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Thursday, January 6, 2011

DINKA: Legendary Cattle Keepers of Sudan

By Angela Fisher & Carol Beckwith
Publisher: Rizzoli

This seminal volume on the indigenous African Dinka group is a landmark documentation of a vanishing people in war-torn Sudan. This book is a bit out of the ordinary for an arcspace review but we love it and wanted to share our enthusiasm with you......and Christmas is coming up!
World-renowned photographers Angela Fisher and Carol Beckwith have devoted their lives to documenting the rapidly disappearing ceremonies and cultures of the indigenous people of Africa. In breathtakingly poignant images, they present a story that started with their first visit to the Dinka thirty years ago.
“We were struck by the beauty of the cattle camp - the layers of smoke at sunset, the striking silhouettes of cattle with their lyre-shaped horns, and the tall herders moving among them.”
Angela & Carol

Between November and April every year, the Dinka move their vast herds to dry season cattle camps, to take advantage of the rich grasslands on either side of the River Nile.

Living in harmony with their cattle, the Dinka have survived years of war only to find their culture on the brink of vanishing forever. Where the White Nile River reaches Dinka country, it spills over 11,000 square miles of flood plain to form the Sudd, the largest swamp in the world. In the dry season, it provides abundant pasture for cattle, and this is where the Dinka set up their camps.
Every morning hundreds of animals are taken out to graze. White is the Dinkas favorite color of cattle, but they recognize a myriad of other colors with the subtle distinctions and spend hours discussing them.

Dinka men often walk hand in hand. This physical touching celebrates their close bonds as age-mates. Their traditional corsets are color coded to show their status in life; a red corset indicates a young man 15 to 25 years old, while a yellow one shows he is over 30 years old and ready for marriage.

The size and beauty of a man’s corset reflects whether he comes from a family rich in cattle and can afford a high bride price.

A young woman abandons herself to the pleasure of dancing. She wears the highly valued blue beads given to her as a present by her husband at their marriage.

The men dust their bodies and faces with gray ash—protection against flies and lethal malarial mosquitoes, but also considered a mark of beauty. Covered with this ash and up to 7’ 6" tall, the Dinka were referred to as "gentle" or "ghostly" giants by the early explorers. The Dinka call themselves "jieng" and "mony-jang," which means "men of men."

Thirty years of work on the African continent have taken award winning Carol and Angela over 270,000 miles, through remote corners of 40 countries, and to more than 150 African cultures. Producing 14 universally acclaimed books and making four films about traditional Africa. Their photographic exhibitions, lectures and unique books have received acclaim in museums and galleries throughout the world.
“These unique cultures possess a wealth of knowledge that should be celebrated, shared and honored. It is our life passion to document and create a powerful visual record of these vanishing ways of life for future generations.”
Angela & Carol

Photo: arcspace
Angela and Carol signing books at a Los Angeles event hosted by Joan and Arnold Travis.
Legendary Cattle Keepers of Sudan

Angela Fisher & Carol Beckwith
Publisher: Rizzoli

DINKA: Legendary Cattle Keepers of Sudan - By Angela Fisher & Carol Beckwith :: books at

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