Chinese Three-Dot Tattoos

03 Dec 2004

Tian over at Hanzismatter is doing a good job showcasing bad tattoo choices Westerners make. This post has nothing to do with that kind of tattoo. I’m talking about a kind of tattoo that Chinese people themselves get. I’ve seen it on multiple occasions. It’s a small tattoo consisting of three dots (usually, I think) on the back of the hand near the base of the thumb. I keep meaning to ask people about the meaning of their tattoo when I see it, but somehow it’s never convenient.

Chinese 3-dot tattooI looked for a picture of this kind of tattoo on the web, and I only turned up this one small picture. It came from a Shanghai hospital’s website offering plastic surgery and tattoo removal services.

I asked Tian about it, thinking he may know something about it, but he was only able to offer this link, which is about quite adifferent kind of tattoo. Does anyone know anything about this?

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. Though coming from China,I have as less knowledge about this as you,haha.However,I think it must be hurt.

  2. flipyrface Says: December 3, 2004 at 9:33 pm

    although my family is originally from laos, my grandmother and her granny pals had similar tats on their hands. many years before she passed away, i asked her about it. she said she got it when she was really young (13 or 14) but for the life of me, i cant remember why.

  3. Well, here in Los Estados Unidos, it’s a gang thing. Here’s a link:

    http://www.gangsorus.com/asianmrks.htm

    However, I know that in Iraq that children are given that marking sometimes to indicate that their family is loyal to someone. It’s also used in Latin America also, but I didn’t take time to read about those.

  4. In Sweden we call them “hobo dots” (luffarprickar).

  5. Why not call the hospital and ask?

  6. any chance could be like “party dots” are in the u.s.? basically a small, *pointless tattoo just to have one, often homemade (i guess to show off how tough you are??????).

    *i’ve never understood why you would just get a dot. either get a tattoo, or don’t! what good is a dot? sorry if i’ve offended anyone — if there is a reason or some symbolism i am unaware of, i’d be happy to learn of it

    • “party dots”, in OKC anyways, are just something you do when your drunk or high on something you do to yourself. If you see someone with party dots you already know they’re for anything

    • well ya it s a stupid tattoo i have got dem when i was like 14 15 but it means mi vida loca but i regret getting dem i want to cover it with a heart or something;)

  7. are they related to buddhism? i’m aware of one order of buddhist monastics that burn three scars into their foreheads to represent the triple gem of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha (the monastic community). Might this be somehow related to that? Maybe some laypeople do this as a sign of faith?

  8. It means those people are about to be shot by Predator.

  9. I think they are some kind of superstition that having those tattoos on certain location would protet them from evil spirits.

  10. Jacques Aandy Says: December 4, 2004 at 3:45 am

    Could it be related to the Chinese Triads, or would that be too simple an answer?? !!

    🙂

  11. Predator comment is the winner – this thread may now be closed.

  12. I have asked many times but have never gotten a decent answer.

    ÍеÄ

    You are the master.

  13. This is not related to the post but ÍеÄ,
    what happened to your web site? I really enjoyed reading it.

  14. Comet, nice name. It ranks up there with:

    1) Apple (F – beat Gwyneth to it)
    2) Sniper (M – “Do you play CS?”)
    3) Jordan (M – only for Michael will Beijing close the Great Wall p.s. when said male is called Jordan, will be wearing pirate Nike Jordans, pirate Jordan apparel and pirate Nike hat. See also: victim of marketing)
    4) Pringle (F – once you pop, you cant stop)

  15. Gustav,

    I got too busy lately to continue blogging, so I’m taking an extended sabbatical. I might start up again when I get back from China in a few months.

  16. I like “Comet” as a name.

  17. It’s all about secret societies.

  18. Well even I’m not posting about these 3 dots.. but related… in India, in villages.. sometimes women would get a tattoo of their husbands name on their arm..

    One of the reason being that they dont call their husbands by their name.. so if somebody asks u who you’re married to.. i guess its better to show the name on your hand.. I dont know.. sounds wierd.

