Moslems Worshipping the Shrines Sacred to Islam, Mecca, Arabia


This photograph of a scene in Mecca, present-day Saudi Arabia, 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. In Carpenter's New Geographical Reader: Asia (1923), Carpenter wrote: “Mekkha has long been the seat of the Mohammedan religion, most of its believers all over the world looking upon it as the holiest place on earth. When they pray they kneel down with their faces in the direction of Mekkha, and such of them as can afford it make long pilgrimages to worship here. They consider the city so holy that for many years strangers were not allowed to visit it. We shall disguise ourselves as Arabs, dyeing our skins and putting on turbans and gowns while we are here.”

Last updated: April 10, 2015