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Read, Watch and Listen

The Musicians’ Journal, No. 30 (October 1928)

In cinemas, the Panatrope was a two-turntable gramophone with amplified output which allowed operators to play a pre-recorded soundtrack for silent films. Like the more satisfactory systems that reproduced sound recorded on film (represented here by the American salesman, frame right), it threatened the livelihoods of musicians who accompanied films in cinemas. A related article attacked the technology being introduced in Britain and claimed that "the public cannot live on 'canned' music all the time any more than on canned pork."

Making Preparations

In an online survey of nearly 200 British-Muslims conducted 2011-12, Islamic books were rated as the most important source of information about Hajj. This guide to performing the pilgrimage is especially novel and has proven to be a bestseller. Published in Birmingham by Al-Hidayaah (‘guidance’), an Islamic business which combines a bookstore with a travel agency, Hajj & Umrah made easy can conveniently be worn around the neck. A copy is photographed here at the Salafi Bookstore in Bradford.

© Seán McLoughlin, 2015. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

Silver drachm of Phraates IV (c. 37-2 BC).

Parthian kings placed greater emphasis on displaying their God-given splendour (Old Persian, khvarnah) rather than circulating propaganda against their enemies. The khvarnah was an important aspect of the Iranian Zoroastrian religion in ancient times, illuminating the king in celestial splendour and granting him invulnerability in battle. In the Zoroastrian hymns, the Veragna bird delivers the khvarnah and this idea can be seen on Phraates IV’s coinage. A star and crescent moon illuminate him as the holder of this divine splendour.

© Trustees of the British Museum

The Musicians Journal, New Series 1 (April 1929)

This front-cover image entitled, “The Key To The Situation” directed musicians to an article advising them to join the Musical Performers Protection Association. However, the company was to fail in its objectives of collecting fees from recorded music. Nor did it reverse the takeover by sound films. Although too few talkies were produced in 1929-30 to fill cinemas’ programmes completely, the studios persuaded owners to meet the cost of conversion by focusing on the prospect of increased takings and cutting out musicians’ wages.

Welfare, Training and Governance

Following a 1997 tent fire in Saudi Arabia which killed over 300 Hajjis, the UK's first pilgrim welfare organisation was founded in Birmingham. The Association of British Hujjaj (ABH) lobbies government to support UK citizens visiting Makkah. It also educates intending pilgrims about health and safety. At a 2014 event in Birmingham, speeches were delivered in English and Urdu by medics, Islamic scholars and civic dignitaries. Trading Standards in the city has been especially proactive in tackling ‘Hajj fraud’.

© Seán McLoughlin, 2014. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

Golden necklace, said to be discovered at Deylaman in north-west Iran.

This necklace brings to life the magnificent jewellery depicted on Parthian coinage. Made of gold and inlaid with gems, it shows two birds clasping kingship rings in their beaks. They evoke the idea of the Zoroastrian Veragna bird, showing that the khvarnah is firmly held by the wearer. Compared to more austere Roman coin portraits, Parthian kings were depicted with lavish earrings, torques, and richly beaded headdresses. These items also symbolise the exotic wealth held within the King’s vast Empire. 

© Trustees of the British Museum

The Musicians’ Journal, New Series 2 (July 1929)

“Keep Blowing Boys.” This cover image introduced an article designed to raise players’ morale. The piece argued that the failings of talkies were so obtrusive that the fad could not last. For example, it alleged, someone other than the actor has to do the talking. For that reason the actor works with his or her back to camera to conceal the fact that the voice and the movement of the performer’s lips do not synchronise.

The British Hajj Delegation

Under New Labour a British Hajj Delegation was established in 2000. Unique among Western nations, it made Foreign and Commonwealth Office support available on the ground in Makkah. However, in 2010, funding for volunteer medics ceased. This photograph shows the now privately-funded British-Muslim doctors in 2012. With government stressing the need for self-help in the Hajj travel sector, it also highlights the key contribution since the mid-2000s of a ‘second generation’ welfare organisation, the Bolton-based, Council of British Hajjis.

© Rashid Mogradia, 2012. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”