Tuesday, 21 August 2012

1960's Jerusalem (Part 2)

This is part 2 of the collection of photographs published in the 1969 book "Jerusalem" by Colin Thubron. All captions are from the book. The photographer was Jay Maisel.

A group of Arab women in typical Palestinian clothes – long muslin or floral dresses with ample muslin scarves – climb the steps up to the Dome of the Rock.  The pillars belong to one of eight stairways leading to the shrine.

El-Kas, the cup is the principle abolition fountain in the sacred precincts of the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa Mosque.
It is surrounded by low stone benches upon which men sit to perform the obligatory washing of hands, heads and feet before praying in the Mosque.

In the Muslim community, piety arouses sincere respect, and no more so than when a householder proudly displays evidence of a pilgrimage to Mecca.
During his absence, the family of a pilgrim to Mecca traditionally paints the outside of the house with patterns and symbols.
The patterns once served as charms to safeguard the traveller, but now they are simply decorations that advertise his journey.

Restored to its original lustre with modern gold-plated aluminium, the Dome rests upon the perfect octagonal of the shrine.
Over a hundred-thousand sheets of brass gilt – Legend says that they were sheathed with pure gold – covered the first Dome of 691. When it collapsed in 1016, the Dome was re-built in sombre lead.

 Emblazoned around the exterior of the Dome of the Rock are verses from the Koran and formal patterns symbolising the harmony of Allah’s Universe.

The entrances to the Dome are orientated exactly to the compass; the South entrance shown here faces Mecca. “God, the Eternal” is written in the right-hand square above the porch, and repeated in mirror image on the left one, while Koranic verse in the shadows under the arch exhorts the faithful to pray in the direction of Mecca.
The entrances to the Dome are orientated exactly to the compass; the South entrance shown here faces Mecca. “God, the Eternal” is written in the right-hand square above the porch, and repeated in mirror image on the left one, while Koranic verse in the shadows under the arch exhorts the faithful to pray in the direction of Mecca.

Two rings of marble columns with gilt capitals – seen through the open bronze doors – form a double passage-way around the interior.
The wooden ceiling is decorated with enamel paints, and the columns are linked by thick beams, overlaid with stone and bronze.

Ancient columns taken from Roman and other buildings lift up the gilded Dome.
Seventy century mosaics gleam beneath arched windows, some containing 16th century stained glass. They help make the building a treasure house from different centuries.

Under the Dome lies the shrine’s physical and spiritual centre – the scarred and chiselled Rock itself. The mysterious light filled hole may have been used to drain blood from animal sacrifices in Israeli times.
No one knows who cut the ridges along the top and right-hand edge, but devout Muslims believe they were made by the Archangel Gabriel as he struggled to keep the holy Rock from ascending to Heaven with Muhammad. The reliquary on the Rock in front of the thick column at centre-left holds two hairs from the prophet’s beard.

A kaleidoscope of arabesques, the inside of the Dome is the masterpiece of 14th century artists imported from India, who worked in plaster.
The Arabic writing in the circular bands near the rim and in the centre has been inscribed and re-inscribed by successive Sultans in the traditional Muslim manner of recording benefactors and their gifts.

Stepping out into a quiet street in the Muslim Quarter, an old Arab wears a tasselled Fez.
This headgear dates from the days of the Ottoman Turkish rule in Jerusalem, which came to an end in 1917 when the British took over.

The domes of houses bubble up over the Arab Quarter in the Old City. Rising above them are the black tips of a few cypress trees, and a recent growth – a forest of television aerials.


Suleiman the Magnificent, (above right) attended by two courtiers in the Turkish minature, ruled Jerusalem from 1520-1566.
The last of the great Sultans, he beautified the city in many ways, before three centuries of decay and corruption closed over it.

(above left) On the furrowed skin of an elderly woman, dark tattooed patterns still show clearly. Today the practice of tattooing women’s faces is rapidly dying out.
(above right) In a simple act of faith, and unaware of everything except her devotion, a Jewish woman kisses one of the rough stones of the Wailing Wall. A magnet for Jews from all over the World, the Wall attracts thousands of worshippers every year.

A woman reaches from the woman’s side to comfort her son. (At the Wailing wall)

Stationed in the men’s section to give out ritual scull-caps to those who need them, an official drowses in his glass booth.

