Indiana Jones Wiki
Advertisement

"You're my good friend."
Indiana Jones[src]

Sallah Mohammed Faisel el-Kahir was the "best digger in Egypt" according to Indiana Jones whose friendship with the Egyptian had weathered many decades since they first met as teenagers.

A dedicated family man, Sallah raised nine children with his wife Fayah, and by 1969 had at least two grandchildren. He was a well known figure in his native Cairo, and had numerous connections, such as Imam and the smuggler Simon Katanga, and his network of contacts persisted even after Sallah and his family emigrated to the United States during World War II.

For his new life in America, Sallah exchanged his shovel for a taxi to become a New York City cabbie and was on hand to support Jones when the man was framed for murder in the fallout of Helena Shaw's theft of the Antikythera from Hunter College during the Apollo 11 ticker tape parade.

Biography[]

Early life[]

"You can't really see the pyramids without a guide. And I happen to be the best in the business."
―Sallah introduces himself to Indiana Jones, 1913.[src]

The seventh born of a seventh born[5] in Cairo, Egypt in 1897,[2] Sallah Mohammed Faisel el-Kahir[6] was named after Salah al-Din, and developed an interest in archaeology at an early age.[7] His family had been scavenging Egyptian tombs for generations and claimed to have some Bedouin in him.[5]

Accompanying his father, Sallah assisted American archaeologists on expeditions up the River Nile to perform preliminary excavations and the recording of Ancient Egyptian monuments' locations and hieroglyphics.[7]

YoungIndyYoungSallah

Young Indiana Jones and Sallah in 1913.

When his father died in 1912,[6] Sallah thought the world would had come to an end[5] and became responsible for supporting his mother, four brothers and six sisters. He first met Indiana Jones a year later when he attached himself to Jones as a guide around the Great Pyramids. Together, they became two of the first to step inside the rediscovered tomb of Tutankhamun — almost a decade before its official uncovery at the hands of Howard Carter — and found themselves embroiled in events surrounding the Ring of Osiris and the machinations of Gustav von Trappen.[6]

Digger career[]

The 1920s saw Sallah gaining experience in archaeology while working alongside Dr. George Reisner. He assisted in the excavation of Mycerinus' tomb, and in 1925 was helping Reisner recover and catalog artifacts from the tomb of Hetepheres, which led to a position for the museum in Boulak where he organized expeditions and established a reputation as one of the best diggers in Egypt. It was around then that he married his wife Fayah and began raising nine children, including Jasmine and Moshti.[8][7]

"Sometimes parents must leave their children for a time because of the demands of our stomachs or of our dreams. I have been away from this brood for months at a time, at one dig or another. It doesn't mean I love them any less."
―Sallah[src]

In 1933 Sallah helped Jones find the Tomb of Hermes during his quest for the Philosopher's Stone.[9] In 1934, Sallah's home in Cairo provided a sanctuary for Jones and the Maskelyne family on their way to the Great Sphinx.[5] Also that year, Sallah was hired by someone working for the "Man with the Silver Eye" to locate the Library of Alexandria intact. He acquired a copy of The Riddle of the Sphinx believed to hold a message from Osiris to the Pharaohs regarding a powerful artifact and went missing, prompting Indiana Jones and a member of the Adventure Society to go to Egypt looking for him.[10] In 1935, Sallah acquired the missing piece of a map which led to the Temple of the Forbidden Eye in India. He forwarded it to Jones before he traveled there himself and helped run a tourist operation to fund the excavation of the site.[11]

Fighting Nazis[]

"Give 'em hell, Indiana Jones!"
―Sallah[src]
Sallaaaaahh

Sallah screaming at a statue of Anubis in the Well of Souls.

Later, in 1936, Sallah helped Jones decipher the inscription on the back of Marion Ravenwood's medallion by taking him to an old wise man. They learned that the Nazis were digging in the wrong location for the Ark of the Covenant, so Sallah and Jones infiltrated the Nazi dig and they discovered the real location of the Well of Souls, where the Ark was kept. Although he was reluctant, Sallah joined Jones in the snake-infested tomb, and they found and moved the Ark to the surface.[1]

However, the Nazis discovered the secret dig and captured the Ark and Sallah. They also threw Marion into the tomb with Jones, and sealed it shut.[1]

Note: The following section is cut content.
It contains information cut from the final release of an Indiana Jones medium, or otherwise unpublished. Everything said in this section and not elsewhere did not happen in the "proper" Indiana Jones continuity.

