Re: Photo of the Bab

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Posted by Robert Stauffer on September 15, 2000 at 23:07:02:

In Reply to: Photo of the Bab posted by Nima Hazini on September 15, 2000 at 23:01:59:

Having seen the portrait of the Bab on two different occasions in Haifa, I believe that which appears in SBBH Vol I is not the same portrait I recall seeing, though perchance is another's attempt at replicating the Bab's portrait (a copy of which also in the US archives). The pose is indeed very much similar as the general facial expression, however, (and speaking from years of experience as an artist who has carved many human-like face masks) what struck me most about the portrait of the Bab in Haifa was its being done in the old style Persian miniture style which the portrait in SBBH is not. The genuine portrait seemed to me to be just about like any other face of a man in a miniture, and I was somewhat disappointed that it was not very realistic in its execution. The Bab's portrait I saw was also a more youthful man.

Indeed, the SBBH vol 1 portrait is much more realistic, even down to the lines on the hands. Also the genuine portrait I saw in Haifa shows the Bab's knees very clearly, and a rich background, while the one in SBBH does not, though this may be due to it being, actually, a tinctured photo of a painted portrait, leaving out background/foreground features. Indeed, the genuine portrait was said by guides in Haifa to have been done by an artist after the Bab's Martyrdom from memory and in possession of His wife who indicates in documents it was His likeness very much.

But do not depend on my recollection, which may be faulty, ask the BWC Archives. From time to time, we might expect those wishing to make a buck or two or to claim to be in possession of such a relic would produce an artifake, or take an existing portrait of Ali, Sayyid Kazim or the like and claim it is the Bab, even writing in a title He was known by on an incerted piece of paper (as shown in the SBBH Vol portrait).

I've got another letter from an ad hoc committee at the Baha'i World Centre on this topic. While not specific to the photo in SBBH Vol I, here is the quote I have to substantiate the practice by some of selling or otherwise providing forged or ingenuine pictures of the figures of the Faith; See Atrpet Sargis Mubagajian's 1909 book Babizm i Bekhaizm (in Russian) in which he placed pictures of the Figures of the faith which were not wholly genuine. Also, there is another identical photo as that in SBBH Vol I in Babizm i Bekhaizm, p. 15; the book is available from University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, MI) Years ago I wrote to the UHJ questioning the authenticity of the photos in Mubayajian's book, as it also had ones claiming to be that of Baha'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Baha and Tahirih. The quote reads:

To: Universal House of Justice
Date: 20 March 1983

"In an early search for Atrpet Sargis Mubagajian's sources of information for his book "Babizm i Bekhaizm", a report was found among the documents filed by shoghi Effendi indicating that Mubagajian went to Tabriz to investigate the Baha'i Faith. He, unfortunately, met with Jalil Mishkar Khu'i, a Covenant-breaker, and received his information from this man. What Mubagajian was told, particularly about the period after Baha'u'llah, was grossly incorrect. Jalil also sold Mubagajian other pictures and portraits which later appeared in the book. The report further states that the portraists identified as those of Baha'u'llah, the Bab and Tahirih are obviously forged. However, the drawing made of 'Abdul-Baha in his youth bears, of course, a great resemblance to the original picture."

From an ad hoc Committee to answer questions posed by Mr. Robert Stauffer in his letter dated 9 February 1983.

So, we can say without a doubt that the photo labled as being that of Siyyid K. Rashti in SBBH Vol I, is not that of the Bab.

For more information on Jalil, see Taherzadeh, "The Covenant of Baha'u'llah" pp. 158, 166, 215-16.


Robert Stauffer

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