Rare Interesting Ethnographic Photos of Eritrea During 1940s British Occupation

[Album with 200 Original Gelatin Silver Photographs Including Two Real Photo Postcards with Many Ethnographic Images, Taken and Collected by a British Officer Showing British Occupied Italian Eritrea, During WW2].

Ca. 1942-1943. Oblong Small Folio album (ca. 24,5x33 cm). 37 card stock leaves with tissue guards. With 198 mounted gelatin silver studio and snapshot photographs of various size, including one large photo ca. 12,5x17,5 cm (5x7 in), twelve large photos by the studio of Aldo Baratti ca. 10,5x15 cm (4 x 5 ¾ in), and over 170 photos ca. 6x9 cm (2 ¼ x 3 ½ in. The rest of the photos are ca. 8x10,5 cm (3 ¼ x 4 ¼ in) or slightly larger/smaller. With two real photo postcards ca. 9x14 cm (3 ½ x 5 ½ in), both with Italian captions in negative. Over forty period ink captions on the mounts (some captions relate to several photos on the same leaf). Period blue cloth album fastened with a string; hand-painted vignette on the front board. Album with mild wear of extremities, but overall a very good album of interesting strong images.

Extensive collection of interesting studio and vernacular photographs of Eritrea and its people, taken during the British Military Administration over the former Italian colony in 1942-3.
The album gives a vivid picture of the country in the early 1940s, shortly after the end of the Italian rule. The compiler (apparently a British officer who served in Eritrea at the time) includes several lively views of Asmara, which had the title of the most Italian city in Africa and was nicknamed “La Piccola Roma” or “Little Rome” by Mussolini. The Asmara photos show wide boulevards filled with modernist buildings, cars and bicycles; there is also a view of the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary (1923). A series of six photos depicts frescos “on the walls of the Church Army Hotel, Asmara, was to be Musso’s H.Q., Eritrea.” The real photo postcards show Asmara’s Corso del Re avenue, known as Viale Mussolini in the 1930s. The photos of Massawa show the Governor’s palace during the day and illuminated at night, “Marine Barracks,” “Marine Point,” harbour and hand-painted “wall decorations.” There are also nice views of the town of Decamere (Dekemhare), the road from Asmara to Massawa with the compiler’s note “a drop of 8000 feet,” “Gonda [Gondar?] Road,” railway tracks, ancient ruins, numerous photos of Eritrean mountains, river valleys, plains, cliffs, camel caravans, etc.
The majority of the smaller photos are of ethnographic interest and depict Eritrean villages, markets and portraits of the native inhabitants including farmers, merchants, chiefs, priests, families, young men and girls, “travelling musicians,” dancers, camel herders, hunters etc. The portraits depict people from different tribes and focus on costumes, decorations, hairdos, scarring, etc. One of the photos portrays a young girl standing next to a “Shell Benzine” canister. A dozen images by the pre-WW2 Asmara studio of Aldo Baratti shows Decamere (Dekemhare), a group of Eritrean huts with the compiler’s note “What – pre fabs?,” Eritrean mountains, and rock formations, group portraits of the native people, etc.
Once a part of Mussolini’s Africa Orientale Italiana, Eritrea was occupied by the British troops during the East African Campaign of WW2 and fell under the U.N. administration in 1951. For the second half of the 20th century, Eritrea lived through tumultuous times of ongoing war for independence from Ethiopia, which it achieved in 1993. The post-independent Eritrea remains in economic crisis and maintains a one-party state and a highly militarized society. Tourism to the country was almost non-existent until Eritrea signed the peace treaty with Ethiopia in 2018; thus photos of Eritrea from this period are very rare.
Overall a rare collection of original photos of Eritrea showing the country including many ethnographic views as it was at the end of the Italian rule.

Item #305

Price: $2,250.00 USD

See all items in Africa