A group of travellers from an ‘Oriental travel club’ from Leipzig, Germany, posing at a photographer’s studio in Constantinople attired for fun in ‘local costumes’ in 1906. The Ottoman Empire for centuries was the mysterious East, bringing increasing numbers of visitors from the West as the means of transportation and safety improved. No doubt some of these travellers saw commercial opportunities during their visits and decided to try their luck in the Levant.
What appears to be a custom made somewhat homorous card of a German traveller to the Levant from 1908. The text reads ‘When I went, when I came back’ suggesting the ‘turning native’ of his time in the ‘mysterious East’. No doubt such attitudes would have coloured the Westerners views of Levantines who living all their lives in the Levant would have been at times very familiar and at other incomprehensible in an era when ‘multiculturalism’ was not even a concept. It is only a century on that such notions of plurality yet separateness is universally known in the West, though still with growing pains of adjustment and re-alignment of views of nationality and belonging.