Images of Cochin

I decided to put these images on my site after reading the Moor's Last Sigh. I realized that the book was almost intensely visual and it might be interesting to see the locales we read of. Most of these photographs have been scanned from books, wherever possible I've attempted to refer to the original published work and include descriptions of the photographs, most lifted almost directly from the books I used as sources. I have been unable to obtain permission to reproduce these pictures in electronic form, but I do not anticipate any objection to their use here.

Click on the thumbnail to see the larger image.

From: "The Last Jews of Cochin"

Page numbers refer to, The Last Jews of Cochin, Jewish Identity in Hindu India; by Nathan Katz and Ellen S Goldberg; U. of South Carolina Press, 1993, 0872498476

Download Image p. 65, The Cochin Synagogue and clock tower (background) are separated by a stone wall from what was the Maharaja of Cochin''s palace and private Pazhayannur Sri Krishna Temple. Today, the palace is a public museum, and the temple complex (foreground) is open to all Hindus. WHile worshipping in the synagogue, Sarah Cohen said, "We often hear their music and prayers. And they can hear us, too."

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Image p. 67, Jew Town's Synagogue Lane in 1987. The narrow street is a throwback to medieval times with its pastel-colored Dutch colonial homes; jutting above the rooftos at the end of th elane is the clock tower of the Cochin Synagogue.

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Image p. 68, Meir Simon stands before the Holy Ark of the Partur Synagogue, believed to have been constructed in 1164 and rebuilt in 1616.

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Image p. 75, The Cochin Synagogue decorated for Sinchat Torah

Download Image p. 78, Five of the Cochin Synagogue's Sifrei Torah, encased in wood and metal, with 22-carat gold crowns encrusted with emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and other precious and semi-precious stones. One of the crowns was given to the congregation by the Maharaja of Travancore in 1803.

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Image p. 81, The Cochin Synagogue's clock tower has three faces bearing Hebrew, Roman, and Indian numerals. The side shown here, which faces the Synagogue's courtyard, is in Hebrew.

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Image p. 181, The Cochin Synagogue, decorated for Simchat Torah, as seen from the upstairs bimah. Lining the upper walls are parokhets (curtains usually hung before the Holy Ark), made from the women congregant's favourite mundus (sarongs). After a woman dies, her mundu is sewn into a backing and donated to the synagogue do that she will live on in memory.

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Image p. 230, A traditional wedding procession along Synagogue Lane in 1978, with the bride and groom led to the synagogue by drummers, dancers, torch-beares, and salutes, an important expression of the Jews' quasi-noble status in Malabar. Here, Sarah Cohen (right) holds a parasol over bride Glennis Simon Salme, the last Paradesi to wed at the Synagogue.

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Image p. 289, The Cochin Jewish cemetery in Mattancheri suffers from neglect and is now a playground for the neighbourhood children.

From: "A History of the Jews of Cochin"

Page numbers refer to, A History of the Jews of Cochin; J. B. Segal; 1993, Valentine Mitchell & Co. Ltd. London; 0853032521

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Image Frontispiece, Ark, Paradesi Synagogue, Jew Town Cochin

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Image p. 30, Synagogue, Chennamangalam

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Image p. 97, Jew Town Cochin


Salman Rushdie