A young soldier was ordered by Colonel Herman Dietrich to execute Sallah, and he was taken to a secluded area, but the soldier was morally incapable of murdering an innocent person just because he was given orders to do so, and let Sallah go.

Cut content information ends here.

Jones and Marion escaped, however, and the archaeologist told Sallah to secure some transportation back to England. He made a deal with the captain of the Bantu Wind, a tramp steamer, for bringing Jones, Marion, and the Ark back to the States. Bidding farewell to his friends at the docks, he received a kiss from Ravenwood, which prompted him to sing A British Tar as he returned home.[1]

Afterwards, Sallah discovered that the stolen Chachapoyan Fertility Idol was up for sale at the shop of antiquity dealer Saad Hassim in Marrakesh, Morocco and sent a telegram to inform Jones.[12] He met with Jones and successfully assisted him in recovering the artifact.[13]

CrusadeSallah

Sallah at the Grail Temple.

In 1938, Sallah failed in rescuing Marcus Brody from the Nazis, who captured him for the map that lead to the Holy Grail. Sallah took Jones and his father, Henry Jones Sr. to the Nazi convoy in his brother-in-law's car. He later tried secure some camels for the trip back home as compensation after the Nazis blew up the car but lost them along the way. After Jones had found the Holy Grail, and used it to save his father's life, Sallah rode away with the others on horseback into the sunset.[4]

After World War II broke out, Sallah was still opposing the Nazis, as Jones was informed by Imam in 1941.[14]

Life in America[]

"Alia, Jabari. This is the great man who brought our family to America during the war."
―Sallah, on Indiana Jones[src]

During the conflict, Jones helped Sallah and his family emigrate to the US where Sallah settled into a job as a New York City cab driver and eventually became a grandparent.[3] By 1957, the archaeologist kept a framed photo of himself and Sallah atop his mantelpiece.[15]

SallahIndyV

Sallah missed his high adventure days with Indiana Jones.

Their friendship was still strong in 1969, when Sallah helped the newly retired Jones evade capture after being framed for murder—fallout from Helena Shaw's theft of a piece of the Antikythera entrusted to Jones—and, nostalgic for their adventure filled lives together, offered to help the archaeologist pursue his wayward godchild. Believing he was simply retrieving the artifact and that the excitement of his younger days was long behind him, Jones refused but used Sallah's Moroccan connections to follow Helena to the Hotel L'Atlantique where events soon spiraled out of control.[3]

Later, Sallah and his grandchildren visited Jones' New York apartment after the archaeologist had returned and recovered after being time displaced with Shaw and her young companion Teddy Kumar in ancient Syracuse. Happy to see his friend alive and well, Sallah gave Indy and Marion space to talk by taking all of the others out to go get ice cream, enthusiastically telling the brood that one can never have too much.[3]

Personality and traits[]

Sallah was a fan of Gilbert and Sullivan, and possessed a strong baritone.[1] He never learned to swim in his youth due to constantly being surrounded by sand and rock.[9]

By 1913, in addition to his Arabic, Sallah was able to speak perfect English — where he could alternate between British and American accents — French, German and Italian.[6]

Behind the scenes[]

Sallah

John Rhys-Davies as Sallah.

Sallah was portrayed by actor John Rhys-Davies in Raiders of the Lost Ark,[1] Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade[4] and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.[3] He also played the role in video and audio footage for Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye[11] and lent his voice to Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure.[16] As himself, Rhys-Davies starred in The Making of Disneyland's Indiana Jones Adventure alongside Karen Allen to promote the ride.[17]

Danny DeVito was director Steven Spielberg's first choice for the role of Sallah in Raiders but he had TV commitments.[18] Kevork Malikyan, who would eventually be cast as Kazim in Last Crusade, had attempted to audition for the Sallah role but he arrived four hours late due a traffic jam.[19] Having seen John Rhys-Davies' performance as Vasco Rodrigues in the miniseries Shōgun, Spielberg adjusted the part for him, suggesting that the character be played as a cross between Rodrigues and Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff.[18]

Sallahphoto

Sallah photo prop.

While Rhys-Davies doesn't appear in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a prop of Sallah and Jones was created for the set of Indiana Jones' house. The photograph can be glimpsed in both scenes where the home appears (chapters 4 and 5 on the DVD), atop the mantelpiece above the fireplace.[20]

Although Davies originally stated that he was not given an opportunity to return for the fourth film, in a 2008 audio interview with TheForce.net, Davies clarified that while he had been offered a small cameo in Crystal Skull, he had declined, feeling that the role was too small and dismissive of the character.[21]

Appearances[]

Non canonical appearances[]

Sources[]

Notes and references[]

Advertisement