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Beautiful Baghdad


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I made this slideshow to link to MEMORIES OF EDEN, the book Mira and I edited based on the reminiscences of her mother, sent to us in note form over a period of 20 years.

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Beautiful Baghdad

  1. 1. Iraq
  2. 2. A journey through…
  3. 3. …old Baghdad
  4. 4. My motherlived in this remarkableplace at a remarkable time
  5. 5. A hundred years ago the scene had hardly changed since Biblical times
  6. 6. Water from the river was supplied by sakka with goatskins
  7. 7. Country women carried stacks of yogurt to sell in the city’s markets
  8. 8. Street barbers were much in demand despite the lack of privacy
  9. 9. Bread and drinks for sale
  10. 10. Kebab seller, Rashid Street
  11. 11. Porters were capable of carrying incredible loads
  12. 12. When Violette was born,in 1912, Mesopotamia had beenpart of the Turkish OttomanEmpire for almost 400 years.
  13. 13. The Jewish communitywas the oldest inthe world. It formed40%of the populationof Baghdad Source: OTTOMAN YEARBOOK, 1917
  14. 14. The Ancient WorldROUTE OF ABRAHAM AND THE PATRIARCHS(Early 2nd Millennium B.C.)
  15. 15. Muslims, Christians and Jews livedpeaceably together in this old Eden.
  16. 16. ‘JUDEN-VIERTEL’ The Jewish Quarter
  17. 17. The city
  18. 18. Inside the Great Synagogue, dating from the 5th century B.C.
  19. 19. Shanaashiil loggias projected over the streets and riverbank
  20. 20. Rashid Street
  21. 21. Café life formed the centre of the business world for men
  22. 22. Taxi! Arabaaaana!!
  23. 23. Omnibus
  24. 24. On the Tigris
  25. 25. A sfeenee barge bringing cargo upriver from Basra PHOTO by GERTRUDE BELL
  26. 26. A guffa, the type of coracle in daily use for transporting everything
  27. 27. This is firewood
  28. 28. Melons
  29. 29. There was only one crossing point on the river: a bridge made of boats
  30. 30. The bridge also spanned the centuries: from 1458 (left) to 1920A Persian miniature, now in the British Library
  31. 31. It was given the name Maude Bridge in 1918 after the British army chief Sir StanleyMaude
  32. 32. At home
  33. 33. Baba was the first merchant to build a qasr (‘castle’ or ‘palace’) on the banks of the Tigris
  34. 34. Baba: Menashe Ishayak Nana: Khatoon Ishayek
  35. 35. OLD CITY • THE NEW HOMEIt was two hours from the old city
  36. 36. After the crowded city, the children thought they were in paradise
  37. 37. VIOLETTE WROTE:‘It seemed as if we were flying on a magiccarpet alongside the songbirds thatnested there and filled the air with musicalnotes of incredible beauty.‘We were, after all, in the land ofthe Garden of Eden.’
  38. 38. Violette’s grandparents, Heskel and Ghalla A 19th century engraving from their time
  39. 39. Inside a qasr: a typical courtyard, with taraar cloisters beneath tarma balconies
  40. 40. The kabeshkaan, where Pessah items were stored out of reach
  41. 41. Family lifePaintings by ELI SAWDAYEE
  42. 42. Making sherbets, in various fruit flavours
  43. 43. Making silaan datesyrup
  44. 44. The ‘titipampa’ mattress-fluffer at work
  45. 45. Making rose-water with an alembic still
  46. 46. The delicate art of depilation
  47. 47. Preparing for Yom Kippur: the kappara and the shohet
  48. 48. ‘Saturday of the Ladies’: an excuse to go visiting
  49. 49. School
  50. 50. L’Alliance Israélite Universelle
  51. 51. Violette’s teachersSett Farah andMme. Sabagh(seated, front row) Alliance teaching staff
  52. 52. Markets
  53. 53. 1920-1940
  54. 54. The Mandates, 1920 The Mandates, 1920 FRANCE GREAT BRITAIN S YY R AA S RII BAGHDAD P A LL E S T N N E PA ESTI I E Palestine TransjordanPalestine TransjordNn IRAQ IRAQThe Modern WorldTHE COLONIAL DIVISION OF SPOILS(Early 20th Century A.D.)
