20 x 28 cm
“We are crying for German; because of the drought German has
died for the rain to fall”.
Through his lens and ink-pen, Bulgarian photographer Martin Atanasov conjures the magic of ancient pagan rites, re-performing and illustrating the rain-making “German” ritual. Pray for rain is an intense homage to a long-forgotten lore, a credo belonging to a time before the Orthodox Church, before the Slavic people settled down on Bulgarian land.
In ancient times, prolonged drought would put the life of entire villages
based upon agriculture in jeopardy. A Bulgarian folk tradition prescribed
how to make the rain fall once again to save the crop.
All of the girls and women of a village would gather at the river bank and fashion a clay doll with defined face and a disproportionately large penis. The clay figure was known as “German”, a male spirit of fertility, dying and then resurrecting with the revival of vegetation.
Only girls and young women performed the ritual, no male was allowed.
The girls would then start mourning and lamenting for the doll.
Asked by the others why they were crying, they would answer,
“We are crying for German; because of the drought German has died for the rain to fall.”
The sorrow had to be heartfelt and the tears had to be real. At the end of the rite and after the mourning, the women used to dispose of the doll, probably a substitution of earlier human sacrifices, in a river or a well.
Rain was then expected in the following days.