1928. Oblong Quarto, ca. 24x31,5 cm (9 ½ x 12 ½ in) with 53 original gelatin silver photographs each ca. 12x7 cm (4 ¾ x 2 ¾ in), mounted recto and verso of 12 green leaves, all captioned in period manuscript white ink on the mounts. Period olive stiff card album fastened with a string, with the title written on the front cover in period manuscript white ink. Mild wear at album extremities and spine, and mild water stains on the covers, but overall a very good album with strong, sharp photographs.
A lively visual account of a special performance of a traditional Maghreb equestrian show – Fantasia or “lab el baroud,” which took place in a forest near the Morsott community of the Constantine province (northeastern Algeria), on the 1st of August 1928. The album portrays numerous well-dressed up French spectators – apparently upper-class French residents of Algeria or travelers from France, gathering before the performance and having lunch. Three interesting photos show the preparation of méchoui (whole sheep or lamb spit roasted over fire) and couscous. Over thirty photos (including eight specially marked as taken by “M. Giraud”) depict the Fantasia - gathering of the Arab horsemen, distribution of cartridges, directions given by French administrators M. Battistini and M. Larmande, the riding show itself and parade led by Caïd d’El-Meridj (chief of a nearby town), an Algerian rider bearing a flag of the mixed community of Morsott, Algerian spectators and “les curieux,” et al. Overall a fascinating visual source on the history of Algerian fantasias during French colonial rule.
“Throughout Algeria’s history, fantasia has been a popular sporting event. Fantasia, or lab el baroud (the gunpowder play), is an event where a group of horsemen charge their horses at the same speed to a certain location, where they must fire muskets or muzzle-loading rifles in the air at the same time, with the goal of sounding as if only one rifle has been shot. Fantasia remains popular today” (Teach Mideast.org).
Price: $750.00 USD