Five dots tattoo

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Illustration of five dots tattoo.

The five dots tattoo is a tattoo of five dots arranged in a quincunx, usually on the outer surface of the hand, between the thumb and the index finger. The tattoo has different meanings in different cultures—it has been variously interpreted as a fertility symbol,[1] a reminder of sayings on how to treat women or police,[2] a recognition symbol among the Romani people,[2] a group of close friends,[3] standing alone in the world,[4] or time spent in prison (with the outer four dots representing the prison walls and the inner dot representing the prisoner).[5] Thomas Edison had this pattern tattooed on his forearm.[6] The five dots tattoo is also most prevalent amongst gangsters. For example, in northern California it is a tattoo that symbolizes the membership of the "15 Street Locos", a juvenile institution gang, created and founded in Monterey County, CA and later spread across the county streets. In the US, it is also believed to have spread from Vietnamese gangs, who use it to mean, "A group of friends".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gilbert, Steve (2000), Tattoo history: a source book : an anthology of historical records of tattooing throughout the world, Juno Books, p. 153, ISBN 978-1-890451-06-6 .
  2. ^ a b Turner, Robert (2005), Kishkindha, Osiris Press Ltd, p. 53, ISBN 978-1-905315-05-5 .
  3. ^ Daye, Douglas D. (1997), A law enforcement sourcebook of Asian crime and cultures: tactics and mindsets, CRC Press, p. 113, ISBN 978-0-8493-8116-4 .
  4. ^ Vigil, James Diego (2002), A rainbow of gangs: street cultures in the mega-city, University of Texas Press, p. 115, ISBN 978-0-292-78749-0 .
  5. ^ Baldayev, Danzig (2006), Russian criminal tattoo encyclopedia, Volume 3, FUEL Publishing, p. 214 .
  6. ^ Sherwood, Dane; Wood, Sandy; Kovalchik, Kara (2006), The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Not So Useless Facts, Penguin, p. 48, ISBN 978-1-59257-567-1 .