The Printing House (Founded a Few Years Earlier) in Mecca
This rare photograph is from Bilder aus Mecca (Images from Mecca), an album by the Dutch orientalist Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje (1857–1936) that is one of the earliest works by a non-Arab to document Mecca and the hajj in photographs. Hurgronje studied at Leiden University, where he earned a doctorate in Semitic languages and literature with a dissertation on Mecca and the pilgrim rituals and their historical background. He became a teacher at the Leiden training college for East Indian officials. In 1884–85 he was granted a leave of absence to go to Jeddah and Mecca to study Arabic and pursue research. He lived in Mecca for approximately six months, where he converted to Islam and adopted the name Abdul Ghaffar. In 1888, he published Bilderatlas zu Mekka (Photographic atlas of Mecca), a compilation of photographs that he had taken and collected in the city. Hurgronje published Bilder aus Mecca the following year as a supplement to the earlier work. Scholars have concluded that the photographs in this album were by al-Sayyid ʻAbd al-Ghaffār, an Indian physician living in Mecca who was a friend of Hurgronje.
E.J. Brill, Leiden
Title in Original Language
Die (vor wenigen Jahren errichtete) Druckerei in Mekka
Type of Item
1 photographic print in an album : albumen
- Badr El-Hage, “The First Non-Arab Photographers of the Hijaz,” Saudi Arabia: Caught in Time 1861-1939 (Reading, United Kingdom: Garnet Publishing Ltd., 1997).
Last updated: April 10, 2015