Kathakali Performer, Kochi, India,2002
Kathakali is the colorful theatrical dance form of Kerala in southern India.  Only men can become Kathakali dancers and training for this profession begins at an early age and is extremely rigorous.  It includes gymnastics, physical exercises and extreme yoga positions.  The application of the performers’ elaborate make-up can take up to several hours and is as fascinating to watch as the performance itself.

Chinese Fishing Nets,Kochi, India ,2002

These cantilevered nets are fixed land installations with an outstretched net suspended over the sea and large stones suspended from ropes at the other end.  It is an ingenious system of counterweights operated by a team of up to six fishermen.  Some say these nets were introduced to Kochi (formerly Cochin) by court traders of Kubai Khan.  Others suggest it was the Chinese eunuch admiral, Zheng He.

Kutia Kondh Village, Kotagarh Area, Orissa, India 2005

I drove over gutted dirt roads through a forest of tropical saal trees for four hours to reach this Kutia Kondh community.  The villagers support themselves by collecting products from the forest and growing maize and mustard seed.  All of the women wear long rows of small circular silver earrings along the outer rim of each ear and have tattooed faces with geometric designs related to nature.  They believe these patterns will enable them to locate their relatives in the afterlife. 

all images & original text © audrey stein photography


Onukadeli Market in Jeypore area of Orissa, India, 2005
The Bonda people live in the most remote areas of Orissa and their villages are off limits to tourists.  But they can be seen when they come to shop and barter at Onukadeli Market.  The women cover their shaved heads with beaded caps, wear large silver neck rings and cover their naked chests with many strands of tiny beads. They practice a unique marriage custom - at the age of 25 to 30, they marry boys of 15 to 17 to ensure that they have strong men to care for them when they are elderly.

Ganges Ghats at Varanasi, India, 2003

In the pre-dawn hours I sat in a small boat on the Ganges facing the shore waiting for the sun to rise.  The early morning light dramatically lit the ghats and the colorful morning rituals that were taking place there. The Ganges, or “Mother Ganga”, India’s holiest river, flows past Varanasi in the course of a 2,600-mile journey from the Himalayas, across the northern plains of India, to the Bay of Bengal.  Many regard Varanasi as the cultural and religious heart of India and thousands of Hindu pilgrims come here daily to bathe and to drink the waters of “Mother Ganga” like a libation.

Tuareg Boy, Libyan Sahara, 2005

I sat in the Sahara sand across from this Tuareg boy … in Tuareg culture it’s the males who cover their faces.  He had just finished preparing “taajeelah” or desert bread baked in the hot sand that lay beneath a campfire … a tasty and gritty desert treat.

Man in Old Delhi, India, 2010

This man was chatting with a friend in front of a wonderful wall .  I knew he’d be a great subject but the friend was blocking my getting a full view so I patiently waited to see what would happen.  Luck was with me ... the friend eventually left and my subject struck this thoughtful pose.