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, adding that 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. His newest piece published in National Geographic on October 24, 2016 can be read by clicking This Remote Pakistani Village Is Nothing Like You’d Expect by Matthieu Paley
“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; Last updated: October 25, 2016.
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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: