PORTRAITS OF THE ISMAILIS
“Far, in a remote land, after days of travels, you get dropped off and then you start walking. You isolate yourself to find loneliness, to give a stronger meaning to human relations. You roam at the edges of a world you can only pass by but not live in. Yet, it lures you again and again, giving you the strength only freedom can deliver.”
Matthieu Paley is an intrepid explorer and an award winning photographer. He says he has been working alongside Ismailis in Northern Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan for several years now. He says these regions are his favorite places in the world. Simerg is deeply indebted to him for sending us a collection of his photos for publication on this Web site.
Once you have viewed the photos on this page, please visit his Web site Paley Photo, where he says many of the portraits in the stories Pamiristan I, The End of the Corridor, and Hunza – A World Away are those of the Ismailis. For the last 10 years, Matthieu’s assignments have taken him all over Asia, resulting in worldwide publications in magazines such as National Geographic Adventure, Geo, Geographical, Discovery etc. He has published book on Siberia and Mongolia. He is a regular lecturer for the Asia Society and the Royal Geographical Society.
Recently, he expanded into the world of fine art, finding the elements that unify his work. To inquire about purchasing limited editions, archival prints on paper or canvas, please contact info(at)paleyphoto.com. Photos of his most recent exhibition, An Ethereal World – Journeys to the edges of Asia can be viewed at Ethereal World as well as on his Web site, click on the “Fine art Print” link. Additionally, to find out more about his guiding services in this remote parts of Asia, please visit www.pamirknot.com
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please click photos for enlargement.
“HAPPY ISMAILI PEOPLE”
The first photo shown below by Matthieu Paley was taken in Alichur (shown on map, above), a village at an altitude of 4000 metres which is comprised mainly of Ismailis. It is located on the Pamir Highway south of Murghab in the Gorno Badakshan Autonomous Region of Southeastern Tajikistan. The photo was taken during Didar (Invitation) – a celebration that takes place on 28th of May every year to commemorate the anniversary of the Aga Khan’s visit to the village in the 1990s. During the celebrations the villagers dress up, dance outdoors to the accordion and drums and sing ginane (religious songs), which tell of him being their Noor (light). The photograph was taken as these girls, dressed in bright atlas silk fabric with crowns on their heads, were going out to dance. In this region, as in other parts of the world, Ismailis hold a deep reverence for their Imam, the direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). Pictures of the 49th Imam adorn most Ismaili homes. The Aga Khan and his Imamat Institutions and Agencies play a key role in the community’s survival and development throughout the world.
Article publication date: August 15, 2010
Latest article on Web site (August 18, 2010):
Matthieu Paley’s Web site: Click Paley Photo.
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Please click the following image for portraits of the Ismailis of the Hindu Kush by Henry Dallal, another world acclaimed photographer: