By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)

Burkina Faso; Fulani artist. Muslim at prayer. Photo by Christopher D. Roy.

In Africa as in many parts of the world, the equestrian is a symbol of power and status. This association with power is particularly potent in sub-Saharan Africa, where the presence of tsetse flies, whose sting is fatal to large animals, makes keeping horses a particularly difficult task. As a result, important art forms have been created to decorate horses, including elaborate colorful leather saddles, bridles, halters, cruppers, and cinches. Stirrups and bits are elaborately cast of brass based on North African models. Here, a devout Muslim man with a beautiful Arabian horse offers his prayers in the direction of Mecca. Because the hour of prayer finds him alone in a stubble field, the space on which he prays automatically becomes a holy space, a virtual mosque.