Re: Photo of the Bab

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Posted by Bill Collins on September 21, 2000 at 15:20:28:

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

The fact that there is hand-writing on a picture is not a guarantee of any kind that it is a correct identification. Any well-trained archivist will tell you this. As Robert Stauffer has pointed out, the researchers at the Baha'i World Centre have been very forthcoming about a number of photographs of Baha'u'llah. What they will not do, however, is confirm a picture's identity simply on the basis that there is a wide claim that the picture is of a certain individual. I served at the Baha'i World Centre Library for 13 years, and on a number of occasions, I was presented with seriously difficult problems of identification. One of these problems had to do with a supposed sketch of the Bab's body that appeared in a Russian article. We could find no historical evidence that this sketch was anything other than the author's imagination. Yet there were people who criticized the finding that this was almost certainly not drawn at the time the Bab's body was thrown by His enemies beside the moat in Tabriz. There was a book published in the Russian Empire in late 19th early 20th cnentury that purported to have photographs of Tahirih, Zaynab and others. They were rather oddly dressed in armor and looked almost like valkyries. But the book identified these photographs as authentic. Research determined that they were staged by the author using Russian models and had nothing to do with the people whose photographs they claimed to be.

I am constantly amazed at the nefarious constructions that some outside observers seem bent on applying to very wise and simple decisions made at the World Centre. It is even more amazing that frequently, these bizarre charges come from Baha'is. I would be very loath to identify this particular picture as the Bab without some very hard evidence, which we do have in the case of the painting displayed in the Archives in Haifa.

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