Die erste umfassende Darstellung der Geschichte der traditionellen Salzgewinnung war eine Herzensangelegenheit. Es begann 1993 mit dem Basken Mikel Landa, promovierter Architekt und führender Experte für historische Holzkonstruktionen. Seinerzeit leitete Landa die Restaurierung der hölzernen Salzterrassen im baskischen Añana-Tal, das wegen seiner „einzigartigen und herausragenden Kulturlandschaft“, der „ambitionierten und umfassenden Restaurierung“ und des kulinarischen Wertes der Salzproduktion 2015 den renommierten Europa-Nostra-Preis, eine Auszeichnung für den Schutz europäischen Kulturerbes, erhielt.
Während dieser Arbeit erwachte in ihm der Wunsch, die gesamte traditionelle Salzherstellung der Welt, ihre Methoden, Geschichte und Arbeitsbedingungen der Menschen, in einem Buch zu dokumentieren. Bei seinen Recherchen stieß er 2010 auf den englischen Fotografen Luke Duggleby, der Jahre zuvor die Salzterrassen im tibetischen Yanjing fotografiert hatte. Über Umwege gelangte das Projekt an den mare-Verlag, wo es sofort Unterstützer fand. Seither arbeiten die beiden, gemeinsam mit Mitarbeitern des Verlags, an dem Buch.
Landa und Duggleby wurden Freunde darüber. Sie reisten im Auftrag von mare in die entlegensten Gegenden der Welt, suchten und fanden an 29 Orten auf vier Kontinenten die herausragenden Beispiele für die vielfältigen historischen Salzgewinnungsmethoden.
This comprehensive history of salt production is a labour of love. It began in 1993 with Mikel Landa, a Basque Ph. D. architect an expert in wooden Heritage. At that time started his relation with the Añana Salt Valley, a millenary saltmaking site and an outstanding Cultural Landscape whose restoration he lead for many years. Its integral and comprehensive recovery and the culinary value of the traditionally produced salt had as a result the 2015 Europa Nostra award in the category of Conservation.
During that work a desire awoke on him, to research about the traditional salt production methods around the world, the history and working conditions of people and document them on a book. While carrying out his research, he contacted the English photographer Luke Duggleby, who had been documenting the salt terraces in Tibetan Yanjing years earlier, amazingly the only ones with a certain aesthetic and constructive resemblance with those in Añana.
The project eventually reached Mare, a German publisher. Since then, they have joined forces to carry on that amazing and enriching project.
Landa and Duggleby became friends. They have travelled many times to remote places where the most interesting saltworks were, to complete 29 outstanding examples of the many existing living traditional saltworks in four continents.
a rich and living heritage
The need of salt for living has sharpened the ability of man to invent some of the most surprising production methods. With them, a whole collection of traditional that together with architecture and landscape form special places that survive over time. They are living witnesses of a past time, guardians of cultures and production techniques that are gradually disappearing.
Fragility is the concept that best defines most of those sites. Built with ephemeral architecture in delicate landscapes, the preservation of their use is the best way to secure their survival. Some have been listed as Heritage in their respective countries, others are protected by environmental laws due to their great value and biodiversity. However, many still are abandoned to their fate, without any kind of protection or attention.
We know that there are many other saltworks that deserve being shown in this book. The selection has been difficult. We have selected 29 saltworks searching a balance between types of saltworks, landscapes, production methods and cultures.
NATURE AND CULTURE
Be it a buried salt mass, a white desert or the sea, the existence of salt has generated in men the need to develop a way to obtain that valuable crystal. The form in which that salt is shown conditions the creation of a landscape that mixes natural characteristics while a cultural, say human influence. Its consequence is a whole spectrum of extraordinary landscapes, many of them evolving and of great cultural, environmental or aesthetic value. This book wants to show those landscapes, often remote and raise awareness about their preservation.
Mikel as an architect and Luke as a photographer have contributed, each one of them with their approach to a reality that they have decided to display as it is. They have followed step by step and documented with detail the work that the saltmakers carry out every day since ancient times in long photographic sessions. They have had to learn how to interpenetrate to offer a coherent work and have enjoyed a healthy competence.
an uncertain future
Modernization has led to the abandon of many saltworks in industrialized countries, a process that slowly reaches to every traditional saltworks even those in remote regions. However, some sites in industrialized countries have survived adapting to the twenty first century and understanding which is the main value of their traditional salt: quality.
Every saltworks in this project are traditional except two: the north american, which have been recently created. They have been intentionally introduced in this book to show there is a future for these sites.
Their survival depends on every one of us. While using their salt, these sites will keep being a testimony of the past, while we will benefit from its diary use. But what they give reaches further away and includes aspects such as the landscape, the geology, the technique, the culture and biodiversity.
One of the targets of the book is to raise awareness about the need to preserve such sites. For that purpose exchange of information among the saltmakers is crucial, a task in which we have participated actively during our visits to the sites, a task that we hope to keep doing in the future.