All photos on this post © Guillaume Herbaut.
IN THE UKRAINE, A COUNTRY WHERE FEMALES ARE VICTIMS OF SEXUAL TRAFFICKING AND GENDER OPPRESSION, a new tribe of empowered women is emerging. Calling themselves the “Asgarda,” the women seek complete autonomy from men. Residing in the Carpathian Mountains, the tribe is comprised of 150 women of varying ages, primarily students, led by 30 year-old Katerina Tarnouska. Reviving the tribal traditions of the Scythian Amazons of ancient Greek mythology, the Asgarda train in martial arts, taught by former Soviet karate master, Volodymyr Stepanovytch, and learn life skills and sciences in order to become ideal women. Little physical documentation existed on the tribe, until recently, when renowned French photographer, Guillaume Herbaut, met the Asgarda back in 2004 in the midst of the Orange Revolution.
Finding their involvement with the revolution intriguing, Herbaut spent fourteen days photographing the tribe for “Le Retour des Amazones.” As apparent in several of the photos, the Asgarda idolize Yulia Volodymyrivna Tymoshenko – a key figure in the Orange Revolution and leader of the “Fatherland” party. Hoping to convey “the tradition, the legend, and the uneasiness among women in Ukraine”, Herbaut’s photographs portray devout and austere females in traditional and newfangled garb brandishing braids, battle axes, and boxing gloves.
Here’s their website: Asgarda
While Herbaut is uncertain if the photos are a good representation of the tribe, he adds “They were very happy when they saw the pictures. They want to show their strength.” When asked of his impressions of the Asgarda prior to and after photographing them, he remarked, “My first impression was ‘Asgarda is the root of a new sect’. My second impression was ‘Asgarda is the root of a new sect’!” New sect or the rebirth of a previous one, the Asgarda are reclaiming their lost independence, and, if Herbaut’s photographs are any indication, they aren’t afraid to fight for it.
This article was written by Jenna Martin, for PlanetMagazine. All photos are by and © Guillaume Herbaut. This post via PlanetMagazine.