The Riding Camel (hajīn) of Sharīf Yaḥya, One of the Sons of Sharīf Aḥmad, Whose Father Was the Famous Great Sharīf Abd èl-Muṭṭalib Who Died in 1886 ... with Saddle Covers (batāt) That Are Richly Embroidered with Silver. The Bridle Is Held by the Slave of Yaḥja; near Whom Yaḥja Himself Is Standing in Rider Outfit, and to the Left Are Two Sharīfs of Lesser Rank in Long Outfits


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.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

E.J. Brill, Leiden

Title in Original Language

Das Reitkameel (Hèdjīn) des Scherīf Jah̲ja, eines Sohnes des Scherīf Ah̲med, dessen Vater der berühmte 1886 verstorbene Grossscherīf Abd èl-Mut̲t̲álib ... mit einer reich mit Silber gestickten Satteldecke (batāt)

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print in an album : albumen



  1. 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: January 8, 2018