Editor: Boris von Brauchitsch / Saeid Edalatnejad
Photographs by Hans Georg Berger
Never before has a Western photographer delved so deeply into life at religious colleges of Shiite Islam in Iran. When Hans Georg Berger visited the centers for the study of religion and science in Qom, Isfahan, and Mashhad, it was a new and important experience for both sides. The diversity of attitudes is just as vividly illustrated as the sites and rites, as well as dialogue as a constitutive element of Shiite teachings. A good hundred years before Berger, on the initiative of two Persian Shahs – Naser al-Din, the father (1831 – 1896), and Mozaffar ad-Din, the son (1853 – 1907) – pilgrimages began to the sacred sites of Karbala and Najaf. What they, or rather their court photographers, brought back with them are fascinating documents that now belong to the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme as part of the Karbala Corpus. They are published here for the first time, supported by the Federal Foreign Office as part of the German-Iranian scientific and cultural dialogue. Together, the photographs from the circle of the shahs and Berger’s pictures provide unique insight and are significant photographic projects revolving around a preoccupation with the other.