View of the Courtyard of the Masjid al-haram from Snouck Hergronje’s Bilder aus Mekka on Collections Sphere from Khalili Collections
Bilder aus Mekka was published in 1889 by the Dutch orientalist Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje. Consisting of 20 collotype prints mounted on 18 leaves, it is one of the earliest photographic records of the Hajj, preceded only by photographs taken in 1881 by Muhammed Sadiq Bey. Bilder aus Mekka came one year after Bilder-Atlas zu Mekka. This was a collection of lithographs including images predominantly of Mecca and portraits of pilgrims, taken by Snouck himself on his research trip to Jeddah and Mecca between August 1884–August 1885. Alongside this he published a work that focussed on the history of Mecca and the origins of Islam. Following on from the publication of these two volumes, and having not been able to photograph the hajj himself, Snouck used images taken by a Meccan physician named ‘Abd al-Ghaffar of the Hajj of August 1888 to publish Bilder aus Mekka.
Snouck met ‘Abd al-Ghaffar during his stay in Mecca in 1885, and although ‘Abd al-Ghaffar was already familiar with photography, Snouck is supposed to have helped refine his skills and he became Snouck’s photographic assistant during the six months he was in Mecca.
The photographs include views of Mecca, Mina and Arafat, and depict the various stages of Hajj. Although traces of ‘Abd al-Ghaffar’s signature are still visible on the photographs, there is clear evidence of an attempt to erase them by Snouck. A summary text written by Snouck opens the volume and a list of plates precedes the images.