Bondo Women is a project within a project. In January of 2008 I traveled into the extreme rural areas of the Indian state of Orissa, located in the eastern part of the country. It is a region both beautiful and rugged, and many indigenous tribes inhabit its valleys and mountains. As part of my plan to photograph the daily lives and rituals throughout Orissa, I made arrangements to visit the Bondo tribe at their weekly market, when they travel down from their highland villages to sell produce in the local town center.
I arrived early and immediately began searching for a suitable background to use for the portrait series. Once it was located and I was ready with my camera, the women lined up to be photographed. This was an unusual event for these women even though they are often photographed by a passing tourist, and they took the process very seriously, and with a good deal of fun.
The inherent beauty of their dress and ornamentation and their strong sense of color combines with their concentration and pride to create a wonderful series about women and culture. They stand straight and tall, and because they are photographed alone their diminutive size is not clearly apparent (the average height is about 53 inches).
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© David Katzenstein