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March 6, 2013

Coptic pilgrimage

Figure 1: The stereoscopic card titled “Coptic pilgrims from Egypt, bathing in the Holy Waters of the Jordan, Palestine”, c.1900.

The tradition of pilgrimage by the Copts to the Holy Land to visit the Judeo-Christian sacred sites is old and goes back to the Classical Period; i.e., prior to the Arab occupation in AD 640; and it continued to our present day albeit with rude interruptions by Muslim rulers or politico-social instability, or sometimes with self-imposed restrictions for political convenience and expediency. We shall talk about the Coptic pilgrimage to the Holy Land in a series of articles, and we shall cover several aspects of it.

Today, however, as a matter of an opening, I simply reproduce for the reader a photograph that was published in Washington, U.S., c. 1900[1] as a stereoscopic card[2] titled “Coptic pilgrims from Egypt, bathing in the Holy Waters of the Jordan, Palestine”.[3] It is 20.3cm x 30.5cm in dimension, and was produced by the famous American photographic publisher, John F. Jarvis (b. 1850). The photographer was probably E. Totherick, but that is not certain. The stereoscopic technique, by presenting two offset images separately to the left and right eye, is supposed to create a 3D image, increasing the illusion of depth.

In 1900, Egypt was under British rule, and the Copts regained their religious rights without hinderance.

[1] C. April 27, 1900.

[2] Stereograph, gelatin silver.

[3] The original is kept at the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA (Call Number: LOT 13711-4, no. 239).

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