Damascus anno

Licorice seller, late 19th c.

It is interesting to see that when the web culture of a city turns towards the city itself, it focuses the attention and industry of its participants on different topics in each city. On the Moscow net, for example, local history is quite strong. In Bucharest – evidently – the reconstruction of the destroyed old city. In Istanbul the discovery of the local culinary network. In Tehran that of the islands of culture – cinemas, exhibitions, concerts – that are many, but their program is not easily available, only through blogs and forums.

Coffee seller, late 19th c.

Damascus in the 19th century was a sleepy provincial town of the Ottoman empire. It was endowed with some importance only by the meeting of the two main roads of Meccan pilgrimage coming from Anatolia and Persia, respectively. The city began to develop only from the 1920s when it became the center of the French Middle East mandate, and from 1946, after the independence of Syria. Perhaps it is due to the fast modernization and to the nostalgia inevitably following it that local web forums endeavor first of all to reconstruct the topography and everyday life of pre-independence Damascus on the basis of old photos. Here we publish some of them.

Butcher in the Galilee neighborhood, early 20th c.

Fountain in the Galilee neighborhood

Shoemaker, ca. 1900

Women grinding wheat

Bread seller, 1890. Photo by Chalil Raad

“While we were passing through the crowded bazaars this after-noon, I was very much interested and amused by the number and variety of the street calls or cries. Two lads, carrying between them a large tray loaded of bread, cried out, Ya Karim! ya Karim! That is not the name for bread. No, it is one of the attributes of God, and signifies the bountiful or generous; and since bread is the staff of life, the name implies that it is the gift of the Bountiful One”. W. M. Thompson: The Land and the Book, 1886

Sword maker, ca. 1900

The Hamidiyye bazaar

Fruit seller

Bedouin musicians in the bazaar. Photo by Félix Bonfils

A distinguished Bedouin family in the bazaar

The famous Nofara cafe seen from the back door of the Omayyad mosque, 1930

Bab Touma (Touma Gate)

Syriac Christian funerals in the Bab Touma neighborhood, 1900

Metal workshop in the Bab Touma neighborhood

Barber in the old town, 1900

3rd class of the Damascus-Medina railway (Hijaz Railway) opened on August 22, 1908

Distinguished Jewish family in the old town, 1901

Jewish wedding, 1904

City woman, Druse woman and peasant woman from Damascus. Photo by Sebah, 1873

Giant tree near the Sarouja market, ca. 1890

Camels at rest near Bab Touma

Camel market, late 19th c.

Syriac students in the Maktab Anbar school, 1904

Provisional school of Armenian students who fled before the genocide of 1915

Police academy, 1918-20

Police academy, 1918-20

The French army executing Syrian freedom fighters at Marjah square, 1926

King Faisal visiting Damascus right after the independence

Victoria (today Semiramis) Hotel, 1898

The Bab al-Saghir cemetery, late 19th c.

Street in Damascus, ca. 1890. Photo by Félix Bonfils

Salhiyyieh street, ca. 1920

6 comentarios:

Megkoronáz A.J.P. dijo...

I love the Druse woman's hat. It's like a chimney.

languagehat dijo...

Wonderful, wonderful pictures. Thank you for this post.

Studiolum dijo...

Thank you for the enthusiasm. I felt the same enthusiastic when I first discovered these incredible photos on the Damascus net.

The woman’s hat is called a tantour, and it is usually covered with a long veil falling on the shoulders of the woman. It is said to be the ancestor of the typical 15th-century French woman’s hat-with-veil – through the mediation of the Crusaders – as we see on the miniatures of the period.

Μαριανα dijo...

This is jaw-dropping... bravo.

Studiolum dijo...

Thanks a lot! Some more Middle Eastern vintage photos will follow.

Megkoronáz dijo...

I remember the French one -- it's known as a hennin, I read. Thanks. It's a great post, as the others have said & I should have.