  19. Da Xiangchang Says: December 5, 2004 at 6:22 pm

    I always liked the name Electra (or preferably, Elektra), and when combined with a REALLY boring last name like Smith or Wilson, I think it could sound cool. Imagine it: Elektra Smith. But by itself, Elektra sounds like a stripper’s name so that won’t do.

    I think people with Chinese last names who live in the West are lucky in that they can have a REALLY boring first name and still have a cool, original name. Like you can’t get more boring than, say, Joe. But you combine it Joe with, say, Liu, it becomes a sort of cool name. Joseph Liu–not many of those around. And I think Chinese people should get American first names once they immigrate to the West. Certain cultures are adament about giving their kids first names from their old country even if they’re born in the West, but I find such practices to be very stupid. I mean, naming a kid Muhammad or Apurva or Jintao in America is going to do nothing but give him problems.

    So I guess the key to having a cool name is to either have an original first or last name. Don’t make both original; otherwise, you’ll sound like a retard. Of course, you have great ability, you can have a phonetically jarring name like Arnold Schwarzenegger or a homo-sounding name like Jackie Chan or a really boring name like Will Smith, and still be cool.

    And I have no frigging idea what those 3 dots mean! I hate tattoos, especially unoriginal ones!!!

  20. One word: TRIADS!

    Hardcore, yo. So like, if you’re strolling down the street– and people start hasslin’ you, just be like, “representin’, yo!” and flash them your gang sign. They’ll know you’re fo’sho when they see the triad tattoo on your hand.

    (The above may or may not be true. I am sleep deprived, and it is 4 AM here.)

  21. Wikipedia has similar answers to the other comments left here (though they missed the Predator lore):

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

  22. The Monkey King has this same tattoo (birthmark) on his foot. Well, at least he does in Zhou Xing Chi’s movie. Maybe it is related to that. I just randomly noticed that when I was watching that movie…

    In any case, it is either from Predator or that movie. Has to be.

  23. “My crazy life” it is a common gang tattoo.

  24. i have them tated on my hand in between the thumb and pointer.some call em party dots some say they mean “crazy life” but i just got to get it lol. i did mine myself

  25. anonymous Says: March 23, 2005 at 2:36 pm

    it’s a tatoo that no one talks about. If you are there when someone gets one you will understand… I have one. People do call them party dots, but there’s a deeper meaning…

  26. i have one such dot on my wrist…i did it in college. and was told it was called a drinking dot, because if you see more than one then you know you’ve had too much. this is different from the three dots you have pictured here though. unless it’s the more sophisticated chinese version…you know you’ve had too many when you see 9 or more dots swirling dirvish-like on your hand.

  27. A tattoo of three dots in a triangle, usually found on the skin between the thumb and forefinger, stands for “mi vida loca” (“my crazy life”). Along with the pachuco cross, it is a popular “generic” tattoo among Hispanic teenagers, and has no direct connection to gangs. The tattoo has also been adopted by Vietnamese teenagers, along with the similar interpretation of “toi khong can gi ca” (“I care about nothing”).

    A teardrop tattoo is said to indicate that the wearer has killed or a friend of his was killed in prison. It is worn by the eye.

  28. I appreciate the comments, but some of you guys are on the wrong track here…

    The Chinese people getting these tattoos are not American college kids, and they’re not gang bangers. They’re basically Chinese peasants. They’re not getting these tattoos to mean “mi vida loca,” sorry. Those explanations just don’t apply.

  29. interesting. I have 3 dots on the back of both of my hands. They are not tattoos though nor are they freckles. They are “dents” in my skin or scars that are shaped in the same way. They appeared when I was younger, maybe 13 or 14. If someone does know the meaning of this, I would appreciate you sharing.

  30. my first tattoo was of three dots on my hip. to me it meant therefore, as in the mathematical symbol, as this was special to me as a kid. it means loads of different things to different cultures:

    sailors, swedish and chinese hobos= protection and security

    north america and hispanic= the crazy life

    maths = therefore, upside down because

    meteorology= rain

    prison= ‘f*** the pigs’/ anti-police

    it also means star, silver, clubs and pawnbroker! hope this answers your qu.

