The nation of Russia has undergone dramatic transformations in the past decade, and those metamorphoses have been starkly reflected in its infamous prisons. Home to the second highest prison population per capita in the world after only USA, who also claims the dubious title of most overall prisoners , the Russian penal system is a sprawling, underfunded and corrupt para-society rich in its own laws and rituals, none perhaps more arcane and elaborate than their tattoo culture…. Baldayev spent over 30 years documenting and translating some 3, tattoos while working as a prison guard in the notorious St. Rougher and less defined than the clean lines and vibrant colors found in western commercial tattooing, Russian prison tattoos vary greatly even from their American criminal counterparts. Still practiced today, and even in some U. Sometime around , Stalin promised freedom to prison inmates across the Soviet empire in return for military service.
Russian Criminal Tattoo Police Files is published by FUEL These trousers are the uniform of the strictest type of prison regime in the Soviet Union. Epaulettes with three stars or skulls mean: 'I am not a slave of the camps, no one can The words above his waist reads 'I fuck poverty and misfortune'. Soviet prisoners had a secret language – tattoos. three volumes of Baldaev's drawings in the Russian Criminal Tattoo A lot of these guys knew they would never be released from prison, The first tattoo read: Khrushchev's Slave. Bearing this meant being an untouchable, and subject to the sexual.
Between and , during his career as a prison guard, Danzig Baldaev made over 3, drawings of tattoos. They were his gateway into a secret world in which he acted as ethnographer, recording the rituals of a closed society.
Russian mafia tattoos on Sketch's Confinement Ink (Tattoo Fixers)
Danzig Baldaev grew up in a Russian children's home, his father having been denounced as an enemy of the people. He was later ordered to take a job as a warden in Kresty, an infamous Leningrad prison, where he worked from to It was a job that allowed Baldaev to continue his father's work as an ethnographer — by documenting the tattoos of criminals.