Criminal Tattoo Grin


Professional criminals in the camps used their tattoos as a marker of their status. This sketch of a former Vorkuta convict's "grin" tattoo reveals that he is an experienced prisoner, having survived some of the toughest camps. It shows that he had passed through five corrective labor colonies from 1947 to 1963. The tattoo was made in 1962, the year before he was released. It also juxtaposes the grotesquely sexualized image with a text that recalls the Gulag's propaganda. The text reads "Greetings from the Vorkuta camps! 1947-1963. In the USSR labor is a matter of honor, valor and glory! Shelyabozh, Eletsky, Izhma, Kozhma, Khalmer-South."



Bibliographic Citation

Baldayev, Danzig. Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopedia.NP: Steidl, 2004.