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A few generations ago, most tattoos were viewed as potential gang tattoos – whether or not they were actually gang related. In other words, though most people didn't have the skill to identify symbols, it was more or less taken for granted that tattoos were connected to a criminal underworld. A lot of gang members have one or more teardrop tattoos under their eyes, especially if they've spend time in jail. For the average person, it is unlikely that you will encounter gang tattoos at a close enough range to try and identify them.
Japanese gang tattoos (which usually identify members of the Yakuza, or Japanese mafia) take the form of simple black rings around the arm – one ring for each major crime a gang member has committed.
Usually though, tattoos of Yakuza members are very elaborate and detailed, going from sleeve to full body tattoos. Hispanic and Mexican gang tattoos vary a lot, because they relate to the numerous specific gangs.
Most gang and prison tattoos have fuzzy, unsteady lines compared to those of professional tattoos.
Gangsta tattoos are getting mainstream nowadays, because they are idealized and popularized by rappers. Irish tattoos come in a great variety of styles, stemming from the rich and varied artistic traditions that are part of the Irish culture.
From Celtic tattoos to the classic Claddagh heart, to religious tattoos such as the Irish cross, these tattoos are a great way to celebrate your appreciation for Irish and Celtic heritage. Celtic art consists of beautiful and complex knotwork and stylized images taken from nature. This Celtic knotwork can also be found on Irish stonework that may date as far back as 400 BC.
The Irish are very well aware of their Celtic heritage, but many Irish are also very religious.
The word "shamrock" is derived from the Irish word seamrog, which means "little clover." It refers to a three-leafed white clover (which is really green but has white flowers), not the rare four-leaf clover often associated with good luck. Despite not being the "lucky" four-leaf clover, the shamrock and any clover represents good fortune in the Irish tradition.


A four-leaf clover is extremely rare, that's why it became a symbol of luck: you must be extremely lucky to find one (you have 1 chance in 10,000). In tattoo designs, four-leaf clovers are often combined with other luck symbols, like a horseshoe.
As a tribute to her faithfulness and love, he designed what we now know as the Claddagh, a crowned heart held by two hands.
The third type of Irish tattoo is one that reflects the Irish folklore, which is related to both the Celtic and Christian traditions, yet distinct from both. The Irish are very patriotic and tend to be rather sentimental about their love for their culture - which would explain the growing popularity of Irish tattoos.
That’s because tattooing was relatively uncommon among the mainstream public, and having a tattoo almost automatically meant that you had some sort of criminal association.
The similarity with tribal tattooing is quite strong – there, too, tribe members got additional tattoos in recognition of deeds they had done. Just like gang tattoos, they form a secret language that pictures all kinds of information about the wearer, such as hierarchy, commited crimes, etc. When gang or ghetto tattoos are taken out of their context (the gang) they are not the real thing anymore. The Irish have a soulful, spiritual and very colorful culture - and Irish tattoo art reflects the full spectrum of it. In fact, the Irish commonly place a clover in the bride’s bouquet as well as in the groom’s boutonniere to ensure a happy union! They can go almost anywhere – on an ankle, shoulder, lower back or even on the hand or foot. Patrick drew a simple Latin cross through the symbol of the stone circle, a motive readily adopted by his new converts. That Irish Claddagh tattoo on the pretty Colleen sitting next to you has its roots in a story from the early 16h century.
The fisherman was rescued by pirates unfortunately and was sold into slavery in western Africa. A Claddagh tattoo may symbolize a romantic connection between two people or it may represent a strong bond of friendship that lasts through the years, that's why it's often used as a marriage tattoo.


While Irish tattoos are common as body art in today's society, they embody the elements of an ancient and playful Celtic spirit.
There are still tattoo designs that are specific to the different ethnic gangs that operate in the major cities. They indicate for example what status a member has in the group or what a prisoner is in for. Alternatively, a small five pointed star can be found on the hand, between the thumb and first finger. The ink used in Russian prisons for example was made with melted shoe soles, mixed with urine and blood. The Celts were an ancient people who once lived throughout Europe, settling in the British Isles around the time of the early Roman Empire. Today's tattoo symbols draw on this ancient tradition and are a favorite motif for Irish tattoo designs.
Escaping a few years later, he returned to Ireland, expecting his betrothed to have married someone else.
A golden harp with silver strings has been an Irish symbol from as early as the 13th century. Gang and prison tattoos have more in common with traditional tribal tattoos than they do with modern decorative body art: they are designed to mark an individual as a member of a group, as well as being an indication of status.
He was a wise man and used familiar objects to illustrate Christian principles to the Irish people. It is said he reached down, plucked a shamrock, and held it up to illustrate the Holy Trinity to the followers of pagan Celtic gods and goddesses. They were rather nasty customers with no qualms about doing in nosy people trying to heist their Lucky Charms.



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