High in the mountains of the Georgian Republic, between the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, in a valley surrounded by 5,000 meter peaks, is Svanetia. The old men of this valley say that the Svans are the descendents of Sumerian slaves that escaped their bondage and fled north, to the Caucasus where they worshiped the sun god Lile' and became known as The Children of The Sun.
It was the most beautiful and isolated place I had ever traveled, and remains so to this day. Isolated by the natural barrier of the Caucasus, the Svans enjoyed a long history of independence and have used that protection to develop their own language, culture, and customs. Song and dance are the last places the Svanish culture survives.
The Pilpani family welcomed me into their home on the night of Khatuna, their eldest daughter's, wedding. From that day forward they treated me as a member of the family. I visited them every fall for 3 years in a row, staying longer and longer with each journey.
I loved them very much. It was that relationship that made me realize that I wanted to make photojournalism my life.
This kitchen was the center of the Pilpani's universe. In this kitchen they taught me their songs. Songs I still sing today.
(photo essay HERE )