Russian Prison Tattoos : Codes of Authority, Domination and Struggle, Paperback Book

Russian Prison Tattoos : Codes of Authority, Domination and Struggle Paperback

5 out of 5 (1 rating)


For centuries, Russian prison inmates forcibly initiated newcomers with tattoos.

Gradually, prisoners developed a secret form of communication with their tattoos, allowing them to establish rank among the other inmates and maintain a clandestine hierarchy.

This book explores the grisly reality of Russian prisons and the people who inhabit them.

Over 190 black and white and color photographs expose the different tattoos and their meanings, ranging from churches, crosses, Christs, Madonnas, military symbols, cats, dolphins, bears, hawks, and other startling images.

Documentary filmmaker Alix Lambert traveled around modern Russia to film these sinister environments, collected stories to identify the dying art of tattooing in Russian prisons, and detailed the lives of the heavily marked inmates, past and present.

This fascinating, spine-tingling book provides an entirely new outlook on tattoos and what they can represent!


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 160 pages, 192 color photos
  • Publisher: Schiffer Publishing Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Body art & tattooing
  • ISBN: 9780764317644



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This book makes more sense in conjunction with the documentary "The Mark of Cain". Most of the text in the book are excerpts from the film. The photos are stills of the subjects in the documentary. I found the film to be fascinating, and the book a very nice complement to the film. Definitely worth a look for those who haven't see it before, and are interested in this subject.

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