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Photographer's Note

When a house was built in Zanzibar, the door was traditionally the first part to be erected. The greater the wealth and social position of the owner of the house, the larger and more elaborately carved his front door. Many doors are studded with brass spikes. This is thought to be a modification of an Indian practice of studding doors with sharp spikes of iron to prevent them from being battered in by war elephants. In 915 AD, an Arab traveller to Zanzibar reported that the island abounded in elephants. Further, in approximately 1295 Marco Polo also noted that Zanzibar had many elephants. There are, however, no elephants in Zanzibar now. The brass studs seen today are purely for decoration. At last count, there are 560 carved doors in Zanzibar.

At first, the girl said she did not want to have her picture taken and she hid behind the closed door. Gradually, she came out from behind the door. At first just her head, then more and more of her until she stood posing in the open door frame. Msichana Haya means "Shy Girl" in Kiswahili.

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Additional Photos by Michael Levy (MichaelLevy) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 58 W: 0 N: 94] (651)
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