The photographs, drawings and texts published here are part of a collection of 3.600 tattoos collected over thirty three years in St Petersburg's notorious Kresty prison by attendant Danzig Baldayev. He acknowledges the tattoos as his entrance into a secret world, where he became something as an ethnographer, setting down the ways of a closed society. The tattoos are artful, distasteful, sexually explicit and sometimes simply strange, reflecting as they do the lives and mores of convicts. There are skulls with swastikas, naked women, a smiling Al Capone, assorted demons, medieval knights in armor, daggers and blood, benign images of Christ, mosques and minarets, sweet-faced mothers and babies, tanks and a horned Lenin. Once the criminal language and tattoos were the code of a restricted world, then the world of the criminal became open and their language was diffused into society, but the tattoos remain the secret part.