Archive for February, 2011

Afghanistan’s Ancient Absolutes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 28, 2011 by stevemccurry

AFGHN-13333NF    I traveled with  the Afghan Mujahadeen in 1979, who were determined to resist,  undermine, and overthrow the Marxist puppet central government.  This was before the Soviets invaded.  I photographed men girding for war and women selling jewelry to buy ammunition.

AFGHN-13268We  traveled as much as thirty miles a day subsisting on tea and bread with an occasional bonus of goat cheese or yogurt.  The only drinking water was what we scooped out of an irrigation ditch.

AFGHN-13246I traveled with many different mujahadeen and militia groups. We mainly traveled at night to avoid being spotted by the Soviet helicopters. Most of the time we walked, but a few times we were able to borrow horses. I was always astonished at the continual pipeline of weapons and supplies going into Afghanistan from Pakistan around the clock. Rockets, mortar rounds, ammunition, were carried in by camels, donkeys, and fighters.


AFGHN-13270I witnessed strafing by Soviet helicopter gunships, ambushes of Russian convoys, forced marches of captured soldiers, and the mujahadeen jumping on top of helicopters they brought down with Stinger missles.

AFGHN-13316During the ten years the Russians were in Afghanistan, they killed one million Afghans; five million became refugees.




These are the proud men who were girding for war in a place where ancient absolutes still prevail.
Adapted from Owen Edwards in American Photographer magazine, 1980.




AFGHN-13321There was a deep camaraderie amongst the fighters who were on the greatest mission of their lives.   They didn’t worry much about casualty numbers. The harder the fight was, the stronger they became. Walking in the snow without boots high up in the Hindu Kush was commonplace.  Those men were as tough as it gets, yet they could be gentle and tender with children.




AFGHN-13314-(1)As much as outsiders have tried to “re-form” the country in their own image, Afghanistan  has been able to absorb the blows of superpowers, and remain essentially the same. The interesting thing to me is that those trying to change it,  change more than the country does even after Herculean efforts of  governments, NGO’s, and coalitions.

Brothers and Sisters

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2011 by stevemccurry

The relationship between and among siblings has been the subject of literature for millennia.  From Old Testament stories of Cain and Abel to Shakespeare’s plays, modern novels, folktales, proverbs, and poems, the topic of  brothers and sisters has been a universal theme, relevant because most people on the planet have siblings.



TIBET-10100NF3Amdo, Tibet

Van Dyck, Ruebens, Hals, Van Gogh and hundreds of other artists have painted portraits of young siblings, but the subjects were mainly children of affluent families.  The siblings I photograph are often poor children in third world countries who have to stick together to survive poverty, wars, abuse, and deprivation.






UZBEKISTAN-10003Samarkand, Uzbekistan






USA-10283Los Angeles





























AFGHN-13010Kabul, Afghanistan




INDIA-10891NFMizoram, India



INDIA-11137Bombay, India








“Sibling relationships …  flourish in a thousand incarnations of closeness and distance, warmth, loyalty and distrust.”  ~ Erica E. Goode, The Secret World of Siblings



My siblings

A Matter of Faith

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2011 by stevemccurry

AFGHN-12236NF3 Girl praying at a mosque, Kabul,  Afghanistan


 I have seen many manifestations of  faith during my travels over the past three decades.  Some have been spontaneous, some have been part of a liturgy, some have been prescribed rituals, some have been in magnificent buildings, others have been outside under a tree.   Some people’s faith is embedded in the way they live their lives.



CHINA-10018NF2Shaolin monks training, Zhengzhou, China


“Just as the body cannot exist without blood, so the soul needs the matchless and pure strength of faith.”   Mohandas Gandhi

PAKISTAN-10079Prayers and teaching, Peshawar, Pakistan




INDIA-10201 Sikh holiest site, Golden Temple,  Amritsar, India





SRILANKA-10144Sri Lanka




TIBET-10093NF2Prayer Flags, Lhasa, Tibet




USA-10001Charlotte, North Carolina



YEMEN-10102 Religious Instruction – Jewish child  in Yemen




KASHMIR-10056Srinagar, Kashmir







ITALY-10022Camino, Italy



“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.  To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”   

St. Thomas Aquinas






INDIA-10202Thrissur Pooram, Kerala, India


  “Faith is a bird that feels dawn breaking and sings while it is still dark.”

    – Rabindranath Tagore



INDIA-10299Tibetan Prayer Festival in Bodh Gaya, India



TIBET-10029Pilgrim praying with monks at the Buddhist Academy of Larung Gar, Kham Province, Tibet


“What is Faith?  When your good deed pleases you and your evil deed grieves you, you are a believer.”

– Prophet Muhammad


TIBET-10009Monk at Jokhang temple, Lhasa, Tibet


Yemen at the Crossroads

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2011 by stevemccurry


YEMEN-10009NF2Women Gathering Clover, Shibam, Wadi Hadhramaut, Yemen 


Strategically located at the crossroads of Africa, the Middle East and Asia,  ancient Yemen became wealthy from the spice trade.  It was so rich the Romans called the land Arabia Felix, Happy Arabia.  Augustus Ceasar tried, but failed, to annex it.  Today it is the poorest country in the Arab world. 









Chronic unemployment, dwindling oil and water supplies, high illiteracy rates, government corruption, and a feuding tribal culture, have created fertile ground for a growing Al-Qaeda presence.





 Sana’a, a living museum,  was declared a World Heritage City by the United Nations in 1986.  There are efforts  to preserve some of the oldest buildings, which are over 1000 years old, but many think that it is too little too late.




Sana’a is a must, however long it takes to get there – Yemeni Proverb









In January and February, 2011, thousands of Yemenis marched to demand a change in government.  The president who has been in power for decades pledged not to run again when his term runs out in 2013.   With 40% unemployment, malnutrition, and rising food prices, it is difficult to see how he can keep the reins of power without major concessions. 


Women queue up to vote in parliamentary elections





In Yemen’s weapon’s culture, it is estimated that there are at least three firearms for each person. 



YEMEN-10033NF  Known as “jambiya“, ornamental knives are an important fashion accessory for Yemeni men.   









The tradition of reciting poetry represents a rich cultural heritage in Yemen.  Oral poetry has offers a socially acceptable way for men and women to solve problems, manage conflicts, and communicate feelings of sorrow, happiness, and worry, according to Najwa Adra, a New York-based anthropologist.






Some poets in Yemen are using poetry to battle extremism.


O men of arms, why do you love injustice?
You must live in law and order
Get up, wake up, or be forever regretful,
Don’t be infamous among the nations

-Amin al-Mashreqi



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 37,259 other followers