Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Dario Mitidieri | Calabria's Holy Blood

Photo © Dario Mitidieri-All Rights Reserved

In villages of the region of Calabria (southern Italy), the Rito dei Vattienti (or Rite of the Beaters) is an annual religious event dating back to 1473. It's during the event that devout Catholics flagellate themselves during a procession, carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary.

The flagellation is a manifestation of extreme religiosity, and is performed as means of cleansing one's soul. The tool used to draw blood is called "cardo"; a paddle made of cork is embedded with shards of glass, and is used to by the Vattienti's to beat their thighs and legs during the procession, while another piece of cork is used to cleanse the wounds. The flowing blood is then washed off to the streets with red wine.

Dario Mitidieri is an Italian photographer, currently based in London where he studied photojournalism and works as freelance. 


His major photographic assignments include: the plight of the Kampuchean refugees in Thailand; the Tiananmen Square massacre; German reunification; the cyclone in Bangladesh; the fall of the communist regime in Albania; the destruction of the Ayodhya Mosque in India and the subsequent communal violence in Bombay; Ayrton Senna’s last race; the refugee crisis in Rwanda; the Kobe earthquake in Japan; "children at war" in former Yugoslavia, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Angola; Charismatic Evangelism in the USA, England, India and Korea; the last Masaai in Kenya; the fall of Baghdad and the mass graves of Iraq; the aftermath on the Tsunami in Indonesia.


In 1992 he spent the whole year in Bombay documenting the lives of street children, and produced his book Children of Bombay (1994) which was translated into six languages.

His photograph of a young girl street acrobat in Bombay (from the above mentioned book) was featured as the cover for the magnificent novel A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry which is set between 1975 and 1984 during the turmoil of The Emergency, a period of expanded government power and crackdowns on civil liberties in India.