No announcement yet.

Is Lalla Fatma n'Soumer's photo real or fake?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Is Lalla Fatma n'Soumer's photo real or fake?

    Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh,

    Everyone knows the great Mujahida and Martyr Lalla Fatma n'Soumer who was an important figure of the Algerian resistance movement during the first years of the French colonial conquest of Algeria.
    Lalla Fatma n'Soumer was born in a family belonging to the Rahmaniah way. her father Muhammad ibn Isa was a leader of Zawia of Sheikh Sidi Ahmed Omezyan of the Rahmaniah way and her mother was Lalla Khadija. she opted for a life of hermitage and worship. she excelled in religious sciences and took the affairs of the Rahmaniah zawia. she was influenced by her brother who mastered different religious and secular sciences which qualified him to lead the Rahmaniah zawia in the region. she learned from him the various religious sciences and became famous in all Kabylia region.

    this is a famous photo attributed to her:
    and in Wikipedia page we find a clearer photo
    based on the photo above, different artists painted portraits of Lalla Fatma n'Soumer such as:

    But the question for which I opened this topic is:
    Is this photo really Lalla Fatma n'Soumer's or is it somebody else?

    We may not be able to prove the woman in the photo is really Fatma n'Soumer, but proving she is NOT is very possible.

    There are many websites with old photos of Algeria from the late 19th century. we find landscape cityscape and people's photos. among these we find photos of women in their beautiful traditional clothes of the different regions of Algeria. for example, women of Ouled Nail, others from the desert or from Kabylia... and of course, women from Algiers the capital.

    While browsing these many photos, one photo of a woman in metropolitan clothes attracted me:

    this is a postcard. many similar postcards were popular in that time. but what attracted me in this photo is the necklace and ornaments on the head and the face that look very close to the above famous photo of Lalla Fatma n'Soumer.
    notice what's printed below the photo "Belle Fatma" which means "Fatma the Beautiful". Probably the name of the woman in the photo is Fatma, a very common Arabic name. adding “Belle” (beautiful) to the name of some women in this type of postcards was very common.
    I used the name “Belle Fatma” as search keywords and found more postcards and photos of the same woman in the same ornaments:

    And finally I found this photo which is an identical photo of the first one attributed to lalla Fatma n'Soumer but more clear and detailed.
    and here they are side-by-side for comparison purpose: Photo attributed to Lalla Fatma n'Soumer (left). postcard of "Belle Fatma" (right):
    Here again with the same ornaments:
    And here fullbody:
    And here is a clearer bigger photo. Notice the metropolitan traditional clothes:
    I want to add that all the above photos and postcards are available for sale in websites such as Ebay and you can find them by using keywords such as “Belle Fatma” and “carte postale ancienne”. In the description of these photos, It’s mentioned that Fatma in the postcard is a belly dancer and a courtesan.
    Notice in the bottom of some of these above postcards is written J.Geiser. and I believe it’s the name of the photographer.
    I used Geiser as a search keyword and found his full name was Jean Geiser. He has a Wikipedia page in Czech language (nudity warning). after translating the page I found out he was a Swiss photographer born in 1848 and died in 1923. He started his photography career in 1868 (it’s important to note that Lalla Fatma n’Soumer died in 1863) . the main subject of this photographer was women from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. And they’re mainly of naked women (probably dancers or ladies of the evening)

    I have no doubt that the woman in the photo attributed to Lalla Fatma n'Soumer is not the real Fatma n'Soumer for the following reasons:
    - First, if the first photo -attributed to lalla Fatma n'Soumer was really her photo. this means the rest of the photos are also hers. then a question comes to our mind: why don't we see these many photos (and there are more) as well when we read about Fatma n'Soumer? why we only see the first –unclear old- photo and it's said -it's THE ONLY UNIQUE AND RARE photo-?
    - Second, if these photos were really of Fatma n'Soumer, then the photographer of these postcards, Geiser, would have written that on the photos. Fatma n'Soumer was very famous at that time. why writer only "Fatma" (which is a common name) instead of writing Lalla Fatma n'Soumer and get more sales for the postcard.
    - Third, Jean Geiser, the photographer of that photo probably never met the real Fatma n’Soumer. And if he did, he would have been young before he started his photography career.
    - Fourth, from reading Lalla Fatma n'Soumer's biography, we learn she was a conservative religious woman who had big knowledge of religious sciences. Can we believe that she wore such clothes -revealing her neck and ears- (which are not Islamic)? shouldn't she be wearing conservative clothes of her time?
    - Fifth, in that famous photo of Fatma n'Soumer, not much details can be seen. but the rest of the photos we have above reveal that the woman is wearing typical traditional metropolitan clothes. but knowing that Fatma n'Soumer is from the mountainous Kabylia, shouldn't she be wearing Kabylia typical clothes?

    Many of old Algeria postcards depict Algerian Kabyle women in traditional Kabylia clothes. and looking at these photos allows us to conclude that the clothes in the photo attributed to Lalla Fatma n'Soumer are not from kabylia.
    And here are some photos (notice the type of Kabyle jewelry the woman wears on her head)
    And here notice the type of traditional Kabyle clothes that cover the body in a more conservative -Islamic- way. don't we expect a conservative Muslim woman to wear the same?

    Now for the reason that photo is attributed to Lalla Fatma n'Soumer, I have two possible answers:
    a- perhaps somebody read the name "Fatma" on that postcard and thought she is Fatma n'Soumer so he claimed so. other people, without proof or verification, just followed and claimed the same.
    I think this is improbable because the name "Fatma" doesn't appear in the famous photo attributed to Fatma n'Soumer. so how could someone read it? perhaps this person read it in the clear postcard (maybe #8 in this post?) then edited the photo and added some aging effects to remove details. such effects are very possible with softwares such as Photoshop. if this is the case then it's a deliberate attempt to deceive the masses which had sadly worked...
    b- perhaps attributing this "fake" photo to Lalla Fatma n'Soumer was intentional in order to distort her image. this isn't far fetched as there are many who try to distort the history of Algeria and its great heroes as well as Islam and famous religious figures.

    My final conclusion is that the famous photo attributed to Lalla Fatma n'Soumer in history books and internet articles and documentaries as "the only rare and unique photo" is, in fact, fake. it's a photo of another woman (probably a belly dancer or courtesan) as was proven in this article. It was taken by a photographer called Jean Geiser (famous of his nude photos of women).
    in this case, we need to realize this and correct our historical information and stop attributing this false photo to Lalla Fatma n'Soumer. we also have to spread awareness about this fact so that all people know the truth.
    in the opposite case (supposing the photo is really of Fatma n'Soumer), then we need evidence and proof. we also need explanation as to why the woman resembles the one in those "Belle Fatma" postcards.

    This topic is open for discussion and I might have missed something. let me know what you all think.

    Wassalaamu alaykum
    Last edited by AbuMuhajir; 5 June 2014, 16:43.

Unconfigured Ad Widget