Rare stencil-coloured images of early 20th century Delhi during a Muslim festival
Delhi, Great Capital of India (1909)
Original title: Delhi grande ville de l'Inde supérieure
(Original) Delhi grande ville de l'Inde supérieure
(Country Spesific) Dehli die Grosse Stadt in Vorderindien
CategoriesBlack and White Colonialism Delhi Documentary Islam Mosque Muslim Muslim Holiday People Prayer Procession Prostration Religious Festival Short Silent Film Travel DocumentaryShortBlack and White, Colonialism, Delhi, Islam, Mosque, Muslim, Muslim Holiday, People, Prayer, Procession, Prostration, Religious Festival, Silent Film, Travel
We see Delhi at the time of a major Muslim religious holiday. The streets are teeming with people and many are wearing splendid clothes. From time to time dances are improvised to the sound of strange instruments. We attend a religious service at the Great Mosque then the ceremony of the purifying baths immediately followed by a splendid view from the outside of the Mosque where hundreds of faithful prostrate themselves on the ground in their white costumes. We also see the Imperial Palace (14th century) and the Koutab (13th century).
Source: Pathe Freres - Translated
"Delhi at the time of a great Muslim religious festival" is the helpful - to a point - context to this film offered by Pathe's catalogue of the time. Which festival, we're not told. Certainly the streets throng with people and floats, while a number of street performers are on hand to entertain (and presumably profit from) the faithful. From there, the camera moves on to the magnificent Jama Masjid mosque, where worshippers wash themselves in the courtyard's waters before assembling for prayers.
This was one of a great number of films made in exotic locations by the Pathe Freres company to showcase its often breathtakingly beautiful stencil-colour processing. Though the images here are mostly well-preserved, time hasn't been altogether kind to the colours of the BFI National Archive's copy, which aren't as radiant as they would once have been. But there's some real charm here nonetheless. The German intertitles in this copy testify to the huge international demand for such films.
This film documents a Muslim festival in Dehli and manages to capture the size and grandeur of the Mosque. This is really a gem from the past from a part of the world I'm probably never going to visit, and it documents normal people celebrating their beliefs. I like how the film captures many aspects of the festival, including some great far-away shots.