with Omar Reda
For the ‘Flower Men’ of Saudi Arabia, A Handcrafted Tradition Heralds Beauty and Health
In the rapidly modernizing ‘Asir Province of southwest Saudi Arabia, the Qhatan tribe preserves an enduring tradition. The men of the group, which is said to descend from Ishmael, son of Abraham, fashion vibrant flower crowns made from marigolds, jasmine, herbs, and other plants, wearing the handcrafted ornaments as symbols of pride and joy. Comprised of dried and fresh materials, the headpieces are donned for celebrations, to ward off sickness, and for their beauty, and the practice spans professions and age.
Omar Reda, a Lebanese photographer currently living and working in Saudi Arabia, traveled to the province in January 2021, where he met some members of the tribe. The country “holds a treasure trove of hidden gems, he says, noting that he’s interested in documenting the vast cultural diversity of the Arab nation. In his photographs of the “flower men,” Reda brings the viewer into direct confrontation with the subjects, documenting their crowns, facial expressions, and garments with close precision. The intimate portraits highlight how the uniqueness of each individual emerges through a shared practice, providing a common point of connection throughout the community.
Reda frequently travels to photograph communities and their cultural practices, and you can find more of his portraiture on Instagram. (via PetaPixel)
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