Tuesday, October 04, 2022
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This Tiny Desert Community Preserves Islam’s Literary Treasures

Chinguetti Friday Mosque, symbol of the city, built between the 13 and 14th centuries and restored in 1970. The minaret is the original built in the style of Malikite Islam.
Chinguetti Friday Mosque, symbol of the city, built between the 13 and 14th centuries and restored in 1970. The minaret is the original built in the style of Malikite Islam.

In a remote desert region of Mauritania, one of Islam’s holiest cities, Chinguetti, is home to families guarding thousands of ancient manuscripts dating back to the 13th century.

They are known as librarians of the desert. Over the last 50 years a changing climate has brought Saharan sands into the heart of the city, gradually consuming entire buildings.

The Mauritanian government has made an effort to preserve the priceless texts—including Quranic studies and scientific and legal documents—but for the families of Chinguetti, to surrender their heirlooms is anathema. Once a major draw for tourists, the city is now threatened by Islamist attacks, which has driven most outsiders away.

Panos photographer Alfredo Caliz offers a rare look inside the Unesco World Heritage Site.

Photographs by Alfredo Caliz/PANOS

See more: This Tiny Desert Community Preserves Islam’s Literary Treasures

Source: Bloomberg News

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