Jewish Necropolis - The kippaw
descriptions that accompany the photographs I have opened each with the
identifications that are found written either in pencil or ink, above
and below the photographs. According to the inscription on the cover of
the album the original series of 12 photographs was taken and subsequently
assembled in order to record an event, viz., the kippaw.
Each leaf of the album was numbered in pencil. One of the leaves of the
album is missing so we do not have photographs 11 and 12 in the original.
It is most likely that a considerable period of time elapsed between taking
the photographs and then providing them with captions. The absence of
two photographs means that those that remain are not in sequence. If there
is any thread of unity it is provided by the cemetery itself and an apparent
wish to record an event or series of events that had the character of
a ritual. The photographer was certainly not Jewish, and he appears to
have interpreted what he saw and recorded it at some later time. Thus
it is not surprising that his understanding of what he called the kippaw
is slightly at variance with what we know of Jewish custom in Salonika.
The word kippaw is neither Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) nor is it Turkish or
Greek. Probably what the photographer recorded was one of the periodic
visitations to the cemetery known as a ziyara. At the beginning of the
new month, and the Jewish New Year, this visitation was known simply as
the kapo meaning beginning. Kippaw very likely
is a corruption of Kapo.
The word ziyara is an Arabic - Ottoman loan word meaning pilgrimage
and at times was used in association with a Persian loan word, zar meaning
bitter weeping and lamentation. In ladino the
word ziyara was especially used to characterize general visits to the
cemetery, which understandably were often accompanied with weeping and
lamentation. Visits on the eves of the High Holidays of Rosh Ha-Shanna,
Yom Kippur and the great Pilgrim Holidays of Pessah, Shavuoth and Sukkoth,
were known as Ziyara Grande and were in fact public pilgrimages in which
almost entire congregations would participate. All of the photographs
in this album are of individuals or couples and it may well be that the
pictures were not even taken on the same day. Most appear to show a simple
ziyara, though the use of the word kippaw may indicate that the photographer
took some of these pictures during a proper kapo that marked the beginning
of a new month.