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Ibrahim El-Salahi Pain Relief at The Saatchi Gallery, London

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Title photo and below, Khartoum

Khartoum, Bibliograph:Institutin HIldburghausen, possibly before 1874.

Sketches from Sudan

From The Illustrated London News and other Colonial Sources

Most of the scenes below of Khartoum, Kordofan and Suakin, come from The Illustrated London News. They were published on December 1st and 8th, 1883, and reflect keen public interest in Sudan following the defeat of colonial forces under Hicks Pasha on November 5th that year in The Battle of Shaykan, near El-Obeid. After the battle, Mahdist forces made El-Obeid their centre of operations and their success encouraged Osman Digna and his Hadendoa tribesmen to join the movement from their lands on the Red Sea coast.

See Sudan Notes and Records for a review of colonial and Mahdist accounts of the battle by E.F. Aglen, in Sheikan Battlefield; https://sudanopenarchive.

Below, details from these engravings.

Below, Suakin, from ILN, Dec. 1st, 1883, p528.

The inclusion of these illustrations should not be understood as approval in any way for British, Egyptian or Ottoman imperialist activity in Sudan. The illustrations are often accompanied by reports and commentary expressing the prevailing colonial prejudices and arrogance of their time. Nevertheless the illustrations below, I believe, bring to life moments in Sudan’s history and the grandeur of her landscapes. They are fascinating in their own right, despite inevitably being filtered through a colonial gaze. Some are acknowledged in ILN as reproductions from works by French and Austrian travelers.

All the illustrations in this blog are reproduced from originals in my personal collection.

The Illustrated London News was founded in 1842. Described as conservative leaning by The British Newspaper Archive, and owing much of its popularity to its reporting of royal events, its founder, Herbert Ingram, was, however, a keen advocate for social reform and aimed to raise awareness of the plight of English poor in his publication, shining a light on factory and mining conditions and the issue of child labour.

Below, an engraving of divers in ILN, (Wikicommons).

See, and

Kordofan Scenes

“Our Illustration of the scenery in the defile of Haraza, with the great mountain, Jebel Haraza, has been copied from an engraving in a French book of travels recently published, Le Désert et le Soudan, by M. le Comte D’ Escayrae de Lauture. The trees are scarce, and seen to be artificially cultivated, each growing in a separate mound of soil collected for the purpose. The villagers have brought out their bales of produce, gum rolled up in ox-hides, ivory, and other commodities, piled up at the tent doors for the traveling traders to purchase; the price will be paid in cotton cloth.” (ILN, Dec.8,1883, p550)

Below, commentary on this engraving and that of Abu Haras, below, from Illustrated London News, Dec.8th, 1883, p550.

Below, Jebel El Ain, Kordofan, ILN, date unknown to me

Khartoum Scenes

“..from a sketch by M.Géroire, who visited those parts on a scientific expedition. This sketch gives a view of the public place in front of the government offices and residence of the Mudir, but most of the streets are narrow and crooked… there are one or two buildings of stone, among which is the French Roman Catholic Mission house with its church and schools and several others decently constructed of brick, a coptic church, a commodious mosque, military barracks and arsenal, a hospital, and the residences of a very few European merchants ….” (ILN Dec.8,1883, p550)

Above, Khartoum ILN, Dec.1st, 1883.

Below, view of Khartoum, from The English in Egypt with Life of Gordon, 1898


“Eight to ten river steam-boats belonging to Khartoum are employed in its trade, which consists in some exports of ivory, hides, gum- arabic and ostrich feathers, not to mention the large contraband trade in negro slaves.” (ILN, Dec.8th,1883).

Below, Fashoda, the chief town of the Shillook country, on the White Nile, (ILN, Dec.1st, 1883).

If you are interested in western accounts of Sudanese life, you might enjoy Kambala, which includes 1920s colonial accounts of life in Nuba Mountains and Kambala customs.

This is a cultural post for Women’s Education Partnership.

See Latest News and At a Glance for more about our work.

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