  31. I’ve heard somewhere that it might be a gangrelated tattoo and it might mean that the person who weares it has killed somebody!

  32. I have three dots formed as a triangle on the left of my upper right shoulder and they are birthmarks.

  33. laura c Says: May 5, 2005 at 3:35 am

    well i have three dots on wrist not exactly there on the bone part. i got it when i was in a gang in highschool a pachuca gang.it meant love honor and pride for the klika

  34. Three dots tattoo

    Sinosplice has an intriguing question about Chinese three dots tattoos. Tian over at Hanzismatter is doing a good job showcasing bad tattoo choices Westerners make. This post has nothing to do with that kind of tattoo. I’m talking about a…

  35. It can also mean Mi Vida Loca or my crazy life.

  36. that ain’t no asian tatto. Its a tattoo that latino teens and gangs use. It means “Mi vida Loca” or ‘my crazy life” i have it tatted on my hand

    • asian groups have been around alot longer than hispanic or latin groups, i know the true meaning of this, but have sworn an oath

  37. Based on these helpful responses, I’d say those Chinese peasants are probably triad gangbangers who listen to both Ricky Martin and NWA and are also huge fans of the Predator movies. A real fan would get the tattoo in the middle of his or her forehead, though.

  38. Yeah, I think the above posters must be right. There is absolutely no way that three dots in a triangle (obviously such an odd/difficult configuration to recreate) could ever have more than one meaning around the world and possibly the galaxy. Regardless of the fact these tatoos are found in China among people with no knowledge of Ricky Martin or Latin American culture, it means Mi vida Loca, yo.

  39. We do not speak of mi vida loca

  40. william david Says: December 25, 2005 at 1:53 am

    three dots can mean many things to many people but to speak universaly. – the oldest to derive from would be mother/father/child since the begining of time, this is the three. this is the greatest virtuous thing. and i dare say the prison reference is a thug reference and would be considered derogatory to real cons

  41. why do people leave stupid comments that have nothing to do with the point or things they know nothing about. in relation to china it means literally “I care for nothing” but its not a gang thing. its like a sailor/ transient classless/ countryless person. i have no allegiance. it is a symbol against society. all idiots please refrain from pointlessly speaking.it does however men “mi vida loca” in the states. completly unrelated

  42. some dude Says: January 22, 2006 at 7:54 am

    in alot of gangs it tends to mean “Life, Health and Prosperity”

  43. I can’t believe no one knows the real meaning…!
    The dots were “born” in Europe during the introduction of City Watchers (now called cops). When the first Cops tried to bring order to the municipalities and started introducing laws, not all people liked to concur. A underworld was created and, from farmer to politician, people joined. Needless to say they could not introduce themselves as troublemakers; a lifetime in jail would surely be the result. However, when shaking one’s hand someone could easily be identified if they had the same “sign”. Later on, this symbol was carried overseas and its meaning changed somewhat, most likely by the person carrying it and covering up its true backgrouns…

    As you can see, the meanings of “jailbird”, “gang member” and even “Mi Vida Loca” come close but it apparently it lost lots of its true meaning over the centuries…

  44. The city watchers origin is valid. Though remember,.. tattoos are a native pratice to all peoples around the world.
    Europeans have a their personal history of tattoo usage,…but so do Asians and Native Americans (Mexicans).
    With their own individual cultural symbols and ideas. Even though they make come out similar when all compared. (We are all humans after all)
    The Chinese three point tattoo probably has its own unique cultural history and meaning. That doesnt mean most chinese would know what it would be.
    Just like most Mexicans dont know anything about the origins of cholos and their expression.

