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The fool Patchface has been tattooed in squares of red and green motley. Art by M.Luisa Giliberti ©
Back tattoo of a dragon's tail. Art by Donato Giancola ©

A tattoo is made by inserting indelible ink into the dermis layer of the skin to form a design.[1] Tattooing, primarily of the face, is a custom used frequently in some of the cities in Essos where slavery is practiced, such as Volantis and the cities under its rule.[2][3][4] Some slave tattoos are actually brands, burnt into the skin.[5][6]

A House Greyjoy crewman with a kraken tattoo. Art by German Nobile © FFG


It is custom in Volantis to have the faces of slaves tattooed, to mark their status.[7][2][8] It also prevents slaves escaping on the constant flow of ships. Such tattoos are often designed to reveal the slave's role. This custom is also practiced in the cities under the control of Volantis, like Selhorys.[3]

Facial tattoos can sometimes protect slaves. For example, if soldiers of the Fiery Hand are aboard a ship captured by slavers, they can expect to be bought back by a red temple, since the flames tattooed upon their faces are their insurance.[5]

Former slaves sometimes remove their tattoos. A faded scar is on the widow of the waterfront's cheek, from where she had her tear tattoo cut away after she was freed.[4] Ser Marq Mandrake has a hole in one cheek where a slaver's mark has been burned away.[9]

A rare few known tattoos appear to be unrelated to slavery.[10][11][12][13] According to semi-canon sources, the freeborn citizens of Volantis tattoo themselves to show prowess in battle, and as a record of their exploits.[14]

A man's face being tattooed with squares of motley. Art by Mike Capprotti © FFG

Known slave tattoos

The following slave tattoos are known to be used in Volantis and her associated cities:

  • Squares of motley, from neck to scalp: fools and jesters.[7][8]
  • A wheel upon one cheek: driver of a hathay.[2][8]
  • A mask of blue feathers.[2]
  • A lightning bolt that runs from jaw to brow.[2]
  • A coin upon the cheek.[2]
  • A leopard's spots.[2]
  • A skull.[2]
  • A jug.[2]
  • Flies on the cheeks: slaves that collect elephant and horse dung.[4][8]
  • Flames across the cheeks: members of the Fiery Hand.[5]
  • Flames across the cheeks, chin, and forehead: priests of the faith of R'hllor.[4][15][16][17]
  • A horsehead on the cheek: workers in stables.[4]
  • Tiger stripes, green as jade, across the cheeks: slave soldiers.[3][4][8]
  • A single tear beneath the right eye: prostitutes.[3][4][8]
  • A ship's figurehead on one cheek: slave sailors bound to that ship.[15]
  • A demon's mask, branded on a cheek: a dangerous and disobedient slave.[5][6]

Known tattooed characters

The red priest Moqorro has flame tattoos across his cheeks and forehead. Art by Elena María Vacas ©
Cragorn has a hawk tattooed across his chest. Art by Yoann Boissonnet © FFG


His fool's face left no doubt of who he was. It was the fashion in the Free City of Volantis to tattoo the faces of slaves and servants; from neck to scalp the boy's skin had been patterned in squares of red and green motley.[7]

—thoughts of Maester Cressen, about Patchface

Slave tattoos. Marks of evil.[17]

—thoughts of Victarion Greyjoy

The whores of Lannisport and King's Landing were free women. Their sisters of Selhorys were slaves, their bondage indicated by the tears tattooed beneath their right eyes.[3]

—thoughts of Tyrion Lannister

The slave soldiers of Volantis were fiercely proud of their tiger stripes.[3]

—thoughts of Tyrion Lannister