صور لبعض المدن والآثار المذكورة في كتابي عن الأندلس

بمناسبة مشاركة كتابي “الأندلس: تاريخ الشتات” والصادر عن دار الربيع العربي في معرض القاهرة الدولي للكتاب الذي يبدأ اليوم، يسعدني أن أشارك معكم بعض الصور التي التقطتها في المدن المذكورة في كتابي، بهدف مساعدتكم على تخيل أجواء تلك المدن وتشجيعكم على اقتناء الكتاب. الصور خاضعة لقانون الملكية الفكرية ، وبإمكانكم استخدامها لأغراض غير تجارية شريطة ذكر اسم صاحب حقوق الملكية الفكرية (محمد الرزاز). أرجو أن تنال الصور إعجابكم، مع العلم بأنني سأقوم برفع المزيد من الصور لاحقاً

Egypt’s ‘Stick Game’ UNESCO-listed

This week brought great news regarding Egypt’s rich cultural heritage, namely the inscription of Tahteeb (Stick Game) on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Tahteeb is regarded by the UNESCO as performing art and as a social practice / festive event (two out of the five domains of Intangible Cultural Heritage). Tahteeb, which involves a non-violent stick fight that seems more of a dance, traces its roots to Ancient Egypt. It acquired this ‘festive’ character much later in Upper Egypt, where it remains to be practiced during important social events, usually accompanied by traditional popular music. Local communities take pride in this tradition which showcases not only their skill and swift movement, but also embodies the values of fraternity and respect.

Tahteeb is the second element of Egypt’s Intangible Cultural Heritage to be recognized by the UNESCO (the first was al-Sirah al-Hilaliyyah Epic back in 2008). To my Egyptian mind, I can think of tens of other unique elements of heritage that could easily find their way into the list: khiyamiyya (craft), tanoura (performing art), traditional Muslim and Coptic mouleds (festive events), the Nubian language (oral tradition), to the end of the long list.

During their meeting in Addis Ababa, the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage adopted 15 other new elements from different countries. This includes the Beer Culture in Belgium, the Rumba in Cuba, the Valencia Fallas Festivity in Spain, the çini-making in Turkey, etc. Check it out here.

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وكالة عطية – ملحمة خيري شلبي

أصبحت مفتونا بالأصبحة في فناء الوكالة أتفرج عليها من ضجعتي فوق المصطبة في حجرتي. أصبحت فاتنة، تغير ألوانها في بطء جميل ساحر، من الاردوازي إلى الطباشيري إلى الوردي إلى الذهبي، عابقة بروائح طازجة. وفي مرحلة الاردوازية من هذا الصباح كنت مندمجا في قراءة ديوان بيرم التونسي تستلبني حواريه المصرية العتيقة بناسها ولبطها ووحلها ونسوانها الشبقات السليطات

انتهيت لتوي من قراءة عمل ملحمي مبدع للأديب الراحل خيري شلبي، وهو وكالة عطية، حيث تتحول الوكالة إلى مسرحاً أشبه بصندوق الدنيا، تتشابك فيه الأحداث والشخوص في بناء مرصوص من الحبكات الدرامية التي تنقلنا إلى عالم متكامل من المهمشين والأشقياء، فنغوص في تفاصيل حياتهم واحدا تلو الآخر، نتلصص على مآسيهم ونتعرف على أساليبهم في التحايل على مصاعب الحياة. تتعاقب الفصول وتتسارع، تتكشف جوانب مدهشة من شخصيات أبطال الرواية، فنراهم في أوقات الشدة قد تحولوا إلى نبلاء لا تنقصهم الشهامة ولا يتنكرون للجميل.

يرسم خيري شلبي عالماً من الواقعية السحرية، يختلط فيه النصابون والدجالون بالإخوان المسلمين، وتجار المخدرات بالأفندية، ويبرع في تشريح وتعرية واقع اجتماعي فريد من خلال قصص أبطال الرواية في مدينة دمنهور وما جاورها. تتركنا الرواية بمجموعة ضخمة من المشاهد الصادمة والتي يصعب نسيانها: سيدة من النَور تجبر القرد الذي يصاحبها على اتيانها، رجل يطوي المسافات بالمشيئة، مداح في الموالد يبحث عن حبيبته الضائعة، مشاهد انتهاك البسطاء من قبل الجهاز الأمني في عهد عبد الناصر، وغيرها الكثير. أترككم مع فقرة قصيرة:

إنك تلمح في قاع عينيها البعيد ظلال عهر عريق لعله راجع إلى أمنا حواء حريفة الإغواء. غير أنك لن تستجيب لنداء هذه الظلال على الأقل لأول وهلة. إلا أن الخطر لا بد محدق بك إذا مكثت معها طويلاً وألفتها وألفتك

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Herzegovnia: From Mostar to Blagaj

The Stari Grad (Historic City) of Mostar is relatively small. Seen from a distance; one quickly comes to understand the significance of the city’s most celebrated icon: The Stari Most (Old Bridge) which, at 25 meters high above the River Neretva, seems to defy gravity, but not time.

The impressive hump-backed bridge connecting both sides of the city is actually less than 20 years old. The original 1566 bridge commissioned by the Ottoman Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent at the request of the city’s inhabitants and built by mimar Hayruddin was completely destroyed in the 1993 War and had to be reconstructed from scratch.

An icon of Mostar’s identity in every sense of the word, the bridge’s importance surpasses its architectural style and its functional significance: there is so much intangible heritage attached to the bridge in a way that is always present in popular memory and imagination. For centuries, it had inspired songs, paintings, poems, legends, love stories and even traditional sporting skills like high-diving.

