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Fashion and Spirituality in Senegal’s Baye Fall

Sufism is mystical branch of Islam centered on the idea of experiencing the love of God or “Truth,” and forming a profound inner relationship with the divine.  For centuries, the Sufi order has excited and bewildered those who have come in contact with it – not only for its culture of song, rhythm, hermeticism and deep devotion to God, but for the manner in which these beliefs manifest in art, poetry, song, and dress.

In almost all cultures where Sufi sects exists, there are distinct and unique elements of aesthetic that have captured the interest of many a photojournalist. Bright colors (particularly green), patchwork clothing, locked hair, and spiritual amulets are common traits that speak to a way of life that rises above convention.

One such Sufi sect is the Baye Fall in Dakar, Senegal. Nicole Crowder of the Washington Posts describes how photojournalist Laylah Amatullah Barrayn came to know the Baye Fall Sufis, their Khassidas (religious chants) and their deep allegiances to spiritual leaders. Learn more of that account and about Barrayn’s upcoming exhibit, ReSignifications: European Blackamoors, Africana ReStagings, in Florence this May.

The Roots of Fashion and Spirituality in Senegal’s Islamic Brotherhood, the Baye Fall

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Photo credits: Laylah Amatullah Barrayn as featured in the Washington Post

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