The Braids

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When Manfredina was admitted to a special boarding school to become a teacher, she had to give up many things. The first regulation she had to comply, right at the outset, was snipping off her long thick brown braids, which she kept forever. Today, I am the keeper of those braids. They are more than 100 years old, but their texture and color are intact. That hair is the repository of a trauma, and mark the end of a free life. This is why I treasure them, as a perpetual reminder to live life exactly as I wish, without renunciation and without constraints.

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The long braids of the women in this beautiful photograph remind me of the braids my grandmother wore as a child, which I treasure to this day. The photo was taken by my grandfather at the church in Jorguçat during the Orthodox Easter celebrations in 1942. My grandfather’s photo archive consists of candid shots of Italian soldiers going about their informal daily activities, military exercises and gatherings, and civilians, plenty of civilians. I hope that by disseminating these photographs more stories will emerge.