  55. 55. British troops entered Baghdad in 1917 after defeating the Turks
  56. 56. In 1921 the Mandate was proclaimed
  57. 57. Britain’s top diplomat, Sir Kinahan Cornwallis
  58. 58. Prince Faisal
  59. 59. Faisal’s coronation, with British officials in proud attendance (Cornwallis, left)
  60. 60. The new king
  61. 61. Faisal with leading members of the Jewish community
  62. 62. Important supplies arrive
  63. 63. Drive on the Left!
  64. 64. The city was growing and expanding
  65. 65. Imperial Airways began regular flights
  66. 66. The British were clearly expecting a long stay
  67. 67. In fact the Hunt continued until 1955, long after they had left!
  68. 68. The Nairn desert bus enroute to Palestine, with sister Fahima (1931)
  69. 69. 1932: the Mandate ends and an ‘independent’ Iraq joins the League of Nations
  70. 70. American cars were available, but the old bridge looked just the same in 1932
  71. 71. 1933: Violette (left) and sister Daisy visit Palestine
  72. 72. Back in Baghdad, social clubs (naadi) and the cinema became popular
  73. 73. Jewish musicians from Baghdad Radio, in the 1930’s
  74. 74. Women adopted western dress at home but often wore the abaaya to go out (Violette, right)
  75. 75. Violette inside the qasr
  76. 76. There were picnics such as this one to Hilla, suffering from a water shortage
  77. 77. Violette with her future husband, David
  78. 78. David’s father, Shm’oon, wearing the sidaara
  79. 79. Violette with Baba and Nana in the garden of the qasr
  80. 80. Country life
  81. 81. Basra
  82. 82. Babylon: a British officer surveys the ruins
  83. 83. British soldiers astride the Great Lion of Babylon, 1921
  84. 84. Al-Kifil: the tomb of Nabi Hesqeil
  85. 85. Kerbala
  86. 86. Kadhimain
  87. 87. Oil streams to the surface in northern Iraq, possibly near Kirkuk
  88. 88. 1941
  89. 89. Haj Amin el-Huseini,Grand Mufti of Jerusalemand friend of Hitler,inspecting SS stormtroopsafter fleeing Iraqdisguised as a woman From a German magazine cover
  90. 90. Hitler Youth, Iraqi style, commandedby the Mufti and Rashid Ali al-Gaylani
  91. 91. MAYThe black month of Rashid Ali Rashid Ali al-Gaylani
  92. 92. Whipped up by the Mufti and the German ambassador, the mob takes to the streets
  93. 93. The Iraqis strike back, helped by the Luftwaffe
  94. 94. June 1: Ambassador Cornwallis and the British army commander, Maj.-Gen. George Clark
  95. 95. Moving on
  96. 96. Rashid Street in the post-war years
  97. 97. In all the heat people still slept on rooftops, even downtown on Rashid Street
  98. 98. Boys still flew their kites from there, just as they did in Violette’s day
  99. 99. GREEN ZONE • SITE OF THE QASR Baghdad today
  100. 100. The qasr was demolished and a new hotel, the Babylon, was built in its place
  101. 101. As it must have looked during demolition
  102. 102. It is directly across the river from the new U.S.Embassy, top left (right, the reverse view)
  103. 103. ‘Our Baghdad, my Baghdad, is gone for ever. I justwonder if the new builders found the treasure thatBaba placed in the foundations of the qasr, on theright-hand side under the mezuza for good luck atthe front door.
  104. 104. ‘He told us about it in great secrecy: it was anamphora of gold coins with a letter in ancientHebrew that he himself had buried at night after themasons had gone home, walling it in with bricks inthe morning.’ VIOLETTE SHAMASH
  105. 105. When Violette was born, two-fifths ofBaghdad’s population was Jewish. Todaythe number of survivors can be countedon two hands.
  106. 106. V.S. 1912-2006
  107. 107. Paintings courtesy ofEli Sawdayee, Nilesh Mistry and Lorna Selim
  108. 108. © 2012 Mira & Tony Rocca