Hajj Paintings

Photographs by Ayman Damarany

This exhibition explores ancient devotional graffiti at the site of El-Kurru, Sudan. Associated with pilgrimage, the graffiti from El-Kurru depict a variety of subjects. Although the idea of a pilgrim making graffiti as an act of devotion might seem strange today, a modern tradition of making pilgrimage images exists in some parts of the Nile Valley.

This photo essay explores graffiti-like images painted onto the sides of houses in the small towns of El-Araba and El-Ghabat near Abydos, Egypt. These paintings are commemorative in nature, recording and celebrating the hajj, or a Muslim’s pilgrimage to Mecca. They often include the pilgrims’ names, information about which family members made the trip, the year of travel, and the mode of travel — whether the pilgrimage was made by airplane, boat, or camel. Personal, devotional, and detailed, these paintings are a colorful and attractive form of social communication.

El-Araba 1
El-Araba 2
El-Araba 3
El-Ghabat 1
El-Ghabat 2
El-Ghabat 3
El-Ghabat 4
El-Ghabat 5
El-Ghabat 6
El-Ghabat 7
El-Ghabat 8