Posts Tagged ‘Russian mafia tattoos’

Gang tattoos III

Written by Rocky Geneva on . Posted in blog

Russian mafia

Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises (2007)

The most popular display of Russian Mafia Tattoos in a mainstream movie production would have to be on the body of Viggo Mortensen’s character in the David Cronenberg award winning film Eastern Promises.  Cronenberg made it a point to place detailed attention on the symbolism and importance of the tattoos that prisoners and mafia members acquired

The Russian Mafia has been around as long as the Soviet Union has been dismembered, some even argue before it’s demise.  Supposedly one of the most powerful criminal organizations in modern history, the Russian Mafia has always been based on a strict code of dignity, respect, and honor.

The history of Russian Mafia Tattoos date back to the  notorious Russian prison camp system, known as the Soviet gulag. It was during this collapse that a new breed of professional criminals were spawned, fueled by a hybrid sense of dignity, tradition and desperation, as their communist empire fell.

Russian criminal tattoos have a complex system of symbols which can give quite detailed information about the wearer. Not only do the symbols carry meaning but the area of the body on which they are placed may be meaningful too.

Wearing false or unearned tattoos is punishable in the criminal underworld. Tattoos can be voluntarily removed (for loss of rank, new affiliation, “life style” change, etc.) by bandaging magnesium powder onto the surface of the skin, which dissolves the skin bearing the marks with painful caustic burns.

To the naked eye, one look at the tattoos of the Russian Mafia and they appear to be nothing more than cathedrals, portraits, crosses, stars and spider webs. It’s hard to be absolutely sure of the exact translation that some of these tattoos contain, as I’m sure things have been manipulated and adjusted throughout history.


Here are some of the criminal tattoo symbols used in the Russian underworld:

  • Cathedral, church of monastery – Usually on the chest, shoulder, or back.  Depending on the number of steeples or towers are shown on the tattoo, it translates to the number of years, or number times an individual has been incarcerated. It’s common to find the phrase “The church is the house of God” written beneath the cathedral – which is usually translated to “Prison is the home of the Thief”.
  • Stars – If there are star tattoos on the shoulders, it typically symbolizes a individuals dignity and honor and that he lives by a certain code and tradition.  Star tattoos on the knee caps are usually given once a member has become promoted to Captain status, and it symbolizes that the owner of the tattoo will never be brought to his knees.
  • Pirate tattoo – This means that the owner has committed armed robbery, or article 167 of the Russian Criminal Code.
  • Cobweb – Usually found on the shoulder.  Thought this tattoo has become popular amongst suburban rebels and movie stars, in the Russian Prison system it stands for drug addiction.
  • Barbed wire – Tattooed across the forehead signifies a sentence of life imprisonment without possibility of parole.
  • Madonna and baby Jesus – Indicates the person has been a thief since childhood.
  • 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.
  • Rose (white-dried) – Death is preferable to loss of virtue. Also the initiation tattoo of a new gang member is usually placed on the chest and may incorporate a rose this is also used within the Russian Mafia and other Russian gangs.

Tattoo removal

Written by Rocky Geneva on . Posted in blog

  Tattoo removal has been performed with various tools during the history of tattooing. While tattoos were once considered permanent, it is now possible to remove them with treatments, fully or partially. The expense and pain of removing tattoos will typically be far, far greater than the expense and pain of applying them.

Tattoo removal is often taken into consideration by those who regret their tattoos or have had a severe reaction to the pigment. Well, tattoos are meant to be permanent, so removing them is difficult, just a few surgeons guarantee complete removal. Doctors say they can’t predict the exact degree of removal because they generally don’t know which tattoo inks available today were used.

There are a lot of reasons for possibly wanting a tattoo removed, like holding you back from getting a job you desire and even a gang-related tattoo that are no longer associated with, or any gang. Tattoos that symbolizes hate or prejudice, and it’s time to let go and get it removed. If you are wearing a tattoo of a past love and now you have a new special person in your life, a little pain and scarring may be worth it to you and that special someone. Also it would be in your best interests to have it removed if the tattoo you’re wearing is a low quality one and you are not considering a cover-up, or that is not a possible option.

If you have a tattoo that you wish to have partially or completely removed, you should first consider your options and decide which method would be best for you.

Laser Removal
Lasers are the most common method of tattoo removal. They work by targeting the ink with pulses of highly concentrated light that break the ink into tiny fragments, which are then cleared away the your own immune system. Depending on your tattoo, you may need anywhere from 1-10 sessions, each costing in the range of $250-$850 per session. The more treatments you have, the more the laser can penetrate to destroy the ink. But, the more treatments you have, the more damage you do to your skin, causing painful blisters and scabs that can eventually lead to scarring. Laser tattoo removal can be uncomfortable but is very tolerable in most cases. The pain is often described to be similar to that of hot oil on the skin, or a ‘slap’ from an elastic band. This technology has advanced to the point where scarring is minimal, sometimes non-existant, but this can vary.

Intense Pulsed Light Therapy
Intense Pulsed Light Therapy, or IPL, is a dermal enhancer currently being used in some spas. Instead of laser light, it uses high intensity light in pretty much the same manner. The pigment is broken up by the body and absorbed during healing after the treatment. The areas further away from your heart take the longest to clear. This method is said to be less painful and more effective than traditional laser therapy, but there are many tattoo removal experts who do not recommend IPL. As a result of this process, there may be some scarring involved. In many cases white or darker cells are left behind and create blotches in the skin. However, in many instances, these blotches also fade with time. Depending on how many pulses per session your tattoo requires, this could add up to a significant amount of money.

Cream Removals
In this case it takes several months to get the desired results. It isn’t inexpensive by any means, but certainly a lot more affordable than laser surgery. It seems that if you’re looking for a partial fade so that you can cover up your tattoo more effectively, these products may work to an extent. But keep in mind that these abrasive chemicals can also leave scarring behind during the process, making it more difficult to tattoo over.

Fading with Saline
Some tattoo artists can fade a tattoo by “tattooing” (not injecting) saline solution into the area where the old ink resides. This is most effective with older tattoos, and is not a reliable method for tattoo removal. However, sometimes this can be done to fade a tattoo and make it easier to cover it up with a new tattoo.

Salibrasion and Dermabrasion
Salibrasion is a very old method of abrasion where your tattoo is literally rubbed with salt. In dermabrasion, the treatment is to actually “sand” away the top layer of skin through abrasive friction. This procedures are performed under local anesthetic.

This tattoo removal procedure implies your tattoo being cut out of your skin and the wound is sutured. It is relatively simple and has a mild recovery phase. The main downside is the scaring, but involves immediate results and relative lack of expense. Also may cause difficulty when dealing with a big tattooed piece.

Tattoo Removal Recovery 
Your recovery varies based on the type of tattoo removal procedure you choose. You may feel as though your skin has a windburn or sunburn or that your skin feels tight. It is important to stay out of the sun while you are healing from tattoo removal. Wear a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or higher.

Tattoo Removal Risks
Tattoo removal risks vary by treatment, but in general they may include:

  • Skin discoloration at the treatment site
  • Infection
  • Incomplete pigment removal
  • Scarring
  • Raised, thickened scars, which may appear three to six months down the road
  • Tattoo removal regret
For those of you who consider getting tattooed, as well as getting a tattoo removed, take as much time as you need for research and always think twice before taking a decision.
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