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.
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