Sunday, 7 December 2014

Đạo Cao Đài | Tewfic El-Sawy

Readers of this blog know of my documentary interest in syncretic religions wherever these are observed, and Đạo Cao Đài is certainly one of those.

I've just featured Đạo Cao Đài : All Religions Are The Same on the Exposure platform, with over a very large dozen monochrome photographs made at Hue's Cao Đài temple. The photo shoot was held during my 2012 photo expedition-workshop in Vietnam. Although we were warmly welcomed to the temple by the devotees and clergy, it was somewhat hard to photograph because of the temple's columns and of the contrasting light.

In terms of number of adherents to Cao Đài, the religion is quite small with an estimated 3-6 million people following it in Vietnam and elsewhere. It was founded in 1926 by Ngo Van Chieu who claimed to have received a calling from a supreme deity during a seance.

The religion and its philosophy draws upon ethical precepts from Confucianism, occult practices from Taoism, theories of karma and rebirth from Buddhism, and a hierarchical organization (including a pope) from Roman Catholicism. Its pantheon of saints includes such diverse figures as the Buddha, Confucius, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Pericles, Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, Victor Hugo, and Sun Yat-sen.

The headquarters of Cao Đài are at Tay Ninh, near Ho Chi Minh City.