  45. well who knows what it rearly means.All i can tell u is that i have one or should i say three on my right foot buy my little toe.A birth mark.It has often crossed my mind as to what it may mean.A symbol of protection sounds comforting,especially when at times in my life i have come in to contact with dark forces and felt protected within.The Father The Sonand the Wholy Ghost, may be…..All I know Is that this world is a crazy one and you’ve got to be a little bit crazy to survive in it.Take care all of you and keep forgiving youself and others around you ,when things go wrong…XXX

  46. here is a website explaining the use of the three dots…. http://www.gangsorus.com/asianmrks.htm

  47. DongBei Says: May 13, 2006 at 11:39 am

    I just went to Henan, and noticed no less than 10 women, ranging from 15 to 50 or so, having a very similar tattoo – on their forearm they had 3 dots in a triangular pattern, then four dots in a rhombus pattern, then something else (not chinese charatcters, but neither were they dots). I asked one of the ladies what it meant, and she told me it meant nothing, that she got it when she was young, and that women in Henan often do this for decoration. This was in the Luoyang/Shaolin part of Henan. A seperate thing are the cigarette burns men exhibit on their wrists and forearms. I was told they are done by gang members and/or “tough” guys. Also, run away from any fight with a guy who’s got a dragon tattoo on his arm, forearm, or chest. That’s a sign of memebership in a gang. This information I got when I had a few baijou shots with some guys in a bar – I noticed a dragon on one guy’s foream and told him it looked cool; the other dudes around me showed me their tattoos, and told me that if I needed any help with the police, government, or if anybody was messing with me, I should just call them up and they’ll straighten everything out (I bought them a beer). Don’t mess with me yo…
    Incidentally, that Predator comment was the funniest thing I read in a month.

  48. i dont see the [point in drawing dots on ur body its silly and a waste of money why not have a normal tattoo done somewhere normal

  49. Laura: because China has a long cultural connection with Norteno prison gangs and “la vida loca” and so that’s why they get the tattoos. Tattoos of dolphins, on the ankle, just don’t have the same effect.

    I think they’re way cool, in a Chinese context.

  50. Fernando Says: June 10, 2006 at 9:33 am

    I have those 3 dots on the right side of my face but they are smaler:) How my god I must hide from predator!!!

  51. It depends on which origin of chinese are you talking about. It could mean different things depending on their originality. In vietnam, china, HK, taiwan, singapore etc. As far as i know, if they were chinese and not malays, it could only mean a few things, gang tattoos, religious tattoos or homemade tattoos(most rare). Some gang tattoos consists only 1 or 2 dots, located on your finger web (the skin between our fingers), it is also unlikely but possible for it to be religious, but mostly its on the top of their head.

  52. Johnny Malvado Says: August 15, 2006 at 1:27 am

    You’re all retarded. A lot of cultures created the tattoo with different meanings without having to “Share” the idea…Three dots isn’t hard to come up with. To the latinos it means My Crazy Life, to the asians “I care for nothing”, ect… Gangs adopted these tattoos because they represent belief systems that they also have. And the location is important too. Three dots in the fold of the skin between the thumb and finger doesn’t mean the same thing as three dots on the back of the hand, arm, ect…
    Just use common sense, and a little bit of research (I found the answer to all your questions in about 5 minutes on the internet.)

    Settin’ your asses straight once again,
    – Johnny Malvado
    Los Malvados MC, Canada

  53. Johnny: So you’re saying they have Mexican prison gangs in Canada? Uber-nortenos? I googled “uber-nortenos” for 5 minutes but didn’t come up with anything.

  54. Over here(Europe,Belgium&France) they stand for 3 things.
    Anti-police, anti-rasism and anti-authaurities

    Just sharing info

  55. Da Xiangchang Says: August 26, 2006 at 3:29 am

    Yves,

    Anti-police AND anti-racism? Haha. I didn’t think Europe would have redneck cops like in America’s south. Haha.

  56. I just noticed three brown dots in a triangle on the end of my nose. The Holy Trinity perhaps?! I do not know!

  57. In Henri “Papillon” Charriere`s biography, he mentions a friend from somewhere in China who has three dots on his hand becouse he had been a leader in a revolution, I dont know if this is true but you never know.

