Tear Drop Tattoo:

Tear Drop Tattoo:


Teardrop Tatto

The teardrop tattoo or tear tattoo is a symbolic tattoo of a tear that is placed underneath the eye. The teardrop is one of the most widely recognised prison tattoos (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

That’s the first time it was heard that the teardrop tattoo was used in prison, and it was drawn for various reasons such as sorrow, loss of an inmate, some criminal events that were taking place inside the prison cells, and others. The teardrop also represented the struggle inside the prison cells, but more about that later. (Source: www.savedtattoo.com)

What Do Teardrop Tattoos Symbolize

Long the focus of internet searches and interesting origin theories, what do teardrop tattoos really mean? Do people get teardrop tattoos in prison? Read on for more insight into one of tattoo culture’s most interesting phenomena. (Source: nextluxury.com)

Prisoners can produce surprisingly innovative tattoo machines from radio transistors, scavenged magnets, and repurposed mechanical pencils. Sharpened guitar strings make for some of the most popular tattoo needles for their length and flexibility. The variety and complexity of machines that guards have confiscated are a testament to the determination of artists to practice their trade, even when locked up. (Source: nextluxury.com)

Where Did Teardrop Tattoos Originate?

The true origin of this ubiquitous prison tattoo is lost to history, although there are references dating back in the US at least forty years. While there is little doubt that the practice has roots going back much further, the teardrop was first brought to the mainstream’s attention in an article published in the New Yorker in the 1970’s detailing the experience of a Mexican gang member who served time in the United States corrections system. (Source: nextluxury.com)

What Does the Teardrop Tattoo Mean

Teardrop tattoos can often be seen in TV shows, celebrities, and even some criminal stories. However, their meaning and origin have a much deeper history than shown in pop culture. The teardrop tattoos are most commonly found on the face, near one of the eyes, and sometimes both. The teardrop tattoo has been controversial for a long time, due to being associated with the criminal life and record of some people. Tattoos have a long and fascinating history on their own, representing a complex world that may be hidden to some. Many designs not only communicate a distinct identity but also declare remarkable beliefs. But jail tattoos take it up a notch: despite the hard setting that these tattoos come from, many of them carry rich symbolism, often blending the esoteric with the practical, the shocking with the plain. (Source: www.theskullandsword.com)

Teardrop Tattoo (various Designers

From the curators: In his 1908 essay “Ornament and Crime,” early-20th-century Viennese architect Adolf Loos infamously–and incorrectly–labeled tattoo design the preserve of criminals and so-called degenerates, an opinion that willfully ignores the rich social and aesthetic history of the tattoo for many individuals and cultures across the globe. However, like most fields of design, certain aspects of the practice of tattooing intersect with violence, perhaps most incontrovertibly in the case of the teardrop tattoo. Although they help shape self- and group identities, tattoos can often remain hidden from sight under clothing. However, there is almost no way to conceal a design inked near the eye, highlighting the deliberately public declaration a teardrop tattoo constitutes. Teardrop designs are as varied as the artists who render the pigment under the skin, and their meaning is contested—depending on factors like the geographic location or personal experiences of the wearer. Interpretations range from the oft-repeated inference that, for those tattooed in prison, one tear equals one life taken, to the opposite end of the spectrum, where the teardrop may demarcate a victim of violence—sometimes within the confines of prison walls, and sometimes on the outside—or someone who stands in solidarity with a loved one who has experienced violence. (Source: www.moma.org)

Where this tattoo originated I do not know. I would venture to guess inmates on Devil’s Island were decorating each others’ cheekbones. In my frame of reference, postwar California prison-style (which in the jailhouse tattoo world is like Florence during the Renaissance), the teardrop tattoo can mean a couple of things. The first thing I heard was that one teardrop meant you had done time, usually at least one year. Some people say that a teardrop means that you killed someone. I think one of the reasons for the proliferation of teardrops is that they are a breeze to draw or hand poke. This is one of the reasons that it seems so popular among the youth authority set. In this, age of overkill, kids getting out of YA are likely to have numerous teardrops. If one teardrop is tough, how tough would you be with five or seven? (Source: www.moma.org)

115 Teardrop Tattoos With Remarkable History

Teardrop tattoos have been around for a very long time. People have been searching up the meanings of these tattoos for decades. If you are looking for a tattoo that holds plenty of mystery, then you can’t go wrong with the teardrop tattoo. In prison, it does matter what side of the face it is on. The left side represents that an inmate has killed someone. It’s also been said that the one to one ratio of the teardrops means that it is one teardrop for every murder. We can’t help but do a double-take when we see someone sporting more than one teardrop.

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