership, but in a more permanent way – tattoos. Gang tattoos mark a person as part of a prison or street gang, symbolizing the wearer’s personal history, skills, accomplishments, beliefs, or a mode of personal expression. Every gang has its own set of tattoos and each tattoo has a different underlying, often complex, meaning to it.
Gangster tattoos symbolize the deepest form of an individual’s commitment to a gang – by getting permanently marked on the body itself. Initially tattoos were used as a stigmatizing mark to brand criminals & outlaws of the society; but many have embraced it as a symbol of pride rather than shame by brandishing themselves as individuals beyond the grasp of conventional society.
Nowadays, the culture of gangster tattoos has been made famous by celebrities, especially rappers and music bands, whose fans blindly ink the tattoos on themselves without a clue to the real meaning of the tattoo. A star tattoo may look cool but it means years spent in prison. Similarly, barbed wire tattoos mean a sentence of life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Hence, a word of caution to all tattoo aficionados: know the meaning of the tattoo before branding yourself with it.
Image courtesy Odd Stuff Magazine