June 8, 2003 19:09 | Confession

Single black band

I was just informed that a tattoo of a single black band on one's arm possibly has negative symbolic connotation in Japan, indicating a convict (person who is jailed for a crime).

Can anyone verify this for me? How about in other cultures?

This is rather annoying to me as I've been searching for 10 years for a tattoo that would have no symbolic meaning and this was my ace in the hole... sigh...

Thanks in advance!


Don't know if it's the black band that carries a stigma, or the tattoo itself: Many health clubs and swimming pools here exclude anyone with a visible tattoo from entering. It's meant as a way to keep out Yakuza types.
I once considered getting a realistic fake tattoo as a way of breaking my membership early at a health club...

OK ... you asked for it. Sort of wonder why you never asked me about it ...

1) Chinese meaning (see I Ching) base, earth, ground
= positive, powerful, male aspect, yang

2) Electrical sign to indicate direct current or intended for direct current

3) The minus sign, electrical negativity and south in astronomical and nautical systems.

4) Also sea-level, ground-level

5) The transverse beam of the cross representing the material plane of existence.

6) I also want to add a personal interpretation. The horizontal line can be seen as the median between the ancient male symbol /\ (upward pointing triangle, planet mars, phallus) and the female symbol \/ (inverse triangle, planet venus, vagina) ... make of that what you will ;)

As for this Japanese interpretation, well I think the previous comment has it about right. If I come across any new info I will let you know.

I hope this was useful to you.

4- Boris Anthony

Thanks Anders.
Though the jump from a band to a bar is a bit of a leap. ;)

My concern was mainly about not branding myself a convict... :)

I think that, despite the excellent symbolic meanings you mention above, it is still not as strong a symbol as, say, a word, or letter, or character, or other illsutrations.

For those who need to know: for me the single black bar around my right forearm would serve as a reminder that I do still have a physcial form. :)

On my left forearm; just below the elbow I ( had ) a
barbed wire tattoo. Due to around 7 years of bad feed back (i.e. you must have been in prison) I recently had it covered with a single black band
about an inch or so thick.Symbolizing (Karma),Check Polanesian tatoos .