These four prints are four unrecorded photographs of Sadiq Bey's famous series on Mecca and Medina, the earliest photographs of these holy places of Islam.
Sadiq Bey's Collection de Vues Photographiques de La Mecque et de Médine won the photographer the gold medal at the International Geography Exhibition in Venice in 1881. These extraordinary images record the Hajj, showing some of the Holy sites around Mecca.
Born in Cairo in 1832, Sadiq Bey trained as a military engineer. It is not known when, or from whom, Sadiq Bey learned to take photographs but it was most probably through one of the resident photographers in Egypt. In 1880 he was appointed the treasurer of the Mahmal, the ornate cloth to cover the Ka'ba brought each year on a special litter to Mecca. In his capacity as treasurer he accompanied the Mahmal to Medina and Mecca from September 1880 until January 1881 and, equipped with his camera, he succeeded in producing the series of photographs of which four are offered here and which are now considered to be some of the earliest known surviving photographs of the region, those of the Ka'ba taken under great secrecy.
For a further discussion on Sadiq Bey's collection of photographs of Mecca and Medina, please refer to the note for the Twelve Photographs of the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina by Sadiq Bey sold in these Rooms, 8 April 2008, lot 156.