The coconut is known for its great versatility as seen in the many culinary and nonculinary uses of its different parts and found throughout the tropics and subtropics; virtually every part of the coconut palm can be used by humans in some manner and has significant economic value. The coconuts' versatility is sometimes noted in its naming: (i) in Sanskrit, it is "the tree which provides all the necessities of life" aka kalpa vriksha, and (ii) in the Malay language, it is "the tree of a thousand uses" aka pokok seribu guna. Near Palu on Central Sulawesi lives a local artist who carves funny coconut heads, depicting his neighbours.
15 August 2011
24 June 2011
The back portrait aka "back shot" adds an additional perspective to the conventional front portrait, especially for street photography. The viewer of a front portrait looks at the subject from the outside, from the subject's dissociated point of view. The viewer of a back portrait looks at the world in an associated way, as if s/he is looking through the subject's eyes, into the subject's (...and the photographer's) visual world, and s/he is being seduced to play with the boundaries between internal and external expression. The vantage point from behind uncovers a long overlooked tradition of portraiture that flirts with the power of identification and mystery…
As much as the front can give away a person’s identity and characteristics, a photograph of one’s back adds an element of mystery by prompting more questions than answers. When that happens, even the most inconspicuous detail becomes worthy of observation in deciphering identity, circumstance and action.
An image of a person from the back can be both puzzling and fascinating as one doesn't see the emotions from their faces and one can only assume what they are feeling, as the three back portraits above do attest...
19 June 2011
Ladakh, Northern India, has a population of c. 260,000 which is a blend of many different ethnic groups, predominantly Tibetans, Monpas and Dards. A feature of the Tibetan-Buddhist segment of Ladakh's community is the high status and relative emancipation enjoyed by women compared to other rural parts of India. Fraternal polyandry and inheritance by primogeniture were common in Ladakh until the early 1940s CE when these were made illegal by the Indian government. However, the practice remained in existence into the 1990s especially among the elderly and the more isolated rural populations.
15 June 2011
Tibetan Buddhism is the main religion in Ladakh and is followed by the majority of the population; Tibetan is the spiritual language of Ladakh. Irrespective of the rugged terrain and remote inaccessible areas of Ladakh, lamas and monks passed through them and built monasteries aka gompas all over the place. There are innumerable monasteries in Ladakh, some in ruins while others are still in inhabited, running as educational and religious centres. Monasteries have for long held an important position in Ladakh. Families used to send their youngest son/s to a monastery to live and to study, knowing that the local community took care of the monks and provided food. In return the monks took care of weddings, funerals and other important ceremonies and rituals. The tradition of sending a son to a monastery also helped to control population growth. Ladakh is one of the main centres of Tibetan Buddhism outside Tibet, and is sometimes called Little Tibet.
12 June 2011
The Ladakhi goncha, a voluminous robe of thick woollen cloth with a colourful cummerbund tied at the waist, is the most common dress in Ladakh, Northern India; loose pyjamas, a distinctive top hat and long felt boots complete the ensemble. It is very effective to protect the people from the harsh and extreme cold weather of this region which belongs to the Himalayas. For ceremonial purposes, colourful robes in silk and brocade are worn.
Street portrait photographs of Ladakhi people in traditional costumes in Matt Hahnewald's
Flickr Album 2011-06c Chasing Ladakhi Traditions
Flickr Album 2011-06c Chasing Ladakhi Traditions
The perak is a very heavy headdress typically worn by the old aristocracy in the Himalayan Ladakh region of India. It is composed of black lamb skin and a strap of leather studded with semi-precious stones, such as lapis lazuli and turquoise, covering the head like a cobra's hood and tapering to a thin tail reaching down the back. The perak is a symbol among the Ladakhis of the rank and economic status of the woman wearing it. Traditionally, the number of front-to-back rows of turquoise signifies the status of the wearer.
"A turquoise given by a loving hand carries with it happiness and good fortune."
(Arabic proverb, acc. to Judy Hall)
By the way, the turquoise stone crowns of the local village queens during the annual Mehta Festival in the Himalayan Mustang District of Nepal do look like smaller versions of the more sophisticated Ladakhi perak...
Street portraits of Ladakhi people in their traditional costumes in Matt Hahnewald's
Street portraits of Gurung women with smaller turquoise stone crowns in Matt Hahnewald's
02 June 2011
Kashmir is located in the northwestern region of South Asia and includes the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Pakistan-administered territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, and the Chinese-administered regions of Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract. The origin of the Kashmiri people is shrouded in mystery; there are various theories that have been put forward in this regard. According to one of the theories, the initial settlers in Kashmir were Aryans who migrated from Central Asia. These people were a long headed race of tall structure with narrow noses and fair complexion. Another theory of the Kashmiri descent posts that the Kashmiri people of India and Pakistan originally descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of ancient Israel.
14 May 2011
Dravidians are the speakers of the Dravidian languages in South India. There are c. 220 million native speakers of Dravidian languages. The name "Dravidian" itself is from the given in Sanskrit, and may not be what the Dravidian people have historically called themselves. The Dravidian languages with the most speakers are Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada. It is often considered that the Dravidian languages are a close-knit family, native to all over South India between Kanyakumari and Hampi.
Regardless of their mother tongue, almost all Indians love to fire immediately three nosy questions at you in English (... supposedly a typically Indian way of honouring another person):
"What is your good name?"
"What country do you belong to?"
"What is the purpose of your visit?"
The lively Chithirai Thiruvizha (a festival celebrated during the Tamil month of Chitirai) is an annual event celebrated in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, South India, during the month of April. It is one of the longest celebrations in the world and lasts for one month. The first 15 days of the festival are celebrated for Meenakshi and the next 15 days are celebrated for Alagar (a form of lord Mahavishnu); it's month full of opportunities to forget your official Hindi and to brush up all your Dravidian language skills.
Street portraits of sadhus from Nepal in Matt Hahnewald's
Street portraits of sadhus from Tamil Nadu in Matt Hahnewald's