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Rare documentary photographs of the inaguration of the Hindiya Barrage, south of Baghdad, Iraq, in 1891 with Arabic, Ottoman and European participants of the project.


4 photographs: albumen prints, 1 image: circa 11 x 16,5 cm (4.3 x 6.5 inches), 3 images: circa 12 x 17 cm (4.7 x 6.7 inches), contemporary mounted on thick cards: 22 x 29 cm (8.6 x 11.4 inches), (light staining, annotations in pencil and black pen in Ottoman and French in margins, old annotations, scribbles and signatures verso, margins with cracks and rubbed corners, minor damages to the photos).



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Not many information on the first Hindiya Barrage are known today. The barrage was built for agricultural purposes by a French engineer Paul Schönfelder from 1885 on, when Euphrates started diverting from its natural course and crossing the banks at the city or Al-Hindiya, south of Baghdad. The construction, which was performed by Arab inhabitants, with a permission of local sheiks, was finished in 1891, when our photos were made.

According to the bibliography the barrage collapsed in 1901 (Kiyotaki 2019, p. 202) or 1903 (Lebon 1955, p. 52) and was replaced by more stable construction, which was also better recorder in the literature, from 1909 on.

Our photographs showcase the following events:

1. Construction of the barrage with local inhabitants transporting the stones.
2. Inauguration of the barrage with a group portrait of Arab and European protagonists, including the local inhabitants, who participated at the construction.
3. Arab sheiks, which cooperated with French engineers at the construction of the barrage by employing their people at the building site. Paul Schönfelder is standing in the shadow of the tent in the back row.
4. A group portrait of Europeans, connected to the project, and local dignitaries. The man sitting in the center is a prominent Ottoman statesman Giritli Sırrı Pasha (1844-1895), who at the time served as the governor of Baghdad Vilayet. Paul Schönfelder, recognizable by his round glasses and brown beard, is seated in the front right. The photograph was probably made at the opening of the barrage.

References Cf.: J. H. G. Lebon, The New Irrigation Era in Iraq. Economic Geography , Jan., 1955,

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