Three Photo´s of Sultan of Zanzibar Barghash bin Said, a full brother of princess Emily Ruete

Sultan of Zanzibar Barghash bin Said

Three 1870´s Photo´s  of Sultan of Zanzibar Barghash bin Said:   

1) Maull & Co Picadilly London taken in 1875 11 by 16,5 cm

2) Maull & Co Picadilly London taken in 1875 (same but smaller) 6,5 by 10,5 cm

3) Unknown, Zanzibar,taken in 1875 (sold by Coutinho Brothers Zanzibar, stamp on back of photo) 13,4 by 8,6 cm


Antique Photo Zanzibar: Sultan Barghash of Zanzibar  Sultan Barghash of Zanzibar

Carte de Visite of Sultan Bargash by Maull & Co Picadilly London  (see ref 2 for background)

Background to the life of Sultan Barghash:

Barghash bin Said was the third Sultan of Zanzibar, he ruled from 1870 until 1888 and the brother of Emily Ruete.  The photo by Maull & Co was taken during his visit to London. The third photo was taken in 1875 (see the photo slide-show) the stamp on the back tells us that it was sold at a later stage by the Coutinho Brothers in Zanzibar. The Sultan´s mother was a slave who was freed upon his birth; several Zanzibar Sultans were sons of slave women. His father Seyyid Said (Said bin Sultan) was Sultan / Imaum of Oman and Zanzibar. Said bin Sultan was the first Omani Sultan to put up residence in Zanzibar.Said bin Sultan arranged for the large scale planting of  Clove trees on the island, that resulted in a period of wealth for the island. Barghash is credited with building much of the infrastructure of Zanzibar Stone Town, including piped water, public baths, a police force, roads, parks, hospitals and large administrative buildings such as the House of Wonders. He was perhaps the last Sultan to maintain some measure of true independence from European control during the early part of his reign. He did consult with European "advisors" who had immense influence but he was still the central figure they wrestled to control. He crossed wits with diplomats from Britain, America, Germany, France and Portugal and was often able to play one country off another in an endgame of pre-colonial chess. It was his son, Khaled, who while vying for the succession, was the looser in the Shortest War ever against the British in 1896.

Maul & Co were photographers to the royal family. 187 Piccadilly London. Henry Maull (1829 – 1914) was a British photographer who specialised in portraits of noted individuals. He became a member of the Royal Photographic Society in 1870.


  1. Abyssinia to zanzibar 1850S -1950S Catalogue of the photographic archive of the Winterton Africanan Collection published by Allsworth rare books London page 134 item 67 2 cartes-de-visite 1870s
  2. 2015 The Sultan's Spymaster Peera Dewjee of Zanzibar by Judy Aldrick published by Old Afrika books Kenya. page 132 "The Sultan had his photograph taken by Maull & Co of Picadilly for a carte de visite. pestered by several photographers who wanted to take his photograph, the Sultan exclaimed to Badger  his interpreter - For the sake of Allah do conduct me somewhere to have my face taken, in order that I may br able to show a copy of it to the numerous face-takers who apply to me for it. Visiting cards with photographs were the fashion and everyone of consequence had one and the Sultan had his own made and then handed them out to the officials he met, in the same way that business cards are used today
  3. A diplomatist in the East, London Jonathan Cape 1928 p 85-86