In 1909 the millionaire French banker and philanthropist Albert Kahn embarked on an ambitious project to create a color photographic record of, and for, the peoples of the world.
As an idealist and an internationalist, Kahn believed that he could use the new Autochrome process, the world’s first user-friendly, true-colour photographic system, to promote cross-cultural peace and understanding.
Until recently, Kahn’s huge collection of 72,000 Autochromes remained relatively unheard of. Now, a century after he launched his project, this book and the BBC TV series it accompanies are bringing these dazzling pictures to a mass audience for the first time and putting color into what we tend to think of as an entirely monochrome age.
Kahn sent photographers to more than 50 countries(including Macedonia), often at crucial junctures in their history, when age-old cultures were on the brink of being changed forever by war and the march of twentieth-century globalization. They documented in true color the collapse of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, the last traditional Celtic villages in Ireland, and the soldiers of the First World War.
In Macedonia were sent the photographers August León and Jean Brin, in 1912-1913 during the Balkan Wars.
The photos in this article are excerpt from the publication: Macedonia in 1913 –
Autochromes from the collection of the Museum Albert Khan / Organizers:
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Macedonia, Museum of the City of Skopje, Museum Albert Khan, French Cultural Center from Skopje, Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and National Museum Ohrid, Institute for Protection of Monuments of Culture. Museum and Gallery Bitola, French Alliance from Bitola
The main entrance of Kursumli-an (leaded khan), one of Skopje’s many caravanserais, built around the middle of the 16th century by Mula Musledin Hodja, son of Abdul Gani. Before the Second World War (in 1925) it was transformed into a lapidary section of the Archaeological Museum, a function it still retains today. On both sides of the entrance there are rows of shops with characteristic wooden shutters for the shops of the former Skopje shopping district.
Perspective on an alley of the old shopping district. In the background, the mosque of Mustafa Pasha (15th century), photographed on the southeast side. In the foreground, an open type shoemaker shop. Instead of walls, the shop has shutters that are closed and opened as needed. The alley is paved with stones, with a gutter in the middle.
Middle-class houses and an alley of the former Skopje shopping district. The houses have wooden grilles on the windows, which is a characteristic of Turkish houses. They are built in uncooked brick.
In the background, we see the mosque of Sultan Murad (still called Hunkar), preserved until today. The Sultan Murad Mosque was built in 1436 by Murad II, the father of Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror, and is the work of Master Hussein of the city of Debar.
It was rebuilt several times, at the time of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, that of Sultan Ahmed III, etc. The last reconstruction took place in 1912, with the financial support of the Sultan.
It was built in the style of Bursa (Bush) but since then has undergone innumerable changes. On the north-west side, there is a four-column porch, whose aesthetically decorated capitals are linked by arches. The base of the building is square.
On this site, we find nowadays individual houses of the residential part of the district of Bit-bazaar.
Perspective on an alley on the left of the entrance of Kursumli-an, with a hammam now in ruins. The alley is paved with stones. The shops are leaned against the walls of the hammam. They are built in raw bricks. The photograph shows the shops of a tinsmith and a tailer. In the background, we can see the south-east side of Hammam Gurciler.
The Hammam Gurciler (also known as Sengul) was built in the second half of the 15th century and formed an ensemble with the Kursumli-an (on its south-west side) and the Kazandjiler Mosque. It was Musledin Hodja who had it built. It served as a hammam until the great fire of 1689. It was known as kuri-hammam (dry bath). The 1963 earthquake destroyed it completely. The hammam is characteristic of Islamic buildings. Its cupola is covered with tiles. Today, this space is part of the courtyard of the Macedonian Museum.