Monasteries, cathedrals, castles, and fortresses are often tattooed on the chest, back, or hand. The number of spires or towers can represent the years a prisoner has been incarcerated, or number of times they have been imprisoned. The phrase, “The Church is the House of God,” often inscribed beneath a cathedral, has the metaphorical meaning, “Prison is the Home of the Thief.”
Apparently it was Viggo Mortensen who showed David Cronenberg the DVD ‘Mark of Cain’ during the filming of Eastern Promises and that is why all the Russian criminal tattoos are so accurate. Also the documentary is amazing.