‘Abdu’l-Baha with Flowers

In 1972 I took a close-up Kodachrome photo of a painting of ‘Abdu’l-Baha that hung in the home of Margaret Gallagher, a Baha’i Auxiliary Board Member in Hayward, California. Then I went out to her garden, noticed bright red flowers with sunlight streaming through them and double-exposed them on the same frame. Several years later I made a high-resolution scan from a color negative copy of my original 35mm slide. The original had been irretrievably damaged by a flood.

The original painter’s name was Samimi. Download a document in Adobe PDF format for more information about the painter. The right half of the image consists of the flowers I added when I took the photograph. The photograph was a close-up of the painting. The entire painting shows a 3/4 length view of ‘Abdu’l-Baha.

When I was on pilgrimage in 1974, I brought 200 copies of the photo with me at the request of Hand of the Cause A. Q. Faizi. He gave them away during his many teaching trips around the world. Though he asked me to sign the backs of the photos I preferred to remain anonymous. Among my treasures are some hand-illuminated letters that Mr. Faizi wrote me in the 1970’s including a comment on the image of ‘Abdu’l-Baha with Flowers. You can find the letters online at the Bahai-Library site in an unpublished book of his letters edited by Shirley Macias.

I offer this image to everyone for free with certain conditions. I don’t accept payment for copies for any reason. You may freely distribute it as long as you don’t change it in any way and you attribute the source (www.enochsvision.com, Cary Enoch Reinstein). You may not exploit or sell it for any amount of money or any reason. You may not publish this image on any website or social network without my prior permission in writing. However, please feel free to link to this page.

There is an important reason why I want to protect this image. It’s simply because I’ve seen so many low quality or badly faded copies of the image over the many years that it’s been circulating. I’ve also seen people try to make a profit from poor quality copies. Except for minor printing costs if you don’t print it yourself, you should not have to pay for it. The picture is essentially just a derivative image (and a serendipitous one at that) that became very popular over a long time and acquired some distinctly odd and wildly inaccurate lore along the way. Some of it is pretty amusing. This assures that you’ll get the best quality for personal printing because it’s from the original source. This image, though it will always be free of charge, is not in the public domain. You can read the terms of use in the downloaded files. Do not change or edit the accompanying text documents. If you find an error then please feel free to contact me about it.

There are many quality printing sites where you can make your own prints both online and in retail stores. Download a 10MB Zip file containing three different size copies suitable for printing at high quality on standard  photographic papers. The Zipped collection also has expanded commentary on the image including permitted usage statements as well as guidance on portraits of ‘Abdu’l-Baha from the Baha’i World Center. They explain yet another reason why not to sell or exploit it in any way since real photographs of ‘Abdu’l-Baha are preferable.

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Ministry of Flowers

“‘Abdu’l-Baha’s personal wants were few. He worked late and early. Two simple meals a day sufficed Him. His wardrobe consisted of a very few garments of inexpensive material. He could not bear to live in luxury while others were in want. He had a great love for children, for flowers, and for the beauties of nature. …”
In Galilee, p. 51.

“The ‘ministry of flowers’ was a feature of the life at ‘Akka, of which every pilgrim brought away fragrant memories. Mrs. Lucas writes: — ‘When the Master inhales the odor of flowers, it is wonderful to see him. It seems as though the perfume of the hyacinths were telling him something as he buries his face in the flowers. It is like the effort of the ear to hear a beautiful harmony, a concentrated attention!'”
A Brief Account of My Visit to ‘Akka, pp. 25-26.

“He loved to present beautiful and sweet-smelling flowers to His numerous visitors.”
Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era