Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Of Old

My posts became monotonous recently. So, I’ll try to write about something else though it is not far from Iraq. I chose some old pictures showing different places in Iraq about 100 years ago. An Iraqi author, or an English one (I don’t recall), once wrote that the British soldiers were shocked by the appearance of Baghdad when they entered to it in 1917. They had heard a lot about Baghdad the scene of Arabian Nights. On entering Baghdad they discovered that it was a small town which was closer to a village than to a city.
The following one shows a place which is nowadays downtown. It is some kind of quay or a wharf. In Iraqi such a place is called (Sheri’aa). It shows means of transport used in rivers at that time. One of these (appears in the center) was the (Kelek or Chelech) which is made of sheep or cow inflated skins tied together tightly to form a float. Keleks were used to transport agricultural products from places north to Baghdad since the Tigris direction of flow is toward south. The skins, to be sold later in Baghdad, form the float and, for example, a cargo of watermelon is put on the float. Not much effort is needed to row since the stream would push it to Baghdad. Needless to say on reaching Baghdad the Kelek was to be dismantled and the skins are to be sold, and one could return back home on foot.

The picture shows another means of transport. It is the (Quffa) or, as it sounds in the Iraqi dialect, (Guffa). It is clearer in the following picture:

Guffa is made of stem of rice plant. After harvest these stems are interwoven to form the shape of Guffa and then to be coated with tar. The picture title is (Home of some wealthy Jewish citizen). It is amazing to learn that more than one third of Baghdad citizens, in 1908, were Jews (Hanna Batato, The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1978). It shows that the Iraqi society was much more tolerant than nowadays.
Another means of transport is some kind of boat called (Mash’hoof). The following picture shows the Mash’hoof:

Mash’hoof is used, till nowadays, in the marshes or (Al’Ahwaar) in the southern parts of Iraq. Al’Ahwaar were so many in Iraq, starting from the southern outskirts of Baghdad heading toward Basra. Marshes began to disappear as a result of building more dams on Tigris & Euphrates in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. The outskirts of Baghdad looked like this:


Anonymous James said...

Fascinating. It would be great to see more old pictures

4:23 AM  
Blogger Rosemary said...

These pictures are beautiful. I could be partial to older pictures, however, lol. I love marshes. Those little boats were ingenious! I hope you are well. Have a nice day.

8:24 PM  

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