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Type: Conference paper
Title: Does not the glorious East seem to be transported to our shores? Perth’s Golden Mosque (1905)
Author: Bartsch, K.
Scriver, P.
Rashid, M.
Citation: Proceedings of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand: Gold, 2016 / Brennan, A., Goad, P. (ed./s), vol.33, pp.32-42
Publisher: SAHANZ
Publisher Place: Melbourne
Issue Date: 2016
ISBN: 978-0-7340-5265-0
Conference Name: Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ 2016: Gold)) (6 Jul 2016 : Melbourne, Victoria)
Editor: Brennan, A.
Goad, P.
Statement of
Katharine Bartsch, Peter Scriver, Md. Mizanur Rashid
Abstract: In 1893, a special correspondent for The Bendigo Independent mocked the exotic camel trains plying the route from Geraldton to the Coolgardie gold fields: "Does not the glorious East with its mosques and gilt tipped minarets and the abundance of its life, its color [sic] and its motion seem to be transported to our shores."1 The remarks were prompted by a public announcement describing the services of Faiz and Tagh Mahomet which extended to camel sales and hire. While the correspondent derided the unlikely image of a Victorian prospector astride a newly purchased mount, the observations highlight the fortunes of the Mahomet brothers who struck gold in the west. Faiz was a cameleer whose entrepreneurial debut was assisted by a pounds1000 loan from Sir Thomas Elder, a pastoralist and philanthropist who first brought camels and camel handlers to Australia in significant numbers in 1865. Drawing on his personal wealth, Faiz played a key role in the foundation of the Perth mosque begun in 1905 (heritage-listed in 1995).2 Archival documents reveal a galvanising leader who collected funds to build the mosque, in short order, from more than 200 cameleers of diverse South Asian origin scattered throughout the interior; a pan-continental and transcultural enterprise demonstrating the fluidity and plurality of the frontier economy and society at the time. Moreover, analysis of the mosque, from its Timurid origins to the gilt tipped mouldings, connects the mosque to what architectural historian Stephen Dale has described as "the golden age of Perso-Islamic culture."3 While the relationship between Australia's remote mineral deposits and the material wealth of the city is well recognised, the aim of this paper is to appreciate the pioneering efforts of lesser-known entrepreneurs, like the Mahomet brothers, and to understand the significance of the Perth mosque for this far-flung Muslim community whose crucial exploits fuelled Australia's gold fever in the west.
Rights: Copyright of this volume belongs to SAHANZ. Copyright of the content of individual contributions remains the property of the named author or authors.
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