Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Jeremy Suyker | House of Strength

Photo © Jeremy Suyker - All Rights Reserved
I was introduced to this extremely interesting work recently featured as Editor's Choice on Maptia, and it's from a region I have rarely covered on this blog: Iran.

House of Strength is the body of monochromatic work by photographer Jeremy Suyker, and is about the pahlevani; the traditional Persian system of athletics originally used to train warriors that combines martial arts, calisthenics, strength training and music.

Wikipedia describes it as also merging elements of pre-Islamic Persian culture (particularly Zoroastrianism, Mithraism and Gnosticism) with the spirituality of Shia Islam and Sufism. The traditional gymnasium in which this type of wrestling is practiced is known as the zurkhaneh, or house of strength.

The implements used by the pahlevani are a pair of wooden clubs, a bow, a shield and a bar.

The Persian pahlevani influenced the virtual identical traditional wrestling practiced in India known as Pehlwani or Kusti. This wrestling style was developed during the Mughal Empire by combining native wrestling techniques and the Persian pahlevani. I've photographed the pehlwan wrestlers in Delhi, Varanasi and Kolkata, and the styles seem very similar.

Jeremy Suyker is a French photographer and reporter specialized in sociocultural issues. He reported on the aftermath of the Sri Lankan civil war, and on the historical changes in Myanmar.

He has been to Iran on several occasions since 2013, and is pursuing personal projects around the Black Sea region, Central Asia and Istanbul. His works can be found in publications like Geo, Washington Post, Newsweek Japan, Der Spiegel, L’Equipe magazine, Le Temps, Figaro, 6Mois, l’Actualité, A/R magazine and Vice.