2004.130.12954.1
Sa‘ar people drawing water at Manwakh well

Photographer: Wilfred Patrick Thesiger
Date of Photo: November 20 - December 3, 1947
Continent: Asia
Geographical Area: Western Asia (Middle East and Near East)
Country: Yemen
Region/Place: Hadhramawt Governorate [Muḩāfaz̧at Ḩaḑramawt]; Raydat as Say‘ar [Raydat aş Şay‘ar]; Manwakh
Cultural Group: Bedouin Sa‘ar
Format: Film Negative 35mm
Size: 35 mm
Acquisition: Wilfred Patrick Thesiger - Accepted as Art in Lieu of Inheritance Tax by H.M. Government and allocated to the Pitt Rivers Museum, March 2004

Description

Portrait of two Sa'ar Bedouin women and a man hauling water from Manwakh well. They are using rope and a wooden pulley to haul water out of the well. In the background a few people wait near the well.

Publications history

Contemporary Publication - This image has been published in Wilfred Thesiger, A Vanished World (London, 2001), p.35: 'A beautiful girl drawing water from a well at Manwakh. Her hair was braided, she wore silver ornaments and several necklaces - some of large cornelians, others of small white beads - and round her waist she had half a dozen silver chains.' [PG 18/08/2008]

Exhibition Publication - This image has been published in Eric Langham, Toby Goaman-Dodson and Lyn Rogers (eds.), Mubarak bin London: Wilfred Thesiger and the Freedom of the Desert, exhibition catalogue, Jahili Fort, Al Ain, 2008, p.75: 'Yemen, 1947. A group of Sa'ar drawing water from a well in Manwakh, in the Hadhramaut./ They are using their own ropes, pulleys, and portable scaffolding. Thesiger noticed they mixed rock salt into the freshwater before watering their camels./ The blurred figure with bare arms is a woman. Thesiger recalled, "Her hair was braided, she wore silver ornaments and several necklaces, some of large cornelians, others of small white beads and round her waist she had had a dozen silver chains" (A Vanished World, 35).' [PG 30/03/2009]

Research Notes

Research Notes - 'The Sa'ar are nominally under the Qaiti Sultan of Mukalla, but are in fact completely independent although they use Shibam as their market. They are a large and powerful Badu tribe who have been aptly described as the wolves of the desert. They are hated and feared by all the south Arabian desert tribes, whom they have harried unmercifully, raiding as far eastward as Mughshin and the Jaddat al// Harasis, and northwards across the Empty Quarter to spoil the Dawsir, the Qahtan and the Murra': W. Thesiger, 'A Further Journey Across the Empty Quarter', Geographical Journal, 113 (1949), pp.21-22. [PG 16/11/2009]

Research Notes - 'The Saar, a large and powerful tribe, have aptly been described as "the wolves of the desert". They were hated and feared by all the south Arabian desert tribes, whom they harried unmercifully, raiding as far eastward as Mughshin and the Jaddat al Harasis, and northwards to the Yam, the Dawasir, and the Murra. Boscawen had hunted oryx in their country in 1931, and Ingrams paid a cursory visit to the edge of their territory in 1934; otherwise no Englishman had been there': Wilfred Thesiger, Arabian Sands (London, 1959), p.188. [PG 17/11/2009]

Research Notes - 'We visited the well at Manwakh, in the Aiwat al Saar which// drains to the sands and of which the Raidat is a tributary. I was glad to have a look at this well, knowing that I must start my journey across the Empty Quarter either from it or from Zamakh. We found some Saar watering camels and goats. The water was fresh and I noticed that they mixed rock-salt in it before watering their camels. They raised the water by hand, the long ropes of palmetto fibre running over pulleys attached to a wooden scaffolding round the well. The southern Bedu do not use camels to draw the well-ropes, as is done on the deep wells in the Najd, although villagers in the Hadhramaut use camels and oxen to raise the trip-buckets from which they water their cultivations. After they had finished watering they their ropes, pulleys and leather watering-troughs away with them. There was a very lovely girl working with the others on the well. Her hair was braided, except where it was cut in a fringe across her forehead, and fell in a curtain of small plaits round her neck. She wore various silver ornaments and several necklaces, some of large cornelians, others of small white beads. Round her waist she had half a dozen silvers chains, and above them her sleeveless blue tunic gaped open to show small firm breasts. She was very fair. When she saw I was trying to take a photograph of her she screwed up her face and stuck out her tongue at me. Salim, thinking to help me, had told her not to move and explained what I was doing. During the following days both he and Ahmad chaffed me whenever I was silent, saying that I was thinking of the girl at Manwakh, which was frequently true': Wilfred Thesiger, Arabian Sands (London, 1959), pp.189-190. [PG 17/11/2009]