Hanging around the bridge and contemplating the mesmerizing views of the river and the cityscape seems to be the national sport here, but as I gazed at the river banks, I realized the bridge was only one part of the story, or better said, the centerpiece of the greater architectural ensemble that appears on the UNESCO World Heritage List: fortifications and towers on bother sides of the bridge, cobblestone walkways, an Ottoman mosque here, another there; I finally decided to climb the highest minaret that dominated the horizon, and it was worth every step up the stairs!

From the top of the pencil-like Ottoman minaret of the 17th century Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque, the old city unfolded before me like a dream; the hypnotic gift of Herzegovina to the world. Roaming beyond the Od City, one comes face to face with devastated and abandoned buildings; a sad reminder of the war toll in this peaceful part of the world.

It was lunchtime and, fortunately, I decided to head to the nearby village of Blagaj by the crystal clear karstic spring of the River Buna, so clear that you can actually drink its water. The landscape here is one of ravishing beauty: tender cataracts, green hills, and a dramatic rock wall embracing a serene white building hanging on the water. The building is the Ottoman Tekke (Takiyya) of Blagaj, the equivalent of a monastery hosting Muslim mystics and dervishes.

Dating back to the Bektasi Order of the 15th century, it eventually hosted followers of the Qadiri, Refai, Khalwati and Naqshabandi Orders (Tariqahs). The ensemble of the Tekke includes a musafirhane (guest room), abdesthane (washroom), hamam (bathroom), courtyard, kitchen, prayer rooms and turbe (tombs). The interior of the Tekke offers a little oasis over the river for the pilgrims of beauty: windows command soothing views of the river, a stairway takes you all the way down to the cold spring water, and the decoration of the rooms is both pleasant and elegant.

A great lunch of fresh trout by the river then back to Mostar to catch the Old City in a different light, that magical light that makes the city unforgettable forever after.

 

 

 

Howe’s Wind-Powered Sculpture

One of the most captivating elements in the Inauguration Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Rio was the wind-powered kinetic sculpture designed for the Olympic cauldron by the American artist Anthony Howe. It’s a two-ton sculpture designed to symbolize the sun, and it moves swiftly with the wind. Surprisingly, no one in my circle talks about it.

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In his official website, Anthony Howe states that “kinetic sculpture resides at the intersection of artistic inspiration and mechanical complexity. The making of one of my pieces relies on creative expression, metal fabrication, and a slow design process in equal parts. It aims to alter one’s experience of time and space when witnessed. It also needs to weather winds of 90 mph and still move in a one mile per hour breeze and do so for hundreds of years.”

The one thing I like most about this art is that Nature becomes the paintbrush, rather than the subject. At a time when issues like global warming and climate change have become more pressing than ever, Howe’s works come -literally- as a breeze.

For a compilation of Anthony Howe’s works, you can watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4l5rHNSq9s

Variations on a Masterpiece

Those who adore their favorite artists, those culture vultures that would accept nothing less than a recognizable ‘masterpiece’, how do they feel when someone ‘messes around’ with the most iconic masterpieces that they have come to venerate in the name of artistic creativity?

Take the test, contemplate the images that I chose for this post, and decide for yourself.

Venus (after Botticelli) by Xin Yin:

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The Last Supper (after Da Vinci) by José Manuel Ballester:

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The Anatomy Lesson (after Rembrandt) by Derek Gallon:

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Rodin sculpture sets $20 million artist’s record at auction

A Rodin sculpture set a new artist’s auction record at Sotheby’s on Monday when it sold for $20.4 million, but the strong price was likely to provide little reassurance to an art market that many fear is softening after years of spiking prices.

Sotheby’s sale of Impressionist and modern art took in a total of $144.4 million, missing the low pre-sale estimate of about $165 million for 62 lots offered. One-third of the works went unsold.

Despite some high points that drew spirited bidding, the sale was marked by its relatively high unsold rate, and somewhat tepid prices for works that did find buyers.

Rodin’s marble sculpture, “L’Eternal Printemps,” soared far beyond its estimated price of $8 million to $12 million, and broke the Rodin auction record of just under $20 million.

Drawing intense, global competition, Sotheby’s pointed to the work as emblematic of the kind of fresh-to-market, quality works that auction houses must now offer to elicit strong prices and spirited bidding.

Executives employed words such as discerning, measured and selective to characterize both the night’s results and the present market itself.

“It’s emblematic of the marketplace we’re in right now,” said Helena Newman, European chairman of Impressionist and modern art, adding “It’s nuanced market.”

After years of soaring prices, both Sotheby’s and rival Christie’s have assembled markedly smaller spring sales, with no works carrying estimates much beyond $40 million. In recent seasons several works have broken the $100 million mark.

The sale’s expected highlight, Andre Derain’s “Les Voiles rouges” estimated at $15 million to $20 million, failed to sell. Picasso’s “Buste d’homme Laure,” expected to fetch $8 million to $12 million, suffered the same fate.

Among highlights, Maurice de Vlaminck’s “Sous-bois” fetched $16.4 million, in the midst of the estimate range, and Monet’s “Maree basse aux Petites-Dalles” sold for $9.9 million, nearly doubling the high estimate. Three Monets were among the 10 highest-priced lots.

Sotheby’s has suffered a spate of resignations by top-tier executives, many of whom had worked there for decades, as well as the departure of its long-serving CEO.

The auction stood in contrast to Christie’s curated sale on Sunday featuring challenging works by artists typically considered less-than commercial. It took in $78 million, handily beating the pre-sale estimate of about $60 million. But Christie’s curated sale last fall, notably, totaled $495 million.

The auctions continue on Tuesday with Christie’s post-war and contemporary art auction.

(REUTERS)

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