Sunday, March 18, 2007

First comes, perhaps, a howling dervish...

Howling Dervish photo by El Chark studio.

"First comes, perhaps, a howling dervish on his way to a performance, where, with his fellows, he will hurl himself about and howl the name of Allah, until, with foaming lips, protruding eyes, and matted hair, he falls exhausted, as if convulsed with epilepsy. Following him, one may behold, within five minutes, a richly-turbaned Arab, with gold-embroidered jacket; a tattooed Nubian from the upper Nile; a Jew with a long, yellow coat and corkskrew curls; a group of Persians bedizeded with cheap jewelry: a black eunuch escorting a carriage of veiled ladies; groups of Bohemians; venders of melons, dates, apples and pop-corn; a florid-faced English merchant; a Roman Catholic priest; a Damascus camel-driver; a pilgrim just returned from Mecca: a Chinaman with hie queue; a missionay of the American Board, and even a "personally conducted" party of excursionists. Pick up a hand-bill dropped here by a passer-by, and you will find it printed in five or six different languages. As many more strange tongues may possibly be overheard by you while walking from Stamboul to Galata. Such at least has been my experience at this point where two worlds meet,- the Orient and the Occident,- the pontoon bridge of the Golden Horn."

Constantinople as described by John Stoddard in 1897

[1] Pascal Sebah's studio, El Chark, opened in 1857, and it was Sebah who took all the photographs for the album of Ottoman costume published for the Vienna Exposition in 1873. Sebah went into partnership with Policarpe Joaillier in 1888, after which the studio was renamed Sebah & Joaillier.