Created By: sgamer82 on June 27, 2010 Last Edited By: sgamer82 on June 28, 2010
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Slave Brand

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Hippy: That's a cool symbol on your head, man. What's it mean? Peace?
Teal'c: It symbolizes slavery. Under false gods.
Hippy: ...right on, man.
Essentially the idea that when you're a slave, you need something to show it.

This trope centers on the times when a character who either is or was a slave bears some mark that sets them apart from other people. Most frequently this is either a burnt on brand, a tattoo, or even a serial number. Current slaves can also be marked by something as simple as a collar.

Often, a slave who has been freed will have this mark removed or, if that is not possible, altered. Another option is for them to display this mark openly, as if daring someone to comment.

Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • In One Piece, slaves of the World Nobility are marked on their backs with the "Hoof of the Soaring Dragon." This brand is meant to impress upon them the fact that they are less than human. A group of slaves who were freed and became pirates altered this mark into one resembling a sun, which everyone on the crew, slave or not, adopted to remove the distinction of freeman and ex-slave.
    • Nami's Arlong tattoo could also be viewed as this. Nami herself certainly saw it that way. After she had stabbed out the tattoo, she had a new one put in its place resembling a pinwheel with a tangerine growing from it, to honor her adopted parents.

Comic Books
  • DC Comics: Grace of The Outsiders was a slave before her powers manifested. Although she has covered much of it with tattoos, her brand remains.
    • Arsenal's daughter, Lian, shares the same brand, having been kidnapped by the same slave trafficker as Grace had.

Literature
  • In the Honor Harrington universe, genetic slaves are marked with their identification number on their tongues. The ex-slave terrorists of the Audubon Ballroom have made it their trademark to stick their tongues way out to show off these marks to the slavers they kill.
  • Since, on paper, a person's time as a slave is supposed to be temporary, slaves in the Codex Alera wear leather collars. This is the lesser of two evils, as the next step up are metal discipline collars which can only be removed by the one who put it on and cause pain or pleasure depending on if the slave follows orders.
  • Common on Gor. Slaves most commonly get the same stylized "K", called kef, standing for Kajira (or, very rarely Kajirus).
    • Brands are occasionally used for other purposes - the Caste of Thieves brands their members with a small mark on the cheek, for example. Qualius the blind Kaissa player has a kef on his forehead, but that was because of torture, not slavery.

Live-Action TV
  • The Jaffa of Stargate SG-1 have a mark either tattooed or branded onto their foreheads. The appearance of the mark is determined by which Goa'uld they serve.
  • Discussed in an episode of Kung Fu: Caine is staying with a black family. The father (who had been in favor of throwing him out because he didn't want trouble with the town) sees Caine's arm brands and assumes they're slave brands, since he (the father) had been branded when he was a slave. He asks Caine if he's a runaway slave.
    Caine: I am a priest.
    Caleb: If you're a priest then who put those brands on you?
    Caine: I did.
    Caleb: It's a foolish thing for a man to put brands on himself. I'd give anything to be rid of mine.
    Caine: And I to keep mine.
  • Doctor Who: Companion Turlough had a brand. [1]

Truth in Television
  • The numbers tattooed on the arms of Nazi concentration camp inmates. Not necessarily used to mark them as slaves but to keep track who each one was.
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • June 27, 2010
    Discar
    • Stargate SG-1 had an interesting discussion when the team was trapped in the 70s (long story):
      Hippy: That's a cool symbol on your head, man. What's it mean? Peace?
      Teal'c: It symbolizes slavery. Under false gods.
      Hippy: ...right on, man.
  • June 27, 2010
    Game_Fan
    • Common on Gor. All slaves get the same stylized "K", called kef, standing for Kajira (or, very rarely Kajirus).
  • June 27, 2010
    Wulf
    See also Mark Of Shame.
  • June 27, 2010
    Lysythe
    DC Comics: Grace of the Outsiders was a slave before her powers manifested. Although she has covered much of it with tattoos, her brand remains. Arsenal's daughter, Lian, shares the same brand, having been kidnapped by the same slave trafficker as Grace had.
  • June 27, 2010
    randomsurfer
    @Game_Fan: actually not all slaves get the kef brand on Gor, it's just the most common brand, although all slaves are branded. And brands are occasionally used for other purposes - the Caste of Thieves brands their members with a small mark on the cheek, for example. Qualius the blind Kaissa player has a kef on his forehead, but that was because of torture, not slavery.

    Discussed in an episode of Kung Fu: Caine is staying with a black family. The father (who had been in favor of throwing him out because he didn't want trouble with the town) sees Caine's arm brands and assumes they're slave brands, since he (the father) had been branded when he was a slave. He asks Caine if he's a runaway slave.
    Caine: I am a priest.
    Caleb: If you're a priest then who put those brands on you?
    Caine: I did.
    Caleb: It's a foolish thing for a man to put brands on himself. I'd give anything to be rid of mine.
    Caine: And I to keep mine.
  • June 27, 2010
    Fanra
    Real Life: The numbers tattooed on the arms of Nazi concentration camp inmates. Not necessarily used to mark them as slaves but to keep track who each one was.
  • June 27, 2010
    randomsurfer
    Doctor Who: Companion Turlough had a brand. [1]
  • June 27, 2010
    HeroicJay
    Red XIII has something kind of like that in his "XIII" tattoo. He was a research specimen; not much different from slavery, though I doubt Hojo would call it that.
  • June 27, 2010
    TheBigSock
    Some more Truth In Television: In ancient Israelite society, a Hebrew could only be the slave of another Hebrew for six years, and then he was to be released. If the slave refused to be released he was to have a part of his ear removed as a sign for someone who refused to be free.
  • June 28, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    @Discar, it was 1969 @Fanra, and sometimes it determined their classification
  • June 28, 2010
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • The l'Cie in Final Fantasy XIII all bear brands indicating which Fal'Cie they serve. It's also a Mark Of Shame because if you're an l'Cie to a Pulse Fal'Cie, you become hated by the people of your home planet.
    • The "M" for Mutant is very close to being a mark of slavery in some of the Marvel Universes.
    • And the funky sigils worn by humans marks them as slaves to vampires in the Blade movies.
  • June 28, 2010
    foxley
    In the French comic Le Scorpion, all of the prostitutes in one town were branded with a 'P' by order of the local bishop.
  • June 28, 2010
    LillyS
    The mark of slavery for house elves at Harry Potter is a pillowcase worn on the head. (Chamber of Secrets, Dobby's visit to Harry after the Quidditch accident.)
  • June 28, 2010
    TooBah
    Robin Hobb's Live Ship trilogy has all slaves marked with tattoos, showing to whom they have belonged.
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