What Does A Hatchet Man Tattoo Mean?

The Hatchet Man has been a symbol for the Chinese triads and other gangs for a long time. Although the symbol is quite known, not everyone is aware of its meaning. So, the question is, “what does a Hatchet Man tattoo mean?”

The Hatchet Man tattoos, originating from the Chinese triads, are associated with many things including loyalty, strength, protection as well as cultural heritage. Although this symbol is typically associated with negative things, this is not always the case.

Read on to know more about the history of the Hatchet Man tattoo, the meanings, and symbolisms, different styles of the tattoo, tattoo ideas as well as placement guide.

History of the Hatchet Tattoo

The Hatchet Man tattoo is widely believed to have originated among the Chinese triads and served as a means of secret identification among its members.

Other Asian-American gangs now use the tattoo as a badge of membership and commitment. Since its initial association with gang culture has largely faded away, the hatchet man tattoo has grown increasingly popular.

However, it is also worn by people who are not necessarily part of the Chinese triads or other Asian-American street gangs, even if it is still commonly associated with these groups.

A hatchet man tattoo can mean different things to different individuals; for some, it’s a way to honor their roots or culture, while for others it’s just a stylish and unique design.

Hatchet Tattoo: Meanings and Significance

There are several meanings for the hatchet man tattoo beyond its common link with Asian-American street gangs and the Chinese triads. The following are some potential tattoo meanings for the hatchet man:


In many cultures, including the United States, the hatchet man tattoo symbolizes membership in a closed group, such as a street gang or a secret society.

Protection and strength

The protective and powerful meanings of the hatchet extend beyond its use as a weapon. An individual with a hatchet man tattoo may see it as a symbol of their own power and self-defense.

Overcoming adversity

The resilience and fortitude to triumph in the face of hardship are other meanings associated with the hatchet man tattoo. A person with this tattoo may feel it symbolizes their ability to persevere through adversity.

Cultural identity

Some people choose to get a hatchet man tattoo to show pride in their origin or culture. Someone of Asian ethnicity, for instance, would see the tattoo as a means to honor their heritage and honor their family tree.

It’s vital to keep in mind that a hatchet man tattoo can have a wide range of interpretations, depending on the wearer, the setting, and the individual’s reasons for having the tattoo.

Some tattoos have deep meaning for the wearer, while for others it’s more of a statement of style or a badge of membership in a subculture.

Different Styles of the Hatchet Man Tattoos

The hatchet man tattoo can be done in a number of various artistic modes. Here are some typical styles:


The hatchet in this style of hatchet man tattoo is drawn with incredible realism, looking as though it were pulled straight from the blade. Tattooists that focus on photorealism tend to like this aesthetic.


The hatchet in a hatchet man tattoo is less accurately represented in this style, favoring instead a more stylized or abstract representation. A curving handle or an enormous blade are two examples of how this style can play with proportions.


This version of the hatchet man tattoo uses a classic tattoo aesthetic, with thick black lines and a few bright colors. This look is typically linked with classic tattoos and may include flames or skulls, both of which are common traditional tattoo designs.


The hatchet in this style of hatchet man tattoo is drawn in a very minimalist or basic way, further adding to the tattoo’s abstract quality.

These tattoos often emphasize the entire design and composition of the tattoo rather than an accurate depiction of the hatchet itself and often incorporate geometric shapes or twisted features.

Designing Ideas for Hatchet Man Tattoos

There are a number of variations of the hatchet man tattoo that can be seen. Here are some examples of possible variants:

Hatchet man with flames

This variant of the hatchet man tattoo adds flames to the design, which are said to symbolize the ferocity of the gang lifestyle.

Hatchet man with Chinese characters

This variation of the hatchet man tattoo adds Chinese characters, which could be a tribute to the wearer’s background or the translation of a personal slogan.

Hatchet man with other gang symbols

The hatchet man tattoo is often seen in conjunction with other gang-related tattoos, such as the number 13 (for “M,” the 13th letter of the alphabet) or the number 14. (representing the 14th letter of the alphabet, N).

Hatchet man with other tattoo designs

Some people opt to customize their hatchet man tattoo by adding elements from other tattoo designs, such as animals, symbols, or patterns.

Hatchet man with color

Despite the fact that most examples of the hatchet man tattoo are done in black ink, some people opt to add color to their tattoos for a variety of reasons.

Hatchet man with shading

When done correctly, shading may give a hatchet man tattoo a more three-dimensional look and feel, which is why some individuals like to do so. A multitude of tattooing styles, such as dotwork and stippling, are capable of accomplishing this.

Placement Ideas of the Tattoo

Depending on personal preference and desired tattoo size, the hatchet man tattoo can be tattooed almost anywhere on the body. The hatchet man can be tattooed in a variety of spots, including:


The arm is a common choice for a hatchet man tattoo because it provides ample room for a detailed design and showcases the hatchet in all its imposing glory. Depending on the tattoo’s dimensions and its intended location, it can be applied to the upper arm, the lower arm, or the forearm.


The chest is a common location for hatchet men, especially when the design is expansive. This tattoo looks great either on its own on the chest or as part of a larger design that extends throughout the upper body.


The back is an excellent canvas for a hatchet man tattoo, especially if you’re planning on getting a large design. Depending on the tattoo’s size and location, it can be applied to the upper back, lower back, or full back.


If you want to conceal a tiny hatchet man tattoo, the leg is a wonderful area to do it. Depending on the size and design, the tattoo can be put anywhere on the leg, from the upper to the lower, or even on the calf.


Is it true that only Asian-American gang members get the hatchet man tattoo?

Not everyone with a hatchet man tattoo is a gang member or engages in criminal behavior, despite the tattoo’s association with
Asian-American street gangs and, in particular, the Chinese triads.

A hatchet man tattoo can mean different things to different individuals; for some, it’s a way to honor their roots or culture, while for others it’s just a stylish and unique design.

Is the hatchet man tattoo a symbol of violence?

Since many members of street gangs sport the hatchet man as a badge of allegiance and commitment to the group, the tattoo has become synonymous with gang violence and criminality.

It’s worth noting that not everyone with a hatchet man tattoo is a violent or criminal type, either. Different people, in different situations, and with different reasons for having tattoos can imbue them with vastly different meanings.

Can the hatchet man tattoo be removed?

To answer your question, yes, the hatchet man tattoo may be removed. Laser removal, surgical excision, and dermabrasion are just a few of the tattoo removal methods available today.

Taking Away

To sum up, the hatchet man tattoo is a symbol of the Chinese triads and the Asian-American gang culture more generally.

It’s a badge of honor that gang members wear to show their allegiance and it’s frequently paired with other tattoos that have come to be linked with gang culture.

While the hatchet man tattoo is often associated with violence and criminal activity, it is important to note that not everyone who has a hatchet man tattoo is necessarily a member of a gang or involved in criminal activity.

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