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Of Dragons and Men

Socotra, the small island in Yemen, in the Indian Ocean, is well-known for its endemic species, which have led to its inclusion on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Sort of a giant mushroom, made up of dozens of intertwined branches, the Socotra dragon tree is featured in the book Des dragonniers et des hommes.

In this four-handed work, the author and poet Cécile Palusinski and the professional photographer Benoît Palusinski wanted to honour this particular tree, the Socotra dragon tree. Adapted to the island's arid conditions, the tree produces a resin called "Dragon's Blood", used by the Bedouins in their traditional medicine.

© Benoît Palusinski

© Benoît Palusinski

The use of black and white photography was a natural choice, in the spirit of photojournalism and to better capture the mystery of the island. At the same time, Cécile Palusinki's poetry reflects all the secrets surrounding this tree through Soqotri mythology. In addition to French, the text has been translated into English and Arabic to underline the importance of and, above all, respect for this little-known yet very special culture.

© Benoît Palusinski

© Benoît Palusinski

© Benoît Palusinski

This book is a first: since the start of the civil war in Yemen, which began in 2004 following the uprising of the Shiite minority, the Houthists, the island has been difficult to access. The presence of terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda on Yemeni territory does nothing to help the situation. Few (if any) books have been published on the island, either in France or abroad. The two authors had the opportunity to spend 2 months on the island, starting in October 2021.

© Benoît Palusinski

© Benoît Palusinski


Socotra - Des dragonniers et des hommes, by Cécile Palusinki and Benoit Palusinki, published by Melrakki, 42 €.

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