Criminal tattoos and tattoos
It should be remembered that each pectoral drawing has its own meaning, and before deciding to apply this or that image to the chest, back, shoulder or other part of your own body, you need to find out what semantic load it carries.
In ancient times, a tattoo served not only as a decorative element, but also as a means of disclosing certain information about a person: his social and marital status, personal qualities, military exploits and victories. Currently, many tattoos perform only a decorative function. However, there are those who have retained their information content, such tattoos are characteristic mainly for the criminal world.
Thieves’ tattoos appeared several centuries ago and, according to some scholars, were a continuation of the ancient hallmarks that designated prisoners. Over time, the tradition of stigmatization has gone into oblivion, however, representatives of the criminal world themselves have begun to widely practice the application of symbolic images to the body, indicating their belonging to the criminal environment.
Prison Finger Rings
Thieves’ stars on the collarbone
Thieves’ lap rides
Criminal taunts epaulettes and epaulets
The development of thieves’ tattoos occurred identically in different countries. And today, the tattoo acts as a kind of symbolic language that facilitates the “communication” of prisoners of different nationalities. However, only the initiates can speak the language of tattooed symbols.
Images distributed in a criminal environment can fully disclose information about a person: tell about his position in the criminal world, crimes committed and their number, places of punishment, inclinations. Sometimes a tattoo becomes the only document of a person in prison. Sometimes wearable images are used by prisoners as symbolic messages: in this case, encryption drawings are applied to the courier’s body, the meaning of which should be clear to the person to whom the message is addressed.
It should be noted that the language of tattoos of the criminal world has undergone significant changes over the entire period of its existence: there has been a complication of wearable images, while the meaning of each of them has changed.
The meanings of prison tattoos
In Russia, another (and rather successful) attempt to classify thieves’ tattoos was made at the end of the 20th century by scientists who spent many years in the Stalinist camps, where the acquaintance of researchers with the underworld happened. Significant assistance in the description and classification of underbody images of criminals was provided by correctional workers, investigators and forensic scientists. Largely thanks to their work, the values of the most common tattoos in the criminal environment are known today (More than 800 photos of prisoners with tattoos deciphering them).
By the mid-1950s, basic rules had been formed and a style for performing thieves’ tattoos was developed. However, the right to wear a certain pattern had to be earned, following the unwritten traditions that existed in the zone, the violation of which was strictly punished. However, sometimes representatives of the criminal world applied images to the body that did not correspond to their status in the criminal environment. Such a deception of fellow inmates was strictly punished, and in order to exclude the possibility of such a situation, the masters of the thieves’ tattoos supplemented their work with some elements testifying to the authenticity of the pectoral drawing.
What tattoos are stuffed on the zone
It must be said that in the criminal world, along with purely informative, there are informative and decorative tattoos. These include landscape and portrait tattoos, battle scenes, historical subjects, and copies from paintings by famous painters. Such images were allowed to adorn their bodies to all, without exception, representatives of the criminal world.
In the art of body painting of the underworld, simple symbols are used that are known to many – these are flowers, animals, mythical images, weapons, playing cards and their suits. Often, inscriptions act as body jewelry: quotes and sayings in various languages - Russian, English, German or Latin. Of particular interest are images in which the inscriptions are combined with allegorical symbols and complemented by interesting elements that are fiction of a talented master.
In the Soviet period, thieves’ tattoos, which are caricatures of leaders, as well as drawings in which Nazi and religious symbols were present next to the Soviet one, were especially popular. As a rule, such tattoos were not an expression of protest against the existing political system, but only testified to a person’s unwillingness to cooperate with the authorities.
Where to get prison tattoos
The significance of a thieves’ tattoo largely depends on its location. Most often, drawings are applied to the chest (see Tattoos on the chest) – images of naked girls, carnivores, saints, crucifixes (see Religious tattoos), Christian churches.