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Gang and Mafia Tattoos From Around the World

on Ноември 13th 2012, 22:47
There are hundreds of criminal gangs around the world. To be part of these gangs is to be part of a sacred institution. Some gangs have specific colors like the Crips and Bloods of Los Angeles, California. However one thing that seems to be a constant amongst all gangs is the use of the tattoo as a means of identity.
Below we look at a selection of tattoos of the various different gangs with a brief description and history


The Japanese Yakuza is one of the most notorious gangs in the world.
Integral to the membership of the yakuza fraternity is the Irezumi which basically means tattoo. The tattoo is a display of pride and the Yakuza will often take off their shirts when playing the game of Oicho-Kabu in order to reveal full upper body tattoos. New members are generally required to expose their lower body tattoos as well.

Tiger - Japanese Yakuza

The Tiger is synonymous with power and whilst there are no tigers native to the country, the Japanese were very familiar with tiger skins.

Lotus Japanese Yakuza

The Lotus is particularly symbolic to the Japanese and it signifies the meaning of life. Reflecting the importance of this flower to Buddhism, it’s a common Yakuza tattoo.

Demon - Japanese Yakuza

The demon tattoo can depict good or evil, but in many cases relating to the Yakuza, it is used to ward off enemies or rivals.

Chinese Triads
The triads relate to a number of widespread Chinese criminal organizations around the world. They are a well organized global network and there are now more members abroad than there is in China.

DragonChinese Triad

This tattoo relates to the yang in the ‘ying and yang’ partnership and means the dark side. Although the dragon is an aggressive creature, to the Triads it symbolizes good luck. More importantly it stands for power which is one of the main priorities of a Triad member.

Phoenix - Chinese Triad

The other side of the ying yang partnership, The Phoenix is the ying which means ‘light’. The symbolic mythical bird which rises out of the ashes is a positive feature in Chinese culture.

Russian Mafia

The mafia is present in just about every aspect of Russian society. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, criminal gangs have spread and most adopt the generic name of mafia. Gangs in Russian are generally known as Bratva which translates to ‘brotherhood’
The gangs will show their allegiance to their group in the form of various body tattoos which are blue in appearance due to the particular type of dye used.

SkullRussian Mafia

This tattoo signifies a murderer and is almost exclusively seen in prison. It’s often adorned with epaulets and other patterns.

Cathedral/Church - Russian Mafia

These are usually found on the back, chest or shoulder and depict how many times the gang member has been in prison.

Aryan Brotherhood

Ayran Nation is a principally racist outfit which prides itself on white power. The Aryan Brotherhood was founded in 1967 in the San Quentin State Prison in California. They were formed as a response to the increasing number of minorities entering the prison.

The larger the tattoo, the more devotion shown to the group. The spider web on the upper arm is also used by members of the Russian mafia and usually indicates time spent in jail.

The CripsFear No Man

The Crips are one of the most notorious street gangs in North America. They were formed in the 1960’s by Raymond Washington who was only fifteen at the time.It was founded in order to counteract the escalating police harassment of black people in the community at that time. The name Crips is said to relate to Washington’s side kick who walked with a limp. After having shot a rival, the victim of the shooting when asked said he was shot by a ‘crip’. The gang were known as such from then on. The color blue was typically associated with this particular gang.

The ‘Fear No Man’ tattoo speaks for itself and is a symbol of superiority amongst their peers, namely their rivals the ‘Bloods’.

The Bloods - Red Stars

The Bloods are a gang from Los Angeles which were formed in order to compete with the Crips. After internal warfare amongst the Crips, one faction the‘Pirus Street gang’ broke away. They subsequently formed with other gangs and amalgamated to eventually be known as the Bloods. The Bloods were intially outnumbered by the Crips and became significantly more violent to compensate. They adopt red as their gang color.

Fierce rivals of the Crips, the Bloods are often seen with red star tattoos.
This article gives us an insight into how various members of gangs are loyal to their causes and wear their uniforms with pride! Much like many other organizations, the tattoo is paramount to their identity.

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