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Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia Hardcover – December, 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Hardcover, December, 2003
$15.98 $2.52

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A book that uncovers a secret language of the body that existed long before hipsters discovered primitivism. -- Flash Art

About the Author

Baldaev was born in 1925 in Ulan-Ude, Buryatiya, Russia.

Vasiliev was born in 1936 in Chelyabinsk, Russia. After graduating from the MVD Academy, Moscow, he became a staff photographer. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Steidl (December 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3882439203
  • ISBN-13: 978-3882439205
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #393,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Every now and then a book comes out that illuminates a part of the world that was not only previously hidden but which could not even be imagined. Such a work is the _Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia_ (Steidl / Fuel), featuring mostly the drawings of tattoos by Danzig Baldaev, with photos by Sergei Vasiliev, and an explanatory essay by Alexei Plutser-Sarno. In these photos and tattoos, which I guarantee you are like nothing you have ever seen before, are reflected the horrors of Russia written on the skins of criminals. As strange as the pictures are, they are not so foreign as to eliminate sadness and tragedy; this is a book of devastation on many levels, and anyone flipping through the images will be enlightened about a very distant world, but also will be distressed and mystified.
The majority of pages are Danzig Baldaev's drawings of tattoos he has collected during a lifetime as a prison attendant. The book could not be published before, but Baldaev has brought it out now as a protest of the "long time all of us lived under the leadership of villains, tricksters, and bandits." There are what are called "legitimate thieves" in Russia. They represent a robber caste, criminals who have their own code of laws and obey it. It is in some part hereditary; there are tattoos here that proclaim proudly "My father was a thief." The legitimate thieves have a strict hierarchy that extends inside and out of prison, and are reputed to have representatives in all levels of the government and police. They have special control of life in "the zone", the prison camps, where most of the tattoos are applied. The tattoos are a type of uniform and a service record. In prison slang, someone's tattoos are known as his (or her) "tail coat with medals.
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Format: Hardcover
I lived in Moscow for five years and had heard about criminal tattoos but had never seen any. This book was a fascinating, but depressing view of a completely different world and world-view from that of the Russians I knew. If you understand Russian and something of Russian culture the book is extremely interesting, but interesting even if you don't. My only complaint is that the tattoos are fascinating but the book is relatively light on text.
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Format: Hardcover
When I bought this book, I flipped through the pages and looked at all the tattoos before reading anything. The tattoos were interesting enough, but I had to read the introduction to understand the culture that was molded wholly around the artwork itself. This encyclopedia gives a detailed account of what having a tattoo means in the culture of Russian prisoners. In many societies, tattoos mean very little. Many people get them on a whim, or go into a parlor knowing they want one, but not knowing what they want (probably a butterfly on her back, or a tribal band around his arm). This book explains how tattoos among Russian inmates serve as their resumes--who they are, what they've done, where they rank in the society, who they serve, how they feel about the state... the culture made possible by the tattoos is extremely fascinating, but you have to either be an inmate or read a book written by a credible source (read: this book) to find out about all the facets of it.
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Format: Hardcover
this is an excellent book for those interested in tattoo art from other countries. this book has a lot of sketches describing each tattoo and its meaning. it also has actual pictures of russian inmates with their facinating prison tattoos. i would not recomend this book for anyone under 18 since some of the tattoos/sketches of tattoos are extremely violent and pornograhic. But facinating at the same time.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this as part of research for a book I'm writing. I'm writing about a hockey player whose family is Russian. Don't know if they will have tatoos or not. Very detailed book and well worth the price. I have all three books in the series.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the last of the three volumes of Russian Criminal Tattoo, and it does not disappoint. The cover photo for this book was briefly featured in a Jose Cuervo commercial with Kiefer Sutherland (he was getting it tattooed on his chest).

As always: Very interesting tattoos with very interesting stories. You cannot own the first book without the other two. My wife originally bought me the first two books since the third one was out of print for some time. The next Christmas she got this book for me, and it was definitely worth it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My son-on-law is a graphics design professional artist and also has interest in tattoo design though he does not even have a single tattoo himself. These books were on his wish list and they complete the 3-book set. He loves them.
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By Unsacred82 on December 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My collection of Danzig's books are now complete and I will hold on to these until I die because I will be cremated and it's difficult to hold things without hands. Good for tattoos artist..... can start a wall of what tattoos not to get
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