Tattoos as symbols and what they mean
Lately I have got a lot of questions about what different tattoos mean. Of course this could be highly personal and subjective not to mention culturally conditioned, but there are a few consistent interpretations which have been created in an early stage for every culture and era. Sometimes it could also be that something once symbolizing a specific thing has been altered with time. Or at least become more ambiguous. For instance, the tears on the cheekbone have been representing a specific amount of murder in some cultures, just as spiderweb on the elbow. This has been adopted not only by murderers themselves, but also individuals who appreciate the ambiguity and fear factor of the symbols and want the beholders to have doubt in their interpretation. When this adopting of a symbol has been done by enough people not representing the murderers, it blurs the original message and the borders of the defined tattooed group. After a while and in some cultures, the tattoo motif does not carry the same taboo or message as it once did.
However, if you want to read some of the basic meaning of popular tattoos of today, you could always check out tattoo symbol guides.