  58. Skizmatic Says: October 1, 2006 at 3:41 am

    I’ve seen a tattoo like that on many Filipinos in between the thumb and pointer. My aunt has one and so does my godmother. I heard that it was from a co-ed fraternity. I just realized today that I joined a fraternity that uses a triangle symbol with three circles on each corner and thought that it might be the same fraternity, so I decided to look it up and came across this. I’ll have to ask what exactly it means. I highly doubt that for them it means anything similar to “mi vida loca” or anything gang related because all the women I’ve seen it on definitly did not have wild younger years.

  59. Solamente dejate el puto tatuaje por cualquier significado que tu te lo haigas hecho y ya!!! En Nicaragua el tatuaje significa “Mi Vida Loca” (Dinero, Drogas y Mujeres) y solo se lo hacen los que tengan los huevos para representarlo… yo lo tengo entre el pulgar y el indice y si esta relacionado a las pandillas de .:Centro America:. Dale y Representalo…

  60. That pattern occurs twice on my face. Once at the corner of my right eye near the temple and anther time at the bottom left hand corner of my lips.

    And, I think that it’s quite obvious that many diffrent symbols have multiple meanings and all you close minded people that think you’ve got the only right answer can go lick some lead paint.

  61. To the chinese gangsters, the three-dot tattoo represents the trinity of Heaven Earth and Man, which is the foundation of the Triads (triad=of 3) so yeah its not only the westerners who have it.

  62. Hello everyone, I am from china. I had seen the tatto in china, but most of the tattoo is for chinese old woman, it is always in her hands.

  63. http://www.symbols.com/encyclopedia/08/083.html

    Maybe that explains it a little more or you can search “the three dots” on wikipedia and it explains it…

  64. i have the three dots on my hand…in America its usaully found on hispanic teans meaning “mi vida loca”which is “my crazy life” in english.its also a gang tattoo for Mexicans in southern California because of X3.the Northerners have 4 dots.

  65. The meaning of the three dots is “my crazy life” and indicates they don’t care about anything. In the Vietnamese language it translates to “toi o can gi ca”.

  66. it means:
    1. Mi Vida Loco (my crazy live)
    2. Los Vatos Locos (The Crazy Dudes or Guys)
    3. if made by cigarette. Toi khong can gi ca (I don’t care about anything)

  67. I’m a young Hispanic adult, and I have the three dots tattooed on my left hand. They stand for ‘Mi Vida Loca’. Myself and anyone I know with this tattoo have all decided to get it to stand for a time in our lives when things were crazy for us. Family problems, drug addiction, living in the ghetto, being in foster care, a death of a friend/family member, etc. Basically anyone has been through a crazy time in their lives, just some people decide to express that to others through a simple tattoo.

    JUST MY OPINION:
    As for this being a gang tattoo, I’m guessing it ended up becoming one after several people were first arrested with it, that were involved with gangs. It would be very understandable for someone within a gang to have a tattoo with a meaning of ‘Mi Vida Loca’. Anyways, cops tend to recognize tattoos as standing for something, therefore I would understand why a gang would adopt a symbol for themselves to allow others to know which gang they belonged to.

    Once again that is just my opinion as for how this tattoo received it’s gang meaning.

  68. My father got one tattoo like that one his hand, he got it when he was a sailor, he says the tatto stands for; No money, no Honey, no home.

  69. 3 dots is symolized for mexican gangs mostly sur 13 and vl3
    sur 13 .: and vl3 .’. others have different numbers of dots i have them on my hand representing mi vida loca

  70. Mike m.. Says: June 6, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    it means “hard life” or something. alot of white people get them becuz they lost multiple friends or relatives…Mainly they mean u grew up having a hard life..struggles..etc. My friend explained it in spanish and called it her “crazy life tattoo”

  71. My Best friend Kenny has this on his wrist, He says it means my crazy life. I was riding with him in my truck and i was looking @ his wrist and i saw it so I asked what it was, And at first he wouldnt tell me all he said was “Just a stupid pass time”

