Danzig Sergeyevich Baldaev –
(1925-2005)- a St. Petersburg police officer, a collector of prison tattoos and prison folklore. For some time he worked as a prison guard at St. Petersburg “Kresty”, because of his work he travelled the country a lot thus he visited many of the Soviet prison camps. In general, there is not very much information about him, there are different interviews and some other stuff, but there is a lot of contradicting information about his biography. According to some sources, he took part in World War II, according to the others, he was not there. The date of his birth also differs but most likely it's 1925. The only thing is known about him for sure, it is that he collected prison tattoos and which he gathered quite a lot. On the basis of his collection a few books were published- Tattoos of Prisoners and Russian criminal tattoo which appeared in English in three volumes.
Apparently there is not so much text in the book, mostly drawings. The remaining scans of the book can be viewed here.
The book is a gift signed and autographed by the author you can tell it is a rarity!
No less interesting tattoo from Baldaev’s collection was on the back of the famous St. Petersburg skinhead Dmitry Borovikov (killed during the arrest in May 2002nd). The tattoo of picture of Victor Vasnetsov "The Bogatyrs" which is more popularly known as the "Three Bogatyrs" was made in the salon as Dmitry was not tried.
The description of the tattoo made by Baldaev:
"Art tattoo of a thief in law, a major criminal authority, convicted before the Second World War under Art. 162, 167, 59 for theft, robbery, participation in a riot. In 1951, the carrier of the tattoo was convicted under the decree of ПВС (не нашла такого) from 04/06/47 for the twenty-five years in prison for theft of state property. Had nicknames: Lazo, Ivan Kolymski. The tattoo was made by prison camp artist in SCP 'Adygalah" in Kolyma. It was copied in the prison in city of Vladivostok. 1951"
An interesting fact, the picture of "The Bogatyrs" had being pained by Vasnetsov for almost 20 years!
Oderint dum metuant
An art thieves’ tattoo with an inscription in Latin Oderint dum metuant which means "Let them hate, as long as feared." This expression is used to describe the power or the ruler, who builds his power on fear of his subordinates. I've seen probably a dozen or more photos of Baldaye’s tattoos made in an American tattoo salon. I wrote an Email to the salon with a request to send me these photos for my blog. I received no answer, and after my letter all pictures of the tattoos have been removed. Later, I realized the reason of deleting all these photos. And it was so: a Russian who lives in the United States saw these photos and wrote to the owner of that salon for these tattoos are in demand and that if needed he would be found and so on. After that, I wrote a salon owner the request for photos for the blog, and I would even write the address of salon where they were made if necessary. Well, in general, he got scared and decided to delete everything in order not to have problems. Among those photos there was a picture of an epaulet tattoo. I hope one day they will appear again on the net and I'll post them here.
Owl with crowbar
Tattoo owl with crowbar possible mean night thief.
An interesting case happened with Baldaev’s tattoos in the UK. Clothing company called Chic Burton released a T-shirt with a picture of one of Baladaye’s tattoos. At the moment of printing of these products, no one knew what was written on the T-shirt. When they found it out,they immediately removed from sale all the T-shirts. And there was written "Let us clear out Russia of all non-Russians!"
Here is the tattoo
Copied to the CLC-9. 1999. The explanation of the tattoo’s carrier:"When I was free I worked as a turner. It was a bit cold in the workshop and I was wearing a black tank top. There was a Russian asshole in the workshop, an unskilled worker, when he saw me, he called out, "Hey you, Tatar, help to remove the motor from the car!" And I "helped" him - for insulting me, a Russian, a Tatar I punched him in the nose and broke his nose. I have the third category in boxing. I finished vocational school in Kazan and I couldn’t stand this nation - Tatars and Jews. Ivan the Terrible after occupation Kazan killed them all from the old to the infants. If I had a chance, I would sent them all to their Allah, and along with the Jews. It is necessary to clear all Russian lands: the Urals, Siberia, Russia."
And this is the T-shirt. Its price is 12?
It is hard to evaluate the contribution made by D. Baldaev. All the work he did in the prison camps copying the tattoos will have being discussed for a long time by experts and amateurs of prison painting and criminal subculture in general. His drawings is a chronicle of the Soviet era which took place on the other side of the fence. The material he managed to stamp on paper will be passed on from generation to generation, over the years, and perhaps even over centuries. Maybe one day his works will be included in the category of retro tattoo. As you can see from the photos, his paintings are already being made in the salons, and will continue to be made. I have not so many photos of Danzig Baldaev, in this article posted all the photos I could find.
P.S.: If anyone has any more of his pictures, please give me the link.P.S.S.: I will be filling up the article with new photos of Baldaev’s salon works as they become available.