Settler Colonialism Uncovered

Une Fantasia: Algérie

Dublin Core

Title

Une Fantasia: Algérie

Subject

Algerian Fantasia

Description

In North Africa, a fantasia is an exhibition of horsemanship and martial spirit that looks, at first glance, like a synchronized race across a stretch of desert accompanied by shouts and loud cries and concludes with coordinated rifle fire that, if perfectly executed, sounds like one single shot. Previously used militarily, by the nineteenth century, they were primarily organized to celebrate festivals.

Nineteenth-century French Orientalist painter, Eugène Fromentin described a fantasia he witnessed as part of a festival celebration:

“The first group was magnificent; twelve to fifteen riders burst forth in a line. These were the elite, both men and horses. The mounts were in parade harness; the men in holiday gear, meaning combat attire: voluminous pantaloons, haik twisted around as a scarf, wide belts fitted with cartridges and fastened very high across sleeveless, vividly colored vests. Having taken off together, they reached the destination in a solid line … boots meeting, stirrup against stirrup, high in the saddle, arms outstretched, reins to the wind, letting out yells, and making broad gestures. … All the rifles were waving above our heads just ten feet away from us in a way that can’t be described; one second later each man was motionless, taking aim before us. The sun sparkled on the arms, the baldrics of the swords, the gold jewelry; and we saw in rapid flashes cloth, embroidered saddles, stirrups and bridles decorated with gold glitter. They passed by like lightning in a general discharging of all rifles; we were covered with powder and enveloped in white smoke. The women applauded. A second platoon followed right behind so that the smoke of the firing of these rifles blended with the first.”

(Eugène Fromentin, Between Sea and Sahara: An Orientalist Adventure, translated from the French books, Une été dans la Sahara (1857) and Une année dans le Sahel (1859) by Sarah Anderson [London: I. B. Tauris, 2004], 177-178.)

Creator

Eugène Fromentin

Source

James Thompson and Barbara Wright, Eugène Fromentin (Paris: ACR Édition Internationale, 1987), 245.

Publisher

Wikimedia Commons

Date

1869

Contributor

Ashley Sanders

Rights

Public Domain.

Format

JPEG. 1192 x 873 pixels. 266 KB

Language

French

Type

Painting

Identifier

Fantasia

Coverage

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Oil on canvas

Physical Dimensions

103.5cm x 143.5cm

Files

Citation

Eugène Fromentin, “Une Fantasia: Algérie,” Settler Colonialism Uncovered, accessed September 26, 2017, http://settlercolonialism.matrix.msu.edu/items/show/14.