Book List: Rites of Life

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


The human need for rituals and ceremonies is one of the most fundamental forms of cultural expression. Perhaps the most important and universal are the rites of passage that mark our steps along life’s path. People in all cultures and societies, no matter where their geographic location or what their level of access to the ‘necessities’ of modern life, share the need to celebrate these moments when we pass from one phase of life to the next.
— -from the Introduction (p14) of Rites Of Life by Anders Ryman

Traveller, writer and photographer Anders Ryman became fascinated with the study of ritual and ceremony after spending a year in Samoa doing anthropological fieldwork. It was there that he came to the realization that, though there is great cultural diversity in the world, people are intrinsically the same. 

Rayman spent seven years travelling to every inhabited continent in the world, documenting important rites of passage with notes and his camera. The result is Rites of Lifewritten in three languages and containing stunning images that captures people at the happiest and most devastating moments of their lives. 

Divided into parts, this book documents rites spanning the full cycle of life, including coming of age ceremonies in New Guinea, childbirth ceremonies in Palau and cremation in Varanasi. 

Candid photos paired with written stories of the rituals achieve what Ryman set out to do: 

… to tell stories, to communicate with the non-expert and above all, through photography, to get closer to our humanity, the feelings we all have in common.
— (p14)