Thursday, October 11, 2018

Algerian postcards depict 19th century Jews

With thanks: Benjamin

This selection of postcards depicts Jews in 19th century or early 20th century Algeria. Some are hand-coloured.

The Jewish women are likely not to have objected to being photographed, and would anyway have made more interesting subjects since they had their faces uncovered.

 It is interesting that there are comparatively few Jews wearing European dress, although Algeria was a French colony since 1830. Algerian Jews became French citizens after 1870, except in Ghardaia in the south of the country.

 Some of the women look quite opulently dressed. This is possible because they had their photographs taken on special occasions, such as on the eve of their marriage when it was customary for the Jewish bride to wear jewellery and an embroidered dress for the Henna ceremony.

Others are photographed in a suggestive pose.

The overall impression is that the majority of Jews were poor and downtrodden. Under French rule, there arose a middle class of assimilated petits bourgeois who no longer spoke Arabic and often felt fiercely French.

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