Two Jewish Women Standing, Facing Each Other, in Tunisia


This photograph taken in early 20th-century Tunisia is from the Frank and Frances Carpenter Collection at the Library of Congress. Frank G. Carpenter (1855-1924) was an American writer of books on travel and world geography whose works helped to popularize cultural anthropology and geography in the United States in the early years of the 20th century. Consisting of photographs taken and gathered by Carpenter and his daughter Frances (1890-1972) to illustrate his writings, the collection includes an estimated 16,800 photographs and 7,000 glass and film negatives. This photograph presents two Jewish women in Tunisia, a country that was a French protectorate at the time, although formally a territory of the Ottoman Empire. The dress of the two women shown is known as a maliya. Folded seven times over the abdomen to hide the figure, it also served to highlight a woman’s corpulence, which was considered a sign of beauty and wealth.

Last updated: July 22, 2013