These photos of Russian prisoners' tattoos are amazing ....... better than anything you see these days, IMHO. They were photographed in the early 1990s. The detail is wonderful: see the last photo on the page, the fringe on the 'epaulette' is so painstakingly done. Each of the designs signifies something in the prisoners' code.
They are from an exhibition in the Saatchi Gallery in London entitled: 'Gaiety is the Most Outstanding Feature of the Soviet Union'. The exhibition runs until 5th May 2013.
I find most tats vulgar.. but that's just me..
I think of them in terms of advertising, lol.. Kind of like advertising about one's inner self.. imo, tatoo's are vulgar in the sense that they're egotistically advertising one's self.. even people who have the "hidden butterfly" or things like that are basically advertising a hidden meaning of self.. which seems pointless really..
Some used to be marks of honour though, like the maori Muku.. It was a face tatoo that displayed tribal chiefdom & and honour of elders.. but nowadays anyone can get a muku, so the old meaning is lost.. Historically though, when one saw an elder with a muku, one gave that person all the respect they deserved..