Olivier Galibert: Ismaili Portraits from Tajikistan

Olivier Galibert of France spent three weeks in Tajikistan in July 2010 to participate in a caving expedition in the Pamir and visited Rangkul Skaja, the 5th highest cave in the world at 4600 m. He met many people along the way in the Wakhan corridor, the Panj valley and Murghab, and took their portrait photos with his D700 nikon + 28-70 F2,8 – “no models, just people I met on the street.” Simerg, with his kind permission, is pleased to publish a selection of his portraits that are specifically of Ismailis.

The Wakhan Corridor is commonly used as a synonym for Wakhan, an area of far north-eastern Afghanistan which forms a land link or “corridor” between Afghanistan and China. The Corridor is a long and slender panhandle or salient, roughly 140 miles (220 km) long and between 10 and 40 miles (16 and 64 km) wide. It separates Tajikistan in the north from Pakistan in the south. The map also shows the Panj River. It is a tributary of the Amu Darya. The river is 1,125 km long and forms a considerable part of the Afghanistan – Tajikistan border. Map and caption: Wikipedia.

Galibert says in his Flickr account that he wants the viewers to enjoy his photographs as much as he has enjoyed taking them, adding that he had “some incredible experiences while I got all these portraits, smiles, faces… I don’t remember all the teas I have shared neither all the meals.” He notes quite humbly that even if a picture appears to be perfect in everyone’s opinion, that to him is only the tip of the iceberg – meeting people are his richest experiences. “I just want to have some fun with picture and share my experiences,” adds Galibert.

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Picture of an old Ismaili lady in the Wakhan Corridor,  where the population is primarily Ismaili . She has a colourful scarf. Photo: Galibert Olivier’s Flickr photostream. Copyright.

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Picture of an old Ismaili lady in the Wakhan Corridor, near Afghanistan. She has a colourful scarf. Photo: Galibert Olivier’s Flickr photostream. Copyright.

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An Ismaili woman in the Wakhan Corridor. Photo: Galibert Olivier’s Flickr photostream. Copyright.

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A young Ismaili girl in the grass-fields in the Wakhan corridor on the Tajikistan side. Photo: Galibert Olivier’s Flickr photostream. Copyright. Please click for enlargement.

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A panoramic view of the Pamir mountains near Jirghitol in Tajikistan. Photo: Galibert Olivier’s Flickr photostream. Copyright. Click for enlargement.

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A typical face from the Wakhan corridor where the population is primarily Ismaili. Photo: Galibert Olivier’s Flickr photostream. Copyright.

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An Ismaili lady in the Panj Valley. Photo: Galibert Olivier’s Flickr photostream. Copyright.

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Ishakashim, Tajikistan, which His Highness the Aga Khan first visited in 1995. Photo: Galibert Olivier’s Flickr photostream. Copyright.

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Ishkashim, 27 May 1995: His Highness the Aga Khan’s stage may appear to be at a distant, but for thousands of Ismailis his presence amongst them glittered their hearts and souls with happiness and joy. Photo: Special Issue of The Ismaili (Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Visit to Central Asia, 22 – 31 May 1995).

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An Ismaili girl in Murghab, Tajikistan. Photo: Galibert Olivier’s Flickr photostream. Copyright.

His Highness the Aga Khan in Murghab on 26 May 1995. He told his audience of Ismaili and non-Ismaili Muslims: “Today, the Ummah is constituted of hundreds of millions of Muslims and who are bound by their faith – the Shahada, ‘La-illaha-Ilallah Muhammadur Rasullillah’ – and yet, who over centuries have come to live in different climates, speak different languages and who differentiate in some interpretations of their faith.” Photo and caption: Special Issue of The Ismaili (Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Visit to Central Asia, 22 – 31 May 1995).

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A Wakhi Ismaili girl in Tajikistan. Photo: Galibert Olivier’s Flickr photostream. Copyright.

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A young Ismaili girl in the Panj Valley of Tajikistan. Photo: Galibert Olivier’s Flickr photostream. Copyright.

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….And one from Hunza

Young girl near Altit, Hunza. “I was walking, and she played, making sand chapattis. Sand is still on her hands.” Photo: Galibert Olivier’s Flickr photostream. Copyright. Click for enlargement.

Date posted: Sunday, June 10, 2012.

Photos by Galibert Olivier are copyright.

Please visit his Flickr photostream by clicking Galibert Olivier.

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Please also visit the following pages:
A Western Correspondent’s Account of the Aga Khan’s Historic First Visit to His Followers in Gorno-Badakhshan
Photo  Gallery: Ismaili Portraits From Tajikistan (I) by Ali M. Rajput
Henry Dallal: Portraits from the Hindu Kush
Matthieu Paley: Journey to the Roof of the World

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5 thoughts on “Olivier Galibert: Ismaili Portraits from Tajikistan

  1. We have a very rich heritage and you are doing a great job of presenting this to the jamats all over the world and in the sands of time and memory. I don’t think my ancestors were ever aware of this colorful fabric of the jamat. I think the Ismailies living in this corridor should also be shown the pictures of the jamats living in the other parts of the world including the so called developed world.

  2. Very nice pictures from different valleys of Tajikistan.
    Sulaiman Shah
    Gilgit-Baltistan
    Pakistan

  3. Very colourful pictures and what beautiful smiles on their faces! Thanks for sharing.

    Rashida Kanji,
    Toronto, Ontario

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