PHOTOGALLERY

THE ARC OF A NAME

Text and photographs by Ed Kashi

7 May 2021

Reading time: 5 minutes

Morning yoga practice along the Ganges River, or Ganga, in the early morning of April 1, 2019.

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.

varanasi

Hindu Puja ceremony for tourists and religious pilgrims at the Dashashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi, India on April 3, 2019.

varanasi

A mother and daughter walk together in the old alleyways of Varanasi, India on March 31, 2019.

varanasi

Puja at the Tulsi Das House, named after a famous 6th century poet, in Varanasi, India on April 4, 2019. Das was revered for democratizing the religion.

varanasi

Puja at the Tulsi Das House, named after a famous 6th century poet, in Varanasi, India on April 4, 2019. Das was revered for democratizing the religion.

varanasi

Kids play around some boats in the Ganges River, or Ganga River, on April 2, 2019.

varanasi

A homeless man wanders through the dark alleys at night in Varanasi, India on March 29, 2019.

varanasi

A young boy enjoys a refreshing popsicle after school in Varanasi, India on March 29, 2019.

varanasi

The Friday prayers at the Alamgir Mosque, built in the 16th Century, in Varanasi, India on April 5, 2019.

varanasi

Jayant Kumar Pandey, 45, mourns the death of his father Ram Janm Pandey, who died at 101 years old, as the funeral pyre burns in the background at the Manikarnika Ghat, the main cremation ghat in Varanasi, India on April 5, 2019.

varanasi

Boats in the distance along the ghats in Varanasi, India on April 6, 2019.

varanasi

The Hindu ritual of aarti, performed at night, in a small temple near the Manikarnika cremation ghat in Varanasi, India on April 8, 2019.

varanasi

A cow lies dead on a ghat along the Ganges River in Varanasi, India on April 8, 2019.

varanasi

Locals walk home after a day of work in the old city of Varanasi, India on April 10, 2019.

varanasi

Kids jump off a ghat into the Ganges River in Varanasi, India on April 11, 2019.

Ed Kashi is an American awards winning renowned photojournalist, filmmaker, speaker and educator who has been making images and telling stories for 40 years. Dedicated to documenting the social and political issues that define our times, a sensitive eye and an intimate and compassionate relationship to his subjects are signatures of his intense and unsparing work. As a member of VII Photo Agency, Kashi has been recognized for his complex imagery and its compelling rendering of the human condition.

Website | Instagram

If you liked this article, subscribe to our Newsletter (in Italian).

CATEGORIE