Aug 3, 2008

Tattoo Education: The Three Dot Tattoo


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There are different types of three dot tattoos. I have one on my left hand that was done in my teenage years. Mine are three tiny dots in a straight line. But today's post, we'll look at a certain three dot tattoo. This three dot tattoo has been linked to Cuban and Russian mafia, freemasonry and even sailors.

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This tattoo consists of three dots in a triangle. Like mine, it is usually found between the thumb and forefinger. It is a popular tattoo among prisoners in Germany. To these convicts, this tattoo is a symbol to their time served behind bars. So, if you are in Germany and you see someone with this tattoo, it'll likely mean that he has spent a considerable amount of time behind bars.

To the Freemasons, the three dots tattoo is a symbol from the undersociety "Niq" which stems from freemasonry. Instead of the dots being between the thumb and the forefinger, the "Nig" tattoo is done on the middle knuckle.

As mentioned at the start of this post, this tattoo is a "must have" for many middle and high ranking members in the Cuban and Russian mafia. The tattoo is used as an identification symbol. Each three dot tattoo is accompanied by the initials of the person. The initials of the person is usually tattooed next to the three dots.

In parts of France, the dots stand for 'Mort Aux Vaches'. When translated, it means 'Death to cows'. What that really means is 'Death to cops'. Shocking ain't it?!

The hobos and sailors look upon the tattoo as a protective symbol. It is a tradition for sailors to get this tattoo on their firsr voyage. It's an easy tattoo to do with a needle and ink and it can be done on board the ship by anyone. Among the Danish sailors, this tattoo is often thought to mean "faith, hope and love".

The three dot tattoo is known as "Görmem, Duymam, Söylemem" in Turkey. It means, "I hear nothing, I see nothing and I tell nothing". Having this tattoo in Turkey means a person has taken an oath to a certain society. He has to be willing to sacifice himself in favour of the society.

This tattoo has to be the most common tattoo used among gangs throughout the world. Besides the Cuban and Russian mafia, the Hispanic and Asian gangs have used this tattoo for years.

I hope you've enjoyed this edition of Tattoo Education. Look out for the next one two Sundays from now.

40 comments:

  1. Am i allowed to ask for the significance behind the 3 dots on you?

    -Munster

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  2. Hmm...I was a teenager that mixed around with the wrong bunch of people. But I became street smart. That's something school and the army doesn't teach me.

    Oh well, that part of my life is in the past. =)

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    1. Hey! Im a few years late here, don't know if u still run this blog. Anyway, in Sweden, this tattoo is common in the army and it means "We Want to Wander" (Free spirit etc.) same as in Denmark (almost anyway). My grandfather got one when he was in the army 1950's, and now that he is really sick from cancer, we (his grandkids) have got these too, to honor him, the swedish tradition and a free lifestyle, a free country.

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    2. In Sweden this actually is a sign from the army :) It meant "We Want to Wander" (free spirit etc.), kind of the same as the Danish and the Latin meaning, that you are a free spirit.
      It was really common in the 1940's and 1950's in the Swedish military, alot of older gentlemen have it. Me and my siblings and cousins have this tattoo, to honor our grandfather who is the coolest and has one.

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  3. it also means "tres puntos" wich in english means three points, tres puntos is a mexican/chicano gang that started in california, and spreads as far as chicago, formerly very organized, but it was taken over in 1999 by MS-13, and now the tattoo represents that gang, the three dots(points) show where the gang leads you, 1.the grave 2.the hosital 3.prison.

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    1. What you wrote is laughable...you are definitely NOT from Los Angeles and NOT Mexican.

      There is NO "Tres Puntos" gang

      MS13 did NOT take "Tres Puntos" over, as "Tres Puntos" never existed...EVER.

      MS13 was founded in my city of Los Angeles, it was formed as a Salvadorian group of close friends that banded together against the hardcore Mexican gangs in their area.

      MS13 was originally hardcore metal heads, long hair, leather jackets, tshirts, etc... it evolved into what it is today and ha the 13 at the end of their name to show allegiance to the Mexican Mafia in prison.

      WHITE KIDS, STOP POSTING SHIT YOU READ ON THE NET...you just make yourselves looks extremely STUPID!

      -Laughing Angeleno

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  4. that shit means sex drugs n parting

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  5. in our country. 3 dots ...3 years in prison

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  6. it means whatever you want to mean i asked some people that have it and they told me that it means women drugs and prison thewomen will make you use drugs and eventually the drugs will get you in prison another one told me that it means hear,watch,shut-up! 1 thing is for shure all of them that told me about this tatoo and have it on their hand have been in prison!

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  7. I was told by my husband that it means birth, life, & death. I think I like that meaning more than any others I read here. All his friends and family tie three knots in the front and back of their scapularios to represent the tres puntos, and they tie them like that for their kids...

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  8. Hi Sheena, which part of the world are you from?

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  9. It also means my crazy life I got mine when I was 13 and in juvi but it does mean a lot of stuff but mainly around here its my crazy life

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  10. Thanks for the article!! I have always wondered about these dot tattoo's but felt too dumb to ask! haha
    http://showusyourskin.com/

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  11. Sorry for the late reply. Somehow I missed out on your comment. Thanks for the info. Didn't know it meant that as well. I guess different cultures would have different meanings.

