Orient in a Mirror


In their latest volume of Middle Eastern photography, the Michauds use a “mirror” technique to emphasize the continuity of cultural traditions in the Islamic world. On one side of each two-page spread, they place an image taken from an ancient Islamic miniature painting, some of which date back eight centuries. On the other page of the spread, they show a photograph that was taken sometime during the past 50 years. This juxtaposition of ancient and modern is clearly meant to highlight how little the Islamic world has changed in the intervening years—a proposition that may irritate readers who disagree with such Orientalist ideas. But the parallels between the images are nonetheless arresting. Sweeping city shots are nearly identical to their ancient counterparts; laborers, women, children and beggars wear dreamy expressions similar to those recorded centuries before. One of the most beautiful spreads shows two scenes of a man in turban petting a falcon. A few of the pairings are harder to connect, and readers may get frustrated by the need to flip to the book’s index to learn their significance, since the images themselves are presented without dates or commentary. Partly imaginative, partly explicit, this book nurtures a dialogue between the art of the past and the life of the present.

Authors: Roland Michaud, Sabrina Michaud
Published Year:  2003
ISBN: 9780500511541
Pages: 254
Language: English


Central Asia is a vibrant mixture of civilizations and tongues; united by Islam, diversified by differing histories, cultures and languages. Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan and their neighbours are famed for their literature and their multi-hued arts and crafts, but few realize how alive, how close to the surface, are their powerful and enduring traditions. “The Orient in a Mirror” counterpoints the colour photographs of Roland and Sabrina Michaud with reproductions of 14th- to 19th-century central Asian miniatures. The two art forms enhance one another, providing a multifaceted insight into the glories of the region – from glimpses of students and solemn mullahs to Afghan horsemen, in a plethora of exotic beauty and colour. This book was acclaimed on first publication in 1980 but was long out of print. It is now republished in a revised and expanded form, with twice as many images.

Additional information

Weight 1.90 kg

Roland Michaud, Sabrina Michaud


Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2003




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