Just found an amazingly site about Russian mafia tattoos. I keep on thinking about tattoo designs, and I like the images of power and fear in Russian images. There is something rather different about Russia, especially with the mix of Asian and European imagery and developing a new beautiful style. Their tattoos aren't the tear drop symbols of murder or other images I associate with British and western criminality.
The particularly skinny nature of them is due to malnourishment, quite a contrast from the muscle madness of my stereotype vision of a prisoner. Many of these individuals had torturous past lives and their tattoos are testament to this. Pornography, politics, alcohol, violence and religion all feature in the motifs depicted. I like the grim reality Sergei produces.
Sergei Vasiliev a prison warden, alongside other prison wardens and ethnographer Danzing Badaev compiled thousands of drawings and photos from 1948 to 2005. Supported by the KGB they produced a beautiful collection of images showing an amazing aspect of Russian history that would have likely been forgotten. In 2003, The publisher fuel, compiled these images in the Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia. I hope you enjoy the images.