This drove me up the wall trying to figure it out, but loading jpg's or tiff's into a Cairo surface with Python really isn't all that hard.
The trick is to load it into a gtk.gdk.pixbuf first. here's an example:
pixbuf = gtk.gdk.pixbuf_new_from_file(filename) x = pixbuf.get_width() y = pixbuf.get_height() ''' create a new cairo surface to place the image on ''' surface = cairo.ImageSurface(0,x,y) ''' create a context to the new surface ''' ct = cairo.Context(surface) ''' create a GDK formatted Cairo context to the new Cairo native context ''' ct2 = gtk.gdk.CairoContext(ct) ''' draw from the pixbuf to the new surface ''' ct2.set_source_pixbuf(pixbuf,0,0) ct2.paint() ''' surface now contains the image in a Cairo surface '''
Of course you could bypass stamping it onto a Cairo surface entirely and just use the original pixmap for most things, but for doing affine translations I needed an actual surface and not a context to one. Otherwise you have to remember what is accessible through gdk and what is a native Cairo surface.
With a little bit of pipe magic, you can even do image manipulation externally before loading it, and never have to create a temp file: