Amara West 2015: Stories, memories and archaeology

Originally posted on Amara West project blog:

Tomomi Fushiya, archaeologist

For our excavations and research in Amara West, local community members’ support is essential. While we chat with workers throughout the working day, often share breakfast and commute by boat between the site and Ernetta island where most workmen are from and the mission house is located, we don’t often hear what they think about their work, the site: What stories they have heard about Amara West? Do they come to visit the site apart from their excavation work? What do they know about our work or archaeology? Are archaeological sites considered a part of Nubian heritage – even a pharaonic town, like Amara West?

This season we began interviews with our workmen, and other local community members in Ernetta island and Abri, to listen to and record their stories, memories and views on the history, archaeology and heritage of Nubia. Here, I would like to share…

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Au village : pourquoi les femmes ne dépassent jamais les hommes sans leur présenter cet objet quand elles veulent l’utiliser ?

Originally posted on QUAND LE VILLAGE SE REVEILLE:

DSC_0887Fabriqué par les potières à partir de l’argile pétri et brûlé, cet ancien ustensile de cuisine est utilisé dans la préparation de certains repas avec du riz, du fonio, du haricot, du mil comme par exemple pour faire le couscous. On le trouve encore dans les localités rurales, mais il est remplacé en ville par un autre fabriqué par les artisans avec du fer avec une forme beaucoup plus aplatie.

Ces repas cités, dans leur préparation ont besoin de la vapeur d’eau. Pour cela, on met du riz, du fonio, du haricot ou de la poudre de mil dans cet objet.  On le place sur un canari (mais aujourd’hui, une marmite) placé sur le feu et contenant de l’eau bouillante produisant de la vapeur. Avec un tissu fin bien propre et mouillé, on remplit le joint entre la marmite et cet objet pour empêcher la vapeur de s’échapper. Ainsi, la…

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Whispering Reeds in Woven Gardens

Protective cloth with inscribed reeds

“Whispering Reeds in Woven Gardens” is an exhibition of the visual artist Irini Gonou composed of seven in situ ritual installations integrating the restorative elements of the Islamic garden with the protective power of the written word in Arabic script.

“As a jannah or a bustan the Islamic garden and its archetype of paradise is nature in its tamed state and the serenity and harmony this provides. The arrangement and structure of my woven gardens – with articulated fields of plant-imbued fabrics irrigated with water-like indigo blue areas – are a reference to the Islamic garden paradigm. In the sequel, cotton, linen or silk cloths are dyed naturally with roots, barks, leaves or flowers and filled with their protective qualities. I explore the concept that in many traditional societies and cultures cloth is believed to be a living thing, it records life.  And, as a storyteller narrates, filled with signs and permeated with plants, it can be a messenger emitting healing and protective essences.  

 In Islamic culture script is considered to have magical force and the written word provides supernatural protection.

 My whispering reeds – which are both ornamental amulets and writing implements – are inscribed in Arabic with the verses of the Syrian poet Adonis, offering in this way their protection through art”.

The exhibition will take place on October 2014 at the Imaret and at the Mohammed Ali Museum in Kavala, Greece

1st International Conference

Aspects of Islamic gardens: Multi-meanings of paradise”

Organized by I.M.A.R.E.T. (Institute Mohamed Ali for the Research of the Eastern Tradition) and EMATTECH (Eastern Macedonia & Thrace Institute of Technology).

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Death, the great equaliser: Christianity on the Middle Nile

Originally posted on British Museum blog:

Julie Anderson, Assistant Keeper (curator), British Museum

A herd of Sudanese camels (photograph A herd of Sudanese camels (photograph J. Anderson)

People are often surprised to discover that two of the largest Christian kingdoms in the medieval world were in Sudan in northeast Africa. Ibn Selim Al-Aswani, an Arab traveller, visited Sudan in the 10th century AD and described the region north of Old Dongola, capital of the medieval kingdom of Makuria, situated roughly 750 kilometres upstream of Aswan Egypt, as an area of ‘about thirty villages, with beautiful buildings, churches and monasteries, many palm-trees, vines, gardens, cultivated fields and broad pastures on which one can see camels’.

Further to the south, Soba East, capital of the medieval kingdom of Alwa, located near modern-day Khartoum, was said to have ‘fine buildings and large monasteries, churches rich with gold and gardens’. This conjures up quite a romantic picture of medieval Sudan and provides us with an insight…

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Irini Gonou and magical writing.

Originally posted on art for housewives :

It’s been awhile since I’ve blog due to my daughter’s knee injury and the breakdown of my modem.  Hopefully, my blog will pick up some animation now!

 Last year I had been presented the possibility of teaching a workshop in Senegal (which, unfortunately, I later had to refuse) and that led me to researching gris-gris, amulets worn for protection from evil.  Often the gris-gris is a small cloth or leather pouch containing small objects or written verses.  The idea of wearing writing for magical purposes fascinates me as my Muy Marcottage huipiles and dresses all have words or phrases stitched onto them.

gris gris


gris girs

magical writing 

One link leads to another and that’s how I discovered the work of Irini Gonou. Irini’s work is very poetic and deals a lot with magic scripts and apotropaic texts.  She has a series of work entitled The Sheltering Word representing her exploration…

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Introducing Gonou’s Magic Scripts and Apotropaic Texts to Bergen

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Aurora’s Magic in Arabic Script

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