  72. ugh hey,
    I am a tattoo artist, form my knowledge dots on hands in oriental tradition symbolises the spot their lovers thumb reaches. its a love dot. It began when japanese royalty wanted ownership of their geisha without direct connection. . . in South american culture three dots as represented in the photo means ( my crazy life ) and is common on latin youths hands of nostril.
    the end

  73. it means “mi vida loca” in spanish wich means my crazy life in english or my thug life

  74. I found this page because my girlfriend said she wanted these dots tattooed on her. I was under the impression they were gang related so tried to find reason to discourage her. Though the “predator” comment was great, you should know that people are calling them that now-Predator Dots. All in all, I have alot of ink and would discourage people from tatooing anything on them that MAY have gang related implications.

  75. If the three dots are done as burn marks like with a ciagrette, its not exactly a gang tattoo but it does have affiliation with asian gangs. I have the 3 dots burned on the base of my thumb.
    For traditional chinese people who have ties to more traditional gangs, it represents Heaven Earth and Man, the triangular symbol for Triads and people who claim affiliation with Hong Men (like Chinese Free masons). A litlte more history – Chinese Triads were originally commoners or peasents who formed brotherhoods to fight the invaders into mainland China. Anyone involved with revolutions or were affiliated with the underground in China have the symbols tattooed or burned. They were used by various political parties to do their dirty work, but once their use was no longer needed, they felt out of place and didn’t know any other life than living the underground life, so they migrated overseas and eventually became today’s oraganized crime groups.

    If it is tattooed, it is a religious thing having to do with Buddhism. You will only find it in areas that are not industrialized like Shanghai or Hong Kong.
    For other asians and chinese people who have it burned on that have no ties to the traditional gangs, it’s just a way for them to look hard. They give their own meanings to it. Some give it the meaning of something similar to blood brothers.

    Theres also a similar burn marking with 5 dots in the pattern of the 5 on a dice. In vietnamese it represents the 5 Ts which mean something in vietnamese having to do with gangs. For other asian gangs, it represents a person which is the middle dot, surrounded by his closets friends for protection.

  76. tabernacle Says: April 4, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    it means everything that was said above… atleast according to your knowledge…

  77. okay, if you ever see someone with three dots in the shape of a triangle, it usually means that they are a partier. you can ask them about local parties, if they deal drugs, or if they know anyone that does. i hope this answers any of your questions.

    also, if a persom hopes to enlist in the military, they will make you get rid of said “party dots”. it is thought to be a gang ownership tattoo

  78. Hi,

    I also know someone who has that tattoo (see link) and he told me that the dots where against police and against all the forces that wants to make a prison of this world.

    Grtz

  79. The three dots are known as party dots, and they can stand for several different meanings as My Crazy Life, my three best friends names, or My Party Life. I got my party dots on the back my hands at the lower left hand corner right at were my wrist and hand join. They are exactly half a centimeter apart they use the metrics to size them because they originate from china were they use metrics.

  80. its simple a gang thing, although it originated in Scotland(the Freemasons were the first to get it and still do) a lot of gangs use it all over the world, with meanings of it change from place to place, from Brotherhood,God and Truth, too Fuck the cows (cows being police) but if u see it now its probably is gang related outside of Scotland

    p.s i was going to get one until i noticed i have it as a birthmark already. saved me the trouble ha ha

    • Ok, this is what it originally meant. Back in the early early days in Japan, the servants were not allowed to marry each other, so if they did, they could obviously not wear rings. Instead, they tattooed the dots on their thumbs and when the held the hand of their wife or husband, the dots would be on top of each other and line up signifying their relationship or bond to each other. It is very simple and very passionate. Thats it, noting more than that. Best of all, unlike rings you can throw away, the dots remained forever. Very cool!

