Karimeh Abbud

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Karimeh Abbud
Karimeh Abbud.jpg
Born 18th November 1893
Shefa-'Amr, Palestine
Died 1955
Nazareth, Palestine
Nationality Palestinian
Education American University of Beirut, Lebanon
Occupation Photographer

Karimeh Abbud (1893-1955; Arabic: كريمة عبّود‎‎), also known as the "Lady Photographer", was a Palestinian professional photographer and artist who lived and worked in Lebanon and Palestine in the first half of the twentieth century.[1]

Early life[edit]

In 1896, the year she was born, her father As'ad Abbud, was serving as a lay pastor in Shefa-'Amr. Shortly thereafter, he joined the Lutheran church, and the family moved with him as he took up a new post as a pastor in Beit Jala (1899-1905) and then Bethlehem, where he was later appointed the parish priest. Karimeh grew up spending time in all of these towns, while also attending the Schmidt Girls School in Jerusalem.

Beginnings in photography[edit]

Postcard of Mary's Well, by Karimeh Abbud

It was in Bethlehem, Palestine, in 1913 that she first began to take an interest in photography, after receiving a camera from her father as a gift for her 17th birthday. Her first photos are of family, friends and the landscape in Bethlehem and her first signed picture is dated October 1919.[1]

Karimeh studied Arabic literature at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. During this time, she took a trip to Baalbek to photograph archaeological sites there. She set up a home studio, earning money by taking photos of women and children, weddings and other ceremonies. She also took numerous photos of public spaces in Haifa, Nazareth, Bethlehem and Tiberias.[1]

Professional studio work[edit]

Colored postcard of the River Jordan, by Karimeh Abbud
Back of two postcards with "Editeur (Miss Karimeh Abbud, Photographer Nazareth" notice, and "Miss Karimeh Abbud, Photographer Nazareth" copyright notice

By the 1930s she was a professional photographer, rising to prominence in Nazareth, where the Abbud family was well known as her grandfather had served as the senior pharmacist at the Nazareth English Hospital and her father had also served as a pastor there. When local Nazareth photographer Fadil Saba moved to Haifa, Karimeh's studio work was in high demand for weddings and portraits in particular. The work she produced in this period was stamped in Arabic and English with the words: "Karimeh Abbud - Lady Photographer - كريمة عبود: مصورة شمس". In the mid-1930s, she began offering hand-painted copies of studio photographs.[1]


Postcard of Cana in Galilee, by Karimeh Abbud

Karimeh's mother died in 1940 prompting her to leave Nazareth, first for Jerusalem and then Bethlehem. In a 1941 letter to her cousins, she expresses her desire to prepare a publicly printed album for her photographic work and to move back to Nazareth. In the events leading up to and after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war little is known of where she lived or what she experienced. It is known that her father died in June 1949 in his father's hometown of Khiam in southern Lebanon. It is also known that Karimeh ultimately returned to Nazareth, where she died in 1955 and where copies of her work were first collected.[1]


Original copies of her extensive portfolio have been collected together by Ahmed Mrowat, Director of the Nazareth Archives Project. In 2006, Boki Boazz, an Israeli antiquities collector, discovered over 400 original prints of Abbud's in a home in the Qatamon quarter of Jerusalem that had been abandoned by its owners fleeing the Israeli occupation in 1948. Mrowat has expanded his collection by purchasing the photos from Boazz, many of which are signed by the artist.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Ahmed Mrowat (Summer 2007). "Karimeh Abbud: Early Woman Photographer (1896-1955)". Jerusalem Quarterly. Institute of Jerusalem Studies. Issue 31: 72–78. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-09. 

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