'A unique social document recording a now disappearing sub-culture. The criminals inhabit as desperate a nether world as you are likely to come across. A hipnotic aspect of art and words. ' - Index
This second volume of the Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia is an essential companion to the critically acclaimed first volume. It features previously unpublished drawings and photographs from the extraordinary archives of Danzig Baldaev and Sergei Vasiliev.
During his lifetime as a guard in St Petersburg's notorious Kresty Prison, Baldaev diligently recorded over 3,000 criminals' tattoos and their coded meanings. His drawings form a unique gallery; a passport into a hidden world of shovel-faced politicians, fornicating devils, messages tangled in barbed wire. Tattoos on hands, feet, legs, torsos, foreheads, eyelids, buttocks and genitals all take their place in this fascinating document of a rapidly disappearing criminal society, where history, status and even sexual preference are indelibly etched on the body.
Introduction by Anne Applebaum, winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize.
This completely mind-blowing book told us what the tattoos meant, and how they could become central to the movie. -- David Cronenberg. Director, Eastern Promises (2007)