      • China Shark Mike Says: June 28, 2010 at 11:53 pm

        I’ve lived in Shenzhen for the last 18 months and have seen it on quite a few people. It is related to tough people who’ve lead hard lives. The only type of Chinese I see wearing these tattoos appear to be peasants from their exterior appearance. When I see highly visible tattoos even as a tattooed person right away I associate it with apathy or anti establishment. I personally have 17 tattoos on my body. 16 of which are on my upper arms so if need be I can cover them up in polite society. I have no tattoos below my elbows because of the social implications that might impact my family. Tattoos are brands, marking one’s skin for all to see. I am starting to notice more and more younger Chinese tattooing their hands, incredibly stupid, what if your future husband or wife finds them low class like my girlfriend. Cannot wear tanktops or tight shirts around her family. I’ve seen a lot of roses on hands and wrists here, I suspect that it is some type of identification for professional girls. Could be wrong but the ones I’ve seen them on were always dressed like women of very little virtue. With that being said there are a lot of the younger tough Chinese sporting these tattoos {tribal markings} between pointer and the thumb. Assuming it is a right of passage for the younger crowd and not necessarily a criminal affiliation. Basicly, I consider these marks to represent very poor working class people. A lot of street people and people with very menial jobs have these. Yes, most of the women are usually around 40 years or older also.

    • Can I see ur birthmark

    • Do u have Facebook or Instagram

  81. Juho Lasse Wahlberg Says: July 2, 2010 at 6:03 am

    I am from Finland and my grandfather has this tattoo. He once told me that its meaning is wanderer or traveller. I wouldn’t recommend getting this tattoo however, for many obvious reasons.

  82. Triad would be a good guess but there are more than three dots. I think the dots were done in prison and I think they used to be done by the Police on the criminal. I’m guessing theft, prostitution – pettyish crime. Anything more serious and they would have probably been executed.

    That is my guess as when you ask the person they say that they were done a long time ago and they don’t want to talk about it. They are often in a place where you can’t hide them and a Chinese person, especially a woman, knows they have a negative connotation and I don’t think that they would voluntarily do that. Branding to shame/lose face is what I think. That way everybody outside knows who has been inside and why most of the time, the person doesn’t have a good job. I don’t think it’s done any more but in the past, as you probably well know, the one person you never ever crossed (and most still don’t) were the police/party. Ruthless bastards.

    A spell in prison meant the end of any serious hope of progressing in society hence the poverty, bad job and why some think it is apathy but I don’t. Having that done to your self would have just made you stand out and you would be shafted. Why would a Chinese person who knows that, do that? Doesn’t make any sense.

    Incidentally, each province also has its own gang/triad and each has its own animal which members would and still have tattoed on the their upper arm. If you are still here in China, ask around in bars and KTV joints and you’ll find out which animal is for which province.

    Also, I believe that if the person has a long sword tattooed on their forearm, they sell or used to sell opium/heroin. Have met two such men from different parts of China with the same tattoo who told me so and who both narrowly avoided being executed by bribing the police/government.

    Nice post pengyou, as there is very little on the net about this despite what some say and think above.

    Bao zhong!

  83. I have this tattoo….3 dots in a triangle between the thumb and pointer finger. They can mean different things in different areas of the world…..Mine are Hobo dots….meaning protection as well as Hope, Faith, and Love. Hope this puts some of the questions to rest.

  84. naichhaltverdammt Says: June 29, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    i’m from europe and here it is a symbol for “hear nothing, see nothing, say nothing” (3 apes). it stands for loaltiy and not cooperate with the cops. most times it comes with some prison time…

  85. hi!
    Yes, my grandfather has this tattoo. I, myself, have been trying to research and my parents told me that every male in a small village int he Henan province have it. Though, I do not know the meaning. Did you ever find some more information?

  86. It is a result of teachings that there will come one day a person bearing a mark on their hand consisting of a dot/dots. This person is believed to be the one that will lead to the dramatic change to the world. Chinese whispers have lead to many variants of the mark and its location.

    Some people are tattooing their offsprings in hopes of indicating their kids is the one and some in hopes to protect their kids should the one see the mark on their kids. Others believe they are the one.

    Modern observers of “illuminati” are using the mark as to reflect they are aware or part of the order. Others are using it to indicate anti government.

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