One Piece: Trafalgar D. Water Law’s Tattoo Meanings, Explained

One Piece's Trafalgar Law can be a tough nut to crack. At times, he'll have a cool, cocky and occasionally sadistic attitude toward life. However, at other times, he's cold, calculating and doesn't like to show his true feelings. In any case, he comes off as a very reserved individual.

Despite how Law presents himself emotionally, there are other ways to get a glimpse into his personality. Along his body are several tattoos that each seem to tell a different story. Deciphering these tattoos could be the key to getting a better understanding of Law as a person.

One of Law’s most well-known sets of tattoos and the one many people see first is on his fingers. Each of his proximal phalanges has the letters D, E, A, T and H written on them to spell out “DEATH.” The meaning behind these tattoos is pretty simple; they're a reference to Law’s nickname as the “Surgeon of Death.” Whether the moniker or the tattoos came first remains a mystery, but it's clear that he takes pride in the idea behind them.

Another of Law’s set of tattoos with a slightly less obvious meaning is his Jolly Roger tattoos. He has the Heart Pirates’ unaltered Jolly Roger tattooed on his back and a slightly stylized version of it on his chest. Obviously, these tattoos represent the value he places on his pirate crew and his place as its captain, but there’s a little more to it than that.

Understanding the meaning behind this Jolly Roger requires a more in-depth understanding of Law's background. Years before the start of One Piece, a young, terminally ill Law was taken in by the Donquixote Pirates; while there, he developed a strong bond with one of the crew’s Elite Officers, Corazon.

Corazon ends up sacrificing his life to get Law the Op-Op Fruit so Law can use its power to rid himself of his disease. One of Law’s last memories of Corazon is of him smiling. In order to honor his memory, not only is his pirate crew known as the Heart Pirates, but their Jolly Roger has a smiling face at its center.

It’s also worth noting that the Heart Pirates’ Jolly Roger bears a striking resemblance to that of the Donquixote Pirates. The latter crew has their smiley faces crossed out. The resemblance between the two Jolly Rogers could be taken to represent Law’s past connection with the Donquixote Pirates. It could also be interpreted as an insult toward the crew’s captain, Donquixote Doflamingo. The latter would make sense, as Law blames Doflamingo for the death of Corazon and has sworn vengeance upon him.

Law also has several heart-shaped tattoos on each of his shoulders and his chest that can be interpreted in many different ways. The most obvious would be that they’re indicative of the Heart Pirates. They could also be used to represent Corazon, whose name is Spanish for the heart; this would explain the heart tattoo with its Jolly Roger likeness on Law’s chest. The heart shape could also represent the Op-Op Fruit, which is shaped like a heart. Whatever the reason, the heart motif seems to be a big part of Law’s character.

There are a couple more noteworthy tattoos on Law’s forearms and the backs of his hands, although their meanings aren’t clear. The tattoos on his forearms are shaped like spur gears with something resembling the outline of the Heart Pirates’ Jolly Roger in the middle of them. The latter shape has been interpreted as a stylized steering wheel. The tattoos on the backs of his hands also look like steering wheels in the shapes of crosses. For now, the meaning behind these tattoos is up to the interpretation of the fans. For all anyone knows, they represent the daily grind of pirates struggling to survive in the world.

Law's tattoos, besides a couple of outliers, say a lot about the Heart Pirates captain. They seem to indicate a value in trust, companionship and cheerfulness not often seen in the character or how he carries himself. However, he might not be too quick to admit this; he seems to take too much pride in his notoriety as a pirate for that.

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