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In Stargate, the Jaffa have a tattoo for the shape of the Goa'uld they serve. Some Jaffa have Gold ones that appear to be some kind of implant, while others just have a black one. It seems in general that the warriors have the gold version, while the lesser personal only have a black one, but I can't quite figure out what the exact pattern is. Anyone have an authoritative source?

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It has to do with rank.

The Stargate wiki has, in the article about Jaffa Marks:

All Jaffa have a mark on their foreheads signifying the Goa'uld they are in service to. For most Jaffa, the mark is simple black ink. However, higher ranked Jaffa can be given more ornate, ostentatious tattoos. Jaffa in high standing have been known to be marked by a silver tattoo (for example Fro'tak), and the First Prime to a Goa'uld are given the gold embossed mark of their respective god.

So gold is the higher ranked, but some have silver as well to show high standing.

  • 1
    It seems like there are more gold ones than there are first primes... – PearsonArtPhoto Mar 22 '12 at 2:37
  • @Pearsonartphoto: I would think that's because it's "higher ranked," in other words, that would include the First Prime, but not limit it to that group. (While that talks about the ornateness, I think, from what I remember, it would apply to the gold as well, but I can't be 100% on that -- 10 years of episodes is a lot to keep track of!) I don't remember seeing Jaffa with Silver tattoos when I watched the series. – Tango Mar 22 '12 at 2:45
  • @TangoOversway I had to look up Fro'tak as well - I think it had enough of a gold tinge that I never thought of it as silver. And Teal'c only ever described his own mark as being made of molten gold being poured into the the cut open skin. – Izkata Mar 22 '12 at 3:12
  • @Pearsonartphoto Non-Teal'c Jaffa are like Red Shirts, and there are a ton of Goa'uld out there. – user1027 Mar 22 '12 at 3:14
  • @Pearsonartphoto SG-1 tended to interact with the Jaffa leaders, which means a lot of First Primes. And Bra'tak was once first prime, but wasn't killed when Teal'c took the role (despite Apophis's temperament), so it seems likely that more mellow System Lords would have bloodless transitions even more often. – Izkata Mar 22 '12 at 3:15
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The leader of a Goa'uld's Jaffas have the title of First Prime. That First Prime is the Jaffa with the gold emblem. All other Jaffa under that Goa'uld have the black tattoos. When a Jaffa is made the First Prime, the symbol for their Goa'uld is carved into their forehead, then molten gold is poured into the wounds, which grants the gold coloring.

Teal'c described the process early in SG-1. You can read more on First Primes at the Stargate Wiki.

  • +1 for mentioning the process. And I believe it's the only time the substance it's made from has ever been mentioned - AFAIK, the black marks aren't necessarily ink. Could be a discoloration of the skin itself by way of some technology. – Izkata Mar 22 '12 at 3:17

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