This is a series of images from various sources, which I collected over the years in Baalbek, Lebanon. Some of them are of members of my family, others come from local barber shops, and friends. Local history, tradition, and an impact they have on our lives in the present, have always been of great interest of mine. (D.A.)
1945, Traditional wedding in Baalbek. The men are performing a dance called dabka, playing music, dancing with swords, and singing, all of which have been part of Lebanese weddings for hundreds of years. These rituals are still part of contemporary weddings, bringing the whole community and family together. I recognise one man here, the third from the right, his name is Dohke Solah. He was a well known master of ceremonies. No local wedding would be quite right without him. He performed until the end of his life. (D.A.)
Early 1930s. Tohor Ceremony (Circumcision Ceremony). There are many names in Arabic for this ritual, which can take place at any stage of man’s life, from 3 days old to any stage in his adulthood. The circumcision is usually followed by a big party. This is a photograph of Almortada family, given to me by a local Baalbek barber and a friend, Ali Altatary, The man whose head is sticking out from the frame in front of the photograph, is my father, Khalil Alkarssifi. (D.A.)
1930s. A vote for local elections in Baalbek. My father in the centre again, with a raised arm at the back of the crowd. The third man from the left, Mohammed Yakhy, a local business man. (D.A.)
1954/5. Two cousins of my mother, from Abo Hamdan family, visiting Zahley city from a village of Hazerta. Photo from my family album. (D.A.)
1956, Baalbek Temple. A group of local stone masons, famous for their skills, employed to fix ancient temples not only in Lebanon, but Syria, Egypt, and Jordan. I remember the names of some of them, Aloutah (front row, 1st from the left), Yakhy (front row, 2nd from the left), Balouk (front row, 2nd from the right), Karakala (2nd row, 1st from the left). Photo from my family album.
1889. Diab Alkarssifi, my grandfather in USA. He emigrated to USA as a young man, then came back to Lebanon, met my grandmother and married. He was captured by the Ottoman Empire that was occupying Lebanon at the time, and sent to fight for the Turkish army in the Safar Barlik war in 1914. He never returned. Photo from my family album.
1957, My mother (on the right) and cousin, Baalbek, Lebanon. From my family album.
A note to the reader: Please contact us if you can recognise any of the people in these pictures, so we can update their names.