Saturday, 7 June 2008

Petrut Calinescu: Egypt

Photograph © Petrut Calinescu-All Rights Reserved

Petrut Calinescu is a freelance photojournalist member of Panos Pictures, and is working from Bucharest in Romania. His photographs appeared in AP, AFP, Reuters, New York Times, Der Spiegel, National Geographic and a host of other international publications.

Take a look at Petrut's work in Egypt, and specifically his photo essay on the camel market near Cairo. The market is called Birkas, and is the largest of its kind in has been in existence for as long as camels have been used for transport. It's certainly not as colorful as the Pushkar Camel fair, and it's not a place for camera-wielding tourists.

The first time I became aware of camel traders was years ago in Khartoum...where I saw many dusty camel traders with some of their herd just ambling down the streets of the Sudanese capital. It was there that I was told of the ancient camel route that traverses Sudan into Egypt.

Again, a few years back, I was interested in joining an expedition which would travel a section of the darb al-arbaeen (translated as the route of 40 days) from the south of Egypt to its capital Cairo. This ancient route -used since antiquity- was an important trade and pilgrimage "highway", and was used by spice, slave, camel traders as well as pilgrims from West Africa on their way to Mecca, and kings and princes visiting Egypt. Its importance has dwindled, but I understand that traditional camel caravans still use it.

Here's the website of Petrut Calinescu.