Jews. 1905–1913. Expedition Photography: Karaites, Kurdistan and Mountain Jews




The album was created as part of the REM project – the winner of the Second Competition of Museum and Exhibition Grants of the Russian Jewish Congress for the development of projects in the field of Jewish culture. Expedition photos on the life of other groups of non-Ashkenazim Jews, i.e. Karaites, Kurdistan and Mountain Jews, are but modestly presented in the Museum’s collection. In the spring of 1905, the Museum’s curator, prominent Orientalist Konstantin Alexandrovich Inostrantsev (1876–1941) visited Crimea with an “excursion,” during which he took several pictures of the synagogue (kenesa) in the town of Eupatoria – the court yard and the interior of the Grand Kenesa. Inostrantsev also succeeded in capturing the junior gazzan, future Gacham of the Karaites S. M. Neiman standing on the pulpit in the synagogue with the Torah in his hands. K. A. Inostrantsev, as the curator of the Eastern direction in the activities of the Department of Ethnography, corresponded with correspondents about the collection of materials. One of the correspondents was Alexander Nikolaevich Petrov, who served from 1905 to 1908 in the Urmia Agency of the Accounting and Loan Bank of Persia. A. N. Petrov purchased several collections of objects for the museum and offered to purchase photographs in which he captured some aspects of the life of the peoples of Persia, including Kurdistan Jews. In 1907, Alexander Alexandrovich Miller, a Department of Ethnography employee and a well-known Caucasus expert and researcher (1875–193?) brought a small collection of photographs presenting episodes of life of the Jewish community in the city of Kuba: part of the Jewish quarter and a group of women with children. Other pictures, mostly portraits of Mountain and Georgian Jews, were received from D. I. Yermakov (1845-1916) also published in this catalogue. In 1914, a collection of photographs was acquired from archeologist Nikolai Ivanovich Repnikov (1882–1940) who took more detailed pictures of the famous Grand and Minor Kenesa, including the obelisk erected in memory of the visit of Alexander I. Unfortunately, the everyday life of members of the Karaite community is not shown in the Museum’s collection: except for a collection of studio photo portraits of the 19th and early 20th century donated by Crimean Karaites in 1958 no other images are available.


Karina Solovyeva, Head of Photography Department, curator