Memories of Eden

Source: Violette Samash, Memories of Eden: A Journey Through Jewish Baghdad (Virginia Water: Forum Books, 2008), p. 89

Text: In the same lane, I loved watching the tcheraakh khashab – wood-turner – who worked on a kind of lathe making poles for our bannisters. spindles, chair legs and so on. But best of all, on the right-hand side of the lane as we went to school, was the man with the sandouq el-welayaat: a magic lantern (the name literally means a ‘box of the countries’). It was truly magical. It had a narrow front with a big lens fixed on each of its other three sides. Inside was a scroll, with pictures lit by a lantern. The man turned the scroll and narrated a story about each picture, starting every time with ‘Shoof ‘indak Ya salaam!‘ (‘Look here, what a wonder!’). I can still remember some of them, all to do with the Ottoman days: ‘Shoof ‘indak Ya salaam!’ This is Istanbul with its towers and castles … Here is ‘Antar with his beloved ‘Abla! This is a German gun…’ And so on. It was cinema to us.

Comments: Violette Samash (1912-2006) was a member of the Jewish community in Baghdad before the Second World War. Her memoir, compiled posthumously from letters, notes and essays, culminates in the Farhud, the Nazi-inspired pogrom of 1941. The ‘magic lantern’ she describes sounds not unlike the street bioscopes of India, albeit with still images rather than short clips of film.

This entry was posted in 1920s, Iraq, Memoirs and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *