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'Der Berg ‘Arafah während der jährlichen Pilgerversammlung (von Süden aus gesehen)'. Photographer: al-Sayyid ʻAbd al-Ghaffār [‎13r] (1/1)

The record is made up of 1 collotype print. It was created in 1886-1889. It was written in Arabic. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers Documents collected in a private capacity. .

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Genre/Subject Matter:

This landscape view shows the 'Mount‘Arafah, during the annual gathering of pilgrims [hadj] (as seen from the south)’ as well as the Plain of Arafat or ‘Arafah. Located 21km southeast of the Masjid al-Haram, the plain, which extends 6km from east to west and 12km from north to south, and the 70 metre high granite hill at the centre of it – visible here on the horizon at centre – are stations of the hadj. Mount Arafat is located northeast of the plain and is also known as Jabal al-Rahmah or Mount of Mercy.

On the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah , known as the Day of Arafat, just before noon, pilgrims gather on the plain to perform wuquf or ‘standing before God’, as can be seen in this image: this is a pillar of the hadj and must be undertaken in order the pilgrimage to be valid. In this image the background and middle ground are populated by pilgrims’ tents.

Most of the pilgrims visible here – male and female – are wearing the two piece garb, consisting of two white seamless sheets, associated with being in the state of ihram . The men have clearly shaved their heads as a part of the ritual cleansing ceremony undertaken at the beginning of the hadj in order to enter into the state of ihram .

In the foreground, two camels are couched at left, an awning or tent billows in the wind and a crouching man turns to face the camera, though most other figures face away from it.

The negative has had hand-work applied, creating a drawing-like quality throughout , where the original plate may have been over-exposed.

Arabic script written directly into the image has been erased subtly, but is visible upon close inspection in the lower centre of the image as well as in the central sky area of the image.

This is the first (central) of three photographs taken from the same vantage point, which form a panoramic view over the plain. The second and third are X463/15 and X463/16 respectively.


Above image, on the right, in ink: ‘XIII’

Temporal Context:

According to Durkje van der Wal in his publication Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje: The First Western Photographer in Mecca, 1884-1885 (Amsterdam : Manfred & Hanna Heiting Fund, Rijksmuseum, 2011, pp. 43-51), the photographs in this publication that pertain to the hadj (this image included) likely date to August 1888 since this was the period of the last hadj before February 1889, the date Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje received the final consignment of images.

Extent and format
1 collotype print
Physical characteristics


193 x 245 mm


Collotype print, pasted into volume


The print is in good condition with minor surface dirt and light abrasions throughout.





Written in
Arabic in Arabic script
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'Der Berg ‘Arafah während der jährlichen Pilgerversammlung (von Süden aus gesehen)'. Photographer: al-Sayyid ʻAbd al-Ghaffār [‎13r] (1/1), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, X463/14, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 5 March 2024]

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