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  12. You're welcome Hailey.
    ps: ShowUsYourSkin totally rocks!

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  13. yea...my brother-in-law has this tatoo and i didnt want to ask him because it dosnt look like something that you would get on a whim you no? it looks like it was definately put there for a purpose...but after reading this i want to ask him about it even less :P

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  14. Oh wow! I guess some things are better left as it is. He'll probably tell you someday. If you don't mind me asking, what's his race?

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  15. Anyone knows what the 3 dots tattoo means in greece?

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  16. I'm glad you asked Anonymous...In Greece, if the 3 dots form a triangle, it signifies affiliation with anarchist beliefs or ideals.

    However if it's a five dot tattoo, resembling the dots on a dice, placed on the hand between index finger and thumb, these tattoos will be found on prison inmates. The tattoo represents the individual between the four walls of the prison cell. The dot in the center represents him or her.

    Found the last bit on Wikipedia...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Dots_Tattoo

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  17. I got 3dots on my elbow. To me it stands for my crazy life.but I've known azn gang members who said it stands for Me and My Homies.

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  18. Instead of tatooing the three dots...

    Three burn marks in a triangle. The same place, but only for the high secret members of some organizations... Always in the left hand...

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  19. I just got this tattoo in red indian ink done on the left side of my chest. I heard somewhere that it means Live Learn & Love. I have Italian and British background but I've been raised in Canada. (so you know where my origins bring this from)
    Over all, I believe this tattoo can be very gangrelated, or any 3 stage process can be represented by it.

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  20. It means MI VIDA LOCA which in english is mt crazy life. That was my first tattoo i got it at age 13.

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  21. Joker: On your elbow? That's a first buddy. But I understand the crazy life bit. Thanks for leaving a comment.

    Alex: Burn marks? Do you mean scarification?

    Anonymous: Cool man...Where did you get this tattoo? On your hand like in the image in this post?

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  22. Anonymous (the red indian ink): Sorry I missed out your comment. Cool you got some red Indian style ink done. Always been a fan of that style of art. The LLL sounds good enough for me. I think we all need to practise that at sometime in our life.

    The most important thing here is what it represents to you. LLL is the way to go!

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  23. 3 dot tattoo is for scraps it means la vida loca my crazy life a 4 dot tattoo n the shape of a square is meant for nortenos north sides n Cali I have this over a cross tattoo meaning my crazy white life n the cross under means under gods protection can also b used with 3 dot tattoo

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  24. Very Interesting Noel, as you people say, "You hit the nail on the head" I my self am from Kiev, and spent a few years at "Black Dolphine" for some thefts and other stuff, it was there I recieved my three dots tattoo, but gang land tattoos in Russia and indeede eastern europe are becoming a thing of the past as most young types get these tattoos for nothing and thus it has became meaningless. Having said that, anyone caught with a tattoo they dont desearve or have thre right to have usually has it removed by forse, but if it is a serious tattoo, you could even be killed for the insult. I was very interested in see that the Latinos wear these two, as well as Germans and French as I was unaware of this, thank you for informing me of this.

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  25. Can you tell me what the three dots are that is on the hands of alot of Indian women. Some has one big dot and two little ones.

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  26. Fuck that trece puto bullshit four dots on my hand northern organized raza till eternity

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  27. I was looking for an explanation for the three dot tattoo and found this helpful. My parents have this tattoo, but refused to tell me what it means. They are from Brazil and got it in the late 70s or early 80s. One day I overheard my father say that it's a symbol for a secret organization, that peaked my curiosity even more!!!!

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  28. Got them 3 dots as to indecate Mi vida loca, Proud to be a hispanic And to repressent southside, though i'm not a gangbanger, but my dad was a southsider, and then my sister got her 3 dots too and her bf is a southsider, well they dont bang they just backup southside, same as me. I'm not scared to represent what i am, but i am worried that i have court and they might see the 3 dots and probly they will make a huqe deal out of it, and im an illegal emegrent, same with my mom and sis n bf, and im scared they might want to report me or somthing, i dont wanna get send back to mah hometown, i mean i do, but sence mah dad fucked up, and ran away from same narcos, if those narcos find out that us , his family is back in town they will try to kill us.

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  29. Three dots tattoo on the right arm also symbol of international fraternity called Alpha Phi Omega.

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  30. I also have that tattoo I am I black African American female for me it means mi vida loco I've had it since I was 13 but I am a blood now that crazy

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  31. under the eye means death to cops i kno that

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  32. Yeah I grew up in Juarez Mexico & a lot of gang members I knew had the same three dots tattooed on there left hand, some said it stood for time in prison. But I had an older sister and she later on tattooed it on herself and said it meant "La Vida Loca"
    My Crazy Life.

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  33. Fuck 3puntos purro SURX3
    and S.V.K. 6

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  34. My late fiancé had it on the web of his hand- in a triangle form. He got it when he went down for 36 months at 18 (b4 Imet him). He was 26 when we did meet and he hated it! He used to try to sand it off with sandpaper! I'm a longtime artist so he bought me a gun & ink and I turned it into a skull with a candle on top for him. Now that he's gone, I want to know more about why he hated it so much...of course it's too late to ask so...thank you all for the definitions. I tend to think with Joe it was Peckerwood-related.

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  35. I see the three dot tattoo used a lot in India, I'm not sure what it means there though.

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