Which Tattoos Do the Italian Mafia Use?

Most Italian mafia members do not use specific tattoos to designate membership with the group, but some factions of the mafia occasionally get tattoos. For example, one common tattoo among the Stidda group is five green marks in a circle that form a small star.

The Stidda use the star tattoo to recognize members. The five points of the star represent “i punti della malavita,” which translates as “the points of the criminal life” in Italian. The name of the group comes from the Italian word meaning star, which is why the star is its iconic tattoo symbol. Although some members get this tattoo, the group does not require it.

One tattoo that people who want to be part of the Italian mafia get is the phrase “morte prima di disonore,” which means “death before dishonor” in Italian. The phrase is more commonly a military tattoo accompanied by images of a scroll and dagger. Most members of the mafia do not have this tattoo, and it is more respectable in mafia circles to get it after spending time in prison.

Generally most members of the Italian mafia prefer to keep a low profile and do not have any iconic tattoos seen in other organized crime groups, such as the Yakuza.