east baghdad

Iraqi-Assyrian Christians attend Mass inside the Our Lady of Salvation/Deliverance Syriac Catholic Church - Baghdad, Iraq

4

1. A Decorated Ketubbah from Herat, Afghanistan, 1898

2. A Magnificent decorated Esther Scroll, from Bahgdad ca. 1850

3. An Important Ketubbah from Teheran, 1870

4. A Richly Decorated Marriage Contract from Bukhara, late 1800s

Silence at Daybreak

This morning brews the same
In spite of the refrain of bombs
And the muffled screams from afar

Good morning,
As a nightmare swirls in the east  
Severing, the bloodlines of kings  

Their cold hard numbers are scrawled
Into the corners of our hearts
To emerge here and there
In a flicker of compassion

Bless our broad seas
And our bountiful skies
That drown out the pangs
Of a distant slaughter

March 11, 1917 - Fall of Baghdad

Pictured - Maude enters the city of the caliphs.

The Allied war against the Turks had swung favorably. British and Imperial forced gained momentum at the beginning of 1917, overrunning Ottoman outposts near Gaza and then, in Mesopotamia, the ancient Persian capital of Ctesiphon. The ultimate objective of Britain’s Palestine campaign was Jerusalem, on March 11 they completed another historic victory to the east when Baghdad fell.

The last Turkish defenders, under Khalil Pasha, evacuated the city that day, ceding it to 45,000 triumphant British and Indian troops, who entered the city with General Maude riding at their head. German officers blew up the radio station before they left, although the British did capture six brand new airplanes, freshly delivered to the Turks.

The Imperial soldiers entering the ancient city received a bewildering reception: “Persians dressed like Joseph in long silken coats of many colours; red-fezzed oriental Jews in misfit European clothing; handsome Armenian refugees who had spent the night huddled in Christian churches, fearful of their fate if any of the fleeing Turks learned of their existence; lordly turbaned Muslims in black flowing robes - all turned out to cheer them as they tramped in through the Southern Gate. It was a gala display a fiesta - something that had not taken place when Townshend’s men had tottered painfully through the same streets.” Townshend’s forces had been captured at Kut the year before and led on a painful death march to Anatolia, where those who survived still languished.

Englishmen ignorant of history must have been astounded by the city, but others far off reckoned the symbolic value of their victory. “That’s the end of the German dream of domination in the Near East,” recorded British orientalist Gertrude Bell. “Their place is not going to be in the sun.”