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This is the second volume of the Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia trilogy. Danzig Baldaev's unparallelled ethnographic achievement, documenting more than 3,000 tattoo drawings, was made during a lifetime working as a prison guard.
His recording of this esoteric world was reported to the KGB, who unexpectedly supported him, realizing the importance of being able to establish facts about convicts by reading the images on their bodies. The motifs depicted represent the uncensored lives of the criminal classes, ranging from violence and pornography to politics and alcohol.
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.
Sergei Vasiliev's graphic photographs show the grim reality of the Russian prison system and some of the alarming characters that inhabit it, while the illustrated criminals of Russia tell the tale of their closed society.
This volume, the second in the trilogy, includes an introduction by Anne Applebaum, winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize.