By Islam El Shazly
One of the most delightful things about looking into a collection like the Egyptian Lantern Slides is the level of content one sees on the faces of the simple Egyptian people. While the nature of photography back in those days called for stern faces and rigid bodies for the sake of exposure, their smiles or a curious look would defiantly make their way onto their faces.
It was not the perfect world, but they were content and they were proud. Not the annoying pride that would normally ruin its owner, but proud of who they are and what they do. The ploughmen and their buffaloes in their field tells you as much, it’s a massive field for just two men and a plough to take care of, but they didn’t care, they got up at the break of dawn, ate, prayed, and went about their business systematically. Did they complain? No one knows, but their faces say they were happy.
Likewise is the Bishari in the last picture, same smile on the face and no footwear to speak of! The camel herder on the other hand seems bemused by the photographer as much as the photographer is fascinated with him.
Another thing one notices in these pictures is how clear the sky and horizon are, no smog, no smoke, and no pollution, you can see for miles as can be seen from the Mokattam Hills picture, you don’t just see the citadel in the background, you can see clear through to the other side of the Nile and the dunes in the horizon.
In case you are wondering about the donkey market in Giza, remember that Giza for the most part was a rural community in the countryside, with lots of farmlands and fields, so it was only natural to have a donkey market, since donkeys were the beasts of burden of choice back in the day!
If you wish to learn more about Egypt’s biodiversity then here’s a great resource for you: Biodiversity Monitoring & Assessment Project. A joint project between the Italian government, Egypt, and the UNDP. The website is available in Arabic, English, and Italian.Tags: Aswan, Biodiversity, Bisharin, Brooklyn Museum, Cairo, Conservation, Egypt, Featured, Giza, Lantern Slides, Nubia