A dagger through the neck means killing a man in jail while rings on the fingers show the rank of an inmate, even when the rest of the body is covered. A cat stands for a thief and a mermaid signifies a child molester. Russian hand made prison tattoos were forbidden by the establishment but widely diffused and bear strong symbolic meanings. They define the status and the “prestige” of a criminal and are the key to understand the hidden language of prisons’ secret society. Sergei Vasiliev working for the soviet newspaper “Vecherny Chelyabinsk” has photographed hundreds of inked criminals. This body of work is published “Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopedia” and the images in this gallery are going to be for auction in Milano at The Square Hotel, Via Albricci 2/4 on May 5th at 4:00pm and online at maisonbibelot.com.