For over 5,000 years, Varanasi, Hinduism’s holiest city, was known as Kashi. It wasn’t until I was 33 that I learned my name carries the weight of centuries, has sacred origins, and has traversed continents. The name traveled to Kashan, Iran, an ancient civilization at the edge of the Maranjab desert, and then migrated to Iraq, the home of my ancestors. It is also the original name of Kashgar, China, along the Silk Road trade crossroads.
This personal and anthropological project unearths clues to the origins, migration, and modern manifestations of a name. My images explore the transmission and transformation of cultural heritage, and the residue left by traders, seekers and spiritual healers who helped spread the name Kashi, imprinting across continents and civilizations.
In 2019, I began my pursuit in Varanasi, exploring the timeless quixotic mix of ancient and modern cultures, bundling the kinetic energy with constant movement and transformation.
Names are our legacy, surviving long after we’re gone; traveling through the transformation of commerce, conquest, and colonization. The seeds interweave forgotten pieces of history. Having never reconciled my identity – both American and Iraqi – I want to examine the places that bear my name to find clues of my own belonging.