Synopses & Reviews
With its awe-inspiring landmarks, its dense woodlands, and the delightful coolness of its mountain-tops, the region of Asir stands in sharp contrast to the usual patterns of Saudi Arabian landscape. "This could have been the site of the Garden of Eden," wrote St. John Philby in the 1930s, and as this extraordinary book of photographs demonstrates, the claim still holds true today.
The story of the author's two journeys around the Asir region is told through the architecture, frescoes and lifestyles of the people. Granted royal approval for his second project, Thierry Mauger has been able to gain access to previously unseen interiors and to win the trust of the people. In the process, he reveals how the art of the Asir region, the handpainted, brightly colored interior decoration, the painted façades, the symbolism of the architecture, and the unique landscape form a complex code which provides valuable insights into understanding this little-known culture.
In the midst of Westernizing trends, the author demonstrates the strong traditional forces which imbue the art and architecture of Asir today. New architecture is taking up forms and ornamentation from traditional regional styles, and as the author shows, the painted interiors by Asir women resonate with the traditions of magic and religion, blended with new images drawn from the contemporary culture.
About the Author
has been a radar instructor, computer field engineer, weapons system instructor, and ethnophotographer. He is a graduate of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, a member of the Société des Gens de Lettres, and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He is also active in the International Cooperation for the Preservation and Protection of Traditional Architectural Heritage (CICAT).
Well known to everyone interested in Saudi Arabia, he has traveled extensively in Asia and shared the life of the Arctic Inuit in 1985 before devoting himself to the tribes of Arabia. He is the author of several books, including In the Shadow of the Black Tents (Tihama, 1986), Bedouins of Arabia (Souffles, 1988), Flowered Men and Green Slopes of Arabia ( Souffles, 1988), The Ark of the Desert (Souffles, 1991), and Undiscovered Asir ( Stacey, 1993). He has also published a scholarly work on the image in the Arab world (EHESS, 1994) and a doctoral dissertation (social anthropology and ethnology) on the vernacular architecture of Asir (EHESS, 1995).
A ten-year stay in Saudi Arabia inspired Thierry Mauger to conduct a very extensive exploratory survey. After traveling across the country, he focused on Asir, one of the least known and most accessible parts of the globe. It is to the author's credit that he discovered and photographed the flowered men and the polychromatic frescoes in these remote territories.