Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Eric Tourneret: The Honey Gatherers

Photo ©Éric Tourneret-All Rights Reserved.

The Rai (aka Raji) people live in the Himalayan foothills of central Nepal, and are known as the honey hunters. Twice a year, Rai men gather around steep cliffs that are home to the world's largest honeybee, and as they have for generations, these men are to harvest its honey. The harvest ritual usually starts with a prayer and sacrifice of flowers, fruits, and rice. A fire is then lit at the base of the cliff to smoke the bees from their honeycombs.

The honey hunters then descend the cliffs, harnessed to a ladder braided bamboo well over 250 feet above ground. With the rest of their teams securing the ropes, and providing tools up and down as needed, the honey hunters fight the bees as they cut chunks of honey from the comb.

This is the work of photographer Éric Tourneret, who after traveling to Djibouti for his military service, began a career as photojournalist for a number of French magazines. Examples of his fascinating photo reportage include the indigenous sorcerers and healers of the Ivory Coast, the “Transvestites of Islam” in Pakistan, and his work on bees.

Éric Tourneret's "The Honey Gatherers of Nepal".

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