Saturday, April 2, 2016

Group of Fakirs, Kandahar

This photograph of a group of fakirs or dervishes is from an album of rare historical photographs depicting people and places associated with the Second Anglo-Afghan War. The term fakir sometimes refers to Hindu holy men, but in this context it is understood to describe a Sufi Muslim holy man, who practices an ascetic form of Islam with a stress on poverty and personal devotion to God. The Sufi men in this photo resemble beggars, and in fact many fakirs begged for alms as a means of basic subsistence. The fakir seated in the left-center, staring at the camera, is the subject of another photograph in the album. In his lap is a kashkul, a bowl or pot for receiving food donations, symbolizing the emptying of the Sufi’s ego through the renunciation of worldly goods and aspirations.

Source: Library of Congress