Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Ethiopia's Saint by Cyril le Tourneur d’Ison

© Cyril le Tourneur d’Ison/LightMediation-All Rights Reserved

From the Lightmediation Photo Agency comes this very interesting photo story by photographer Cyril le Tourneur d’Ison. It's this kind of photographic storytelling that merges ethnography and religious traditions which interest me the most in travel photography, and this subject matter is particularly captivating because it's virtually least to me.

The sacred remote shrine of Sheikh Hussein is in the desert of Bale Province in south-eastern part Ethiopia. Similar to the marabouts of Morocco, or the Sufi saints in India and Pakistan, Sheikh Hussein was renowned for his miraculous powers. For the past 700 years, his shrine has become the site one of Ethiopia's most extraordinary pilgrimages where on a bi-annual basis, up to 50,000 pilgrims, most coming from Ethiopia's remote villages, make an arduous journey to pray at the shrine.

The more I come into contact (either directly myself or through the work of other photographers) with all kinds of religious traditions, the more I realize that all are similar. The above photograph shows pilgrims prostrating themselves on the way to the shrine, reminding me of the Tibetans doing the same around the Potala Palace, on the way to Mount Kailash or circumbulating the Swayambunath stupa in Kathmandu.

It's a real shame that the photographs are not displayed in higher resolution, but I suppose it is what it is because of Issuu's high compression. It's even a greater shame that this photo essay is not produced as an audio slideshow!

To open the document, click on the page below: