Books: a lost Yemen in photos by Basso and De Palma

Immortalizing a 1996 trip to country now at war

23 November, 20:11

    ROME - Landscapes, mosques, villages, lacework buildings, faces, markets, trades, stones and the desert fill the pages of a photography book presented in Rome on a Yemen prior to the current war.

    'Yemen Perduto' ('Lost Yemen', published by Gangemi editore) includes hundreds of photos by Nicola Basso, a well-known surgeon, and Marcella De Palma, a journalist for state broadcaster RAI who died in 2000 but who crossed the country together on a trip in 1996. The only plan for the trip, Basso said, was ''to immerse ourselves in a reality that is both new and ancient, so far but close to our desire for knowledge, as well as fabulously rich in stories that we did not know, by following the Silk, Incense and Myrhh Road.''

    It is difficult to know now what has happened to the Dar Al-Hajar palace in Wadi Dhar - close to the capital, Sanaa - he said. Or to Jibla and its 40 mosques with minarets that seem to have been embroidered, Thula and its hand-sculpted homes and those of Zabid, the moon temple in Marib, or the Sayyid Umar Shaykh al-Kaf palace in Seyun.

    For over a year, the country has been under bombardment by a Saudi-led international coalition. The war has displaced 2.5 million and caused over 6,000 deaths. 

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