Cities of the Dead

The Ancestral Cemeteries of Kyrgyzstan

Morton, Margaret W.


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A Kyr­gyz cemete­ry seen from a distan­ce is asto­nis­hing. The orna­te domes and mina­rets, tight­ly clus­te­red behind stone walls, seem at odds with this deso­la­te moun­tain regi­on. Islam, the pro­mi­nent reli­gi­on in the regi­on sin­ce the twelfth cen­tu­ry, dis­cou­ra­ges tombstones or deco­ra­ti­ve mar­kers. Howe­ver, ela­bo­ra­te Kyr­gyz tombs com­bi­ne ear­lier noma­dic customs with Mus­lim archi­tec­tu­ral forms.

After the ter­ri­to­ry was for­mal­ly incorpo­ra­ted into the Rus­si­an Empi­re in 1876, ena­mel por­traits for the decea­sed were atta­ched to the Mus­lim monu­ments. Yet ever­y­thing wit­hin the walls is over­grown with weeds, for it is not Kyr­gyz tra­di­ti­on for the living to fre­quent the gra­ves of the dead.

Archi­tec­tu­ral­ly uni­que, Kyrgyzstan’s dra­ma­ti­cal­ly sited ceme­te­ries reveal the com­plex natu­re of the Kyr­gyz people’s reli­gious and cul­tu­ral iden­ti­ties. Often said to have left behind few per­ma­nent monu­ments or books, the Kyr­gyz peop­le in fact left behind a magni­ficent lega­cy when they buried their dead.

Tra­ve­ling in Kyr­gyzstan, pho­to­gra­pher Mar­ga­ret Mor­ton beca­me cap­ti­va­ted by the other­world­ly gran­deur of the­se ceme­te­ries. Cities of the Dead: The Ances­tral Ceme­te­ries of Kyr­gyzstan collects the pho­to­graphs she made on several visits to the area and is an important con­tri­bu­ti­on to the archi­tec­tu­ral and cul­tu­ral record of this regi­on.

Mar­ga­ret Mor­ton is pro­fes­sor of art at The Cooper Uni­on. She is the aut­hor of four pre­vious pho­to­gra­phy books explo­ring alter­na­ti­ve built envi­ron­ments: Fra­gi­le Dwel­ling; The Tun­nel: The Under­ground Homeless of New York City; Tran­si­to­ry Gar­dens, Uproo­ted Lives (with Dia­na Bal­mo­ri); and Glass Hou­se.

With Con­tri­bu­ti­ons by Nas­ser Rab­bat, Altyn Kapal­o­va, and Elmi­ra Koch­um­kul­o­va












20,3 x 30,6 cm




The Ancestral Cemeteries of Kyrgyzstan

Artikelnummer: liawolf-9780295993980 Kategorie: Schlüsselworte: ,
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