Baron Omar Rolf von Ehrenfels

Omar Rolf Ehrenfels (1901-1980) was an Austrian who converted to Islam and found himself interned with us in the Satara Internment & Parole Center in India.  He was a gifted painter and we were lucky that he wanted to do  these watercolor portraits of my mother and me in 1944.  You can see how his Orientalism and his interest in women and women’s rights translated into how he saw us!   Tom Reiss refers to Omar Rolf in The Orientalist.

ehrenfelsMy Mum and me
Ehrenfels signature: July 12, 1944






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2 Responses to Baron Omar Rolf von Ehrenfels

  1. Dear Hazel (if I may),
    I just discovered these two pictures. Thank you very much for sharing them.
    A historian of religion situated at Erlangen university (Germany), I just finished a book on the Ahmadiyya mission in interwar Europe, which will appear with EJ Brill in Leiden in a couple of months.
    During this research, I met with your father at several injunctions. and I gave him a little portrait in the book.
    Following up on this publication, I plan to do an in-depth study on the effect(-s) which rational, progressive Islam (the kind the Ahmadis from Lahore propagated) had on people’s lives, and describe how they fashioned their personal lives, treated their wives / husbands and educated their children. Omar Ehrenfels will be given a central place.
    May I ask you to support my research if you can? For instance through considering some still open questions (about the internment, about life in India in the post-war period)?
    Any way, I do think it is about time that your Rolf Omar Ehrenfels receives the scholarly interest he deserves and would be very thankful to hearing from you.
    Yours kindly,

    Gerdien Jonker

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