'Westliche Seite des Berges'. Photographer: al-Sayyid ʻAbd al-Ghaffār


Download PDF (12 MB)

Search within this record

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: Visual Arts.

About this record


Genre/Subject Matter:

This landscape view shows ‘the west side of the Mount [‘Arafah]’ as well as the Plain of Arafat or ‘Arafah. Located 21 km southeast of the Masjid al-Haram, the plain, which extends 6km from east to west and 12 km from north to south, and the 70 metre high granite hill at the centre of it 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 and their tents while in the left middle ground beasts of burden, including horses, camels and donkeys can be seen.

A boy standing by the tent in the foreground at left and facing the camera has a shaved head and wears the two piece garb, consisting of two white seamless sheets, associated with being in the state of ihram . At right a camel is couched; this is the same camel visible in X463/14.

The negative has had hand-work applied, creating a drawing-like quality throughout where the original plate may have been over-exposed and where the photographer wished to pick up some small details, such as the face of the boy at left.

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

This is the third (left hand) of three photographs taken from the same vantage point, which form a panoramic view over the plain. The first and second are X463/14 and X463/15 respectively.


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

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


190 x 243 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

Archive information for this record

Access & Reference

Original held at
British Library: Visual Arts
Access conditions


Archive reference

History of this record

1886-1889 (CE, Gregorian)

Use and share this record

Share this record
Cite this record in your research

'Westliche Seite des Berges'. Photographer: al-Sayyid ʻAbd al-Ghaffār, British Library: Visual Arts, X463/16, in Qatar Digital Library <https://www.qdl.qa/archive/81055/vdc_100023514790.0x00000d> [accessed 5 March 2024]

Link to this record
IIIF details

This record has a IIIF manifest available as follows. If you have a compatible viewer you can drag the icon to load it.https://www.qdl.qa/en/iiif/81055/vdc_100022564627.0x000001/manifestOpen in Universal viewerOpen in Mirador viewerMore options for embedding images