By Islam El Shazly
A picture is worth a 1000 words, even more so when they are from this calibre, then they really become a a window to the past, they provide moments in time that are now lost. In a sense like the great art of the ancient world, left for us by master artisans, on walls of temples and villas, they might not be as intricate but they are still every inch fascinating.
Since the images were mostly taken around the year 1900, we can glimpse a life that is as close to us in time, but yet might be from a different world altogether. And sometimes, living in such times as we are now has its own benefits and perks; take for example the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, the level of disrepair it had reached in the first picture is disheartening, while if you have been to Egypt recently you can see how lovingly and beautifully it had been restored since then.
The next picture is even more emotionally confusing, you’d be hard pressed to bring an emergency vehicle through there, but the street looks very neat and clean—as clean as a mud paved street can be. And as tight as the buildings are, there’s still the privacy afforded by the Mashrabeyas, there’s even room for a curious little girl in the bottom left corner of the picture, taking a peek at the strange man in her street with his strange contraption.
The third image taken in 1908 shows that not much has changed, tourists still love a felucca ride at Aswan, just as they loved it back then. Only it served many more purposes back then than just ferrying tourists around. Can you see the massive sail boat docked in the background? As for the founder of Modern Egypt Mohamed Ali Pasha; well he sits a top his horse in all his grandeur right in front of the Gelateria Siciliana, built between 1869 and 1873 by French sculptor Henri Alfred Jacquemart, it remains in Al-Mansheya Square and a central point in modern Alexandria.
One thing that I found common in a lot of the images is how content the people looked, like the man sitting next to the aloe plants in Al-Esbekeyah Park grounds—only the name remains. It seems to me that the more advanced our culture becomes, the more material it becomes, the less content we become.
You can see beyond the pillar to the sea in the distance, a view that is no longer there. That pillar in Alexandria, erroneously called Pompey’s Pillar, has been the object of fascination for the lantern slides photographers, this is just the third that I know of in this collection.Tags: Alexandria, Aswan, Brooklyn Museum, Egypt, Esbekeyah, Featured, Felucca, Ibn Tulun, Jacquemart, Mohamed Ali Pasha, Mosque, Pompey