By Mark McConville
STUNNING photographs of the native Bedouin people of Palestine at the turn of the 20th Century have been brought to life in colour.
Among the images is a female ‘quack’ doctor in Jericho, known as such because she lacked legitimacy to practice medicine.
Additional shots show a young man playing a bagpipe in the street, whilst another depicts a warrior on horse-back carrying a traditional Az-Zaġāyah hunting spear.
The vivid colour photographs are the work of French bank technician Frederic Duriez, from Angres, who caringly brought the photos into the 21st century.
“The following photos were taken at the end of 19th century,” he said.
“They show the Bedouins during the change. When modern governments took control of the original desert, many Bedouins were forced to abandon their purely lifestyle and adopt a semicircular or seated, urban way of life.
“These photos are beautiful. They date from 1898, and yet you would even believe in black and white that they are current. The Bedouin dress and customs has not changed much today.”
The Bedouin is a grouping of nomadic Arab peoples who have historically inhabited the desert regions in North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, and the Levant.
While many Bedouins have abandoned their nomadic and tribal traditions for a modern urban lifestyle, many retain traditional Bedouin culture such as retaining the traditional ʿašāʾir clan structure, traditional music, poetry, dances (such as “saas”), and many other cultural practices and concepts.
Urbanised Bedouins often organize cultural festivals, usually held several times a year, in which they gather with other Bedouins to partake in, and learn about, various Bedouin traditions—from poetry recitation and traditional sword dances, playing traditional instruments, and even classes teaching traditional tent knitting.
Traditions like camel riding and camping in the deserts are still popular leisure activities for urbanised Bedouins who live within close proximity to deserts or other wilderness areas.
Frederic explained why he chose to colourise these images and his favourite of the set.
“I wanted to mount another face of the Arab world than the one that is showed today,” he added.
“My favourite image is the Bedouin couple in front of tent, Adwan tribe, because this was the longest to colourise and the most complex too.
“It can range from two hours to colourise a simple portrait to seven or eight hours for an image with more details and character. In addition there is also historical research to undertake.”
Striking images like these are featured in British author Michael D. Carroll’s new book on the colourisation of historical images. For more information visit: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Retrographic-Historys-Exciting-Images-Transformed/dp/1908211504