Impatient at a dearth of prayer tables, this man has relinquished a cart to bring one to his waiting congregation.

A bearded Hasid lights Hanukah candles to symbolise the re-dedication of the Temple after its destruction by Antiochus Epiphanes, over 2000 years ago.


An air of timeless piety pervades a Mea Shearim Street, with black garbed men in peiyot or side-curls and women wearing wigs over their shaved heads. (Above left)
An air of timeless piety pervades a Mea Shearim Street, with black garbed men in peiyot or side-curls and women wearing wigs over their shaved heads. (Above right)


Under the watchful eye of their Rabbi, the boys in a synagogue school sit at their desks, ready to interrupt their religious instruction for lunch.

Although a page in his Talmud is torn, this rapt scholar can recite for his teacher the missing passages from memory after years of study.

An elderly Hasid continues a lifetime’s devotion by silently scrutinizing the Talmud. The Hasidim believe that such study helps to bring them closer to God.


(Left) At a synagogue door two Hasidim speak Yiddish: many hold Hebrew to sacred for daily use.
(Right) Bending to ask after a crippled friend’s well-being, a Hasid demonstrates the concern that members of the Mea Shearim community show for one  another. 

(Right) A young Israeli policewoman directing traffic in the heart of the new City of Jerusalem combines an air of command with a certain chic.
She is a Sabra, and Israeli born and educated Jew.

(Left) In one of the new Jerusalem’s main Streets, afternoon sunlight gleams on the traffic which is thickening as rush hour approaches.
Buses belong to the Nationalised bus company loom over small European built cars.

Shoulder to shoulder blocks of a New Jerusalem suburb reach upwards into a tranquil sky.
Constructed on rolling hills to the North of the Old City, the development is occupied largely by recent immigrants.

The Curved roof of the shrine of the book, in the grounds of the Israel Museum copies of the shape of the lids of earthen ware jars in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Some of the scrolls are now displayed in glass cases inside the shrine. (Below)

A donkey stands patiently in the rain, waiting for its load of petrol cans to be filled with kerosene. The fuel will be delivered to homes throughout the city to be used for cooking and heating. Jerusalem Winters can be dismal.

His head swathed in the age-old protection of the kaffiyehs, an Arab takes his afternoon ease on the municipal grass of a well-kept Park in the new city.

A beggar woman huddles against a wall on the broad steps leading down to the Damascus gate.

The ornate outline of the upper portion of the Damascus gate in the cities Northern Wall frames the silhouette of an armed Israeli soldier, on the alert after a warning of terrorist activity in the Muslim Quarter.

Christianity symbols are produced by the boxful for tourist consumption.

An Arab schoolboy glances back into the shadows of an arched passageway.
Such crooked narrow streets, many with stone steps, lace the Old City. The ramp facilities handcarts delivering goods to houses and shops.

Beneath stone arches dating from medieval times, a milling crowd of shoppers and tourists fills David Street, one of the Old Cities main thoroughfares.

A blind man, marked as a pious Muslim by his white turban, approaches a Mosque. The boy may be his pupil or perhaps just a passer by fulfilling his duty to help those whose disability shows that God has touched them.

(left) Among the relics of the British mandate period that survive in Israel, are a few red letter boxes, incongruously marked with the insignia of George V. Some are forlornly out of action, while others are still used.
(Right) In a new use for the past, the stump of a Roman column serves as the base of a street lamp.

Against a background of posters, a vendor sells bread, eggs and falafel – an Arab labourer’s breakfast.

(Left) Robed in rich brocade, a priest of the Armenian Church is prepared for mass by an unseen acolyte before the Tomb of the Virgin.
(Right) Shrouded against the wind, an Ethiopian Monk rests by his roof top cell

A tall windmill in the Jewish Quarter of Yemin Moshe marks the first tentative Jewish attempts, dating from 1860, to settle outside the City walls.

On a hillside west of the city rises the symbolic tree-stump form of the John F. Kennedy Memorial, the gesture of a flourishing Israeli State.

Under Jerusalem’s walls two men, identified by their dress as Jew and Arab, casually reduce to human terms the gulf between their people.

This video contains near all the pictures from this blog, set to music. No Captions.

Hope you enjoyed this little look back in time.
Sandra Barr

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