Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Haj In 1885 And Now

CNN has featured an interesting clip of images and audio dating from 1885 of Mecca and of the Haj ritual. It's accompanying article tells us that Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje, a Dutch scholar of Oriental cultures and languages, and an advisor to the colonial government of the Netherlands East Indies, visited Mecca in 1885 taking photos and making sound recordings. He had converted to Islam, and was therefore allowed to gain entry to the city.

The article is an interesting read, especially since it seems Snouck had to leave his camera equipment behind to a local Saudi, who continued making pictures, possibly becoming Mecca's first home-grown photographer. (My thanks to Gul Chotrani who sent the article to me).

Contrast the scenes in the CNN clip (it has an annoying advert at its start) to the following photograph; one of the many posted by The Boston Globe's The Big Picture of Muslim pilgrims circling the Kaaba at the center of the Grand mosque in Mecca during the annual Hajj pilgrimage.  (Click it for larger photograph).

Photo © REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

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