Anyone who has a tattoo is sure to have heard the expression: Is tattooing a thing for armchair users? Or he saw some badly done tattoo and called it a prisoner thing.

This is because, before being considered art, tattoos were and are widely used to identify tribes, peoples, hierarchies and to mark criminals.

The process of marking people goes back to the marks found on the primitive tribes of Brazil and the barbarian peoples of antiquity who already used marks on their bodies to separate and identify the criminals of the time. Unlike tattoos made by those who want to adorn their bodies with a design or phrase with the intention of making it look more beautiful, prison tattoos are made strictly to mark without the intention of "beautifying".

The designs used are designed to be interpreted only by those who live in the world of crime and the more exposed the place on the body chosen for the tattoo, the more enigmatic and secret its meaning.

Prison tattoos are used for communication between criminals, they can be gifts for criminal exploits, punishment for a crime not accepted by the inmates, such as rape, to identify the hierarchy in prison, who is boss and who is subordinate, and also to separate gangs, defining the entry or exit of the participant from a specific group, some are still made defining the personality of the inmate and his degree of dangerousness and the crimes for which he is imprisoned.

Due to a lack of resources, prison tattoos are improvised, using unsuitable materials such as paper clips, staples, nails, pen ink, India ink, melted plastic and even cigarette ashes mixed with saliva, which is why the color is always monochrome, with the exception of the illegal entry of ink and professional machines into prisons, which is becoming a more common practice every day.

Some designs and symbols have already been unveiled, but it is impossible to rely on this information since the meaning of the tattoo can vary from place to place and from gang to gang. Below are some tattoos with their possible and most common meanings in the world of crime.

As well as identifying the gang to which the criminal belongs, face tattoos are also used to represent personality.

Jesus Christ on the chest can mean robbery, in some places a drawing of a pistol on the leg is used.

Demons denote inmates who kill for pleasure, murderers who are usually considered psychopaths.

Saci-Pererêused by drug traffickers.

Dove, identifies home burglars.

The caravel in the heart refers to freedom. The Satan over the navel refers to high-risk inmates.

Our Lady of Aparecida tattooed on the hands, arms or thighs identifies a person who has committed murder.

A dagger or knife, a prisoner who has already committed murder using a melee weapon, or a treacherous personality.

Spider's webmade to pay homage to dead comrades.

Five dots tattooed between his thumb and forefinger show that he was part of a robbery gang.

Three graves mean that the owner of this brand keeps secrets like a tomb.

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