Another Storytelling Walk in Historic Cairo.
Recycling in Medieval Cairo, the soundscape of the Islamic Medina, the art scene in El-Khoronfosh, these are some of the themes we talked about as we walked around el-Bab el-Akhdar, Khan Jaafar, Bayt al-Qadi, Darb Qirmiz, el-Khoronfosh, Khan Abu Taqiyya, al-Maqasis, Haret Wikalet Abu Zeid, el-Hamzawy and Zuqaq al-Midaq, among other places.
From the austerity of al-Sustari to the encyclopedic mind of Ibn Maymoun (Maimonides), and from the dedication of Ibn al-Baitar to the bravery of al-Tutrusi and all the way through the magnificence of Ibn Arabi and the piety of Abu l-Abbas al-Mursi, we set on a journey of passion, tracing the footsteps of these great figures that left al-Andalus and settled in Egypt and Syria.
You can read or download the entire presentation (pdf) in Arabic at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Pen_Temple_Pilots/message/23621
Today I conducted a Storytelling Walk for Pen Temple Pilots and Discover the Moment communities, a cause-related walk that yielded 3,850 pounds in donations for the National Cancer Institute. Many thanks to all 70+ attendees.
From Bab Zuweila in the south to Bab al Fotouh and Bab al Nasr in the north (all from the XI century), it was a beautiful night in which we covered Historic Cairo from Gate to Gate. Bab Zuweila carries the name of a berber tribe that lived by the gate in Fatimid times, while Bab al Fotouh was the gate through which the army left for any battle. The army, upon returning victorious, would enter by Bab al Nasr. These gates were all built in the X century, but were reinforced and remodeled under Badr al-Din al-Gamali who came from Syria to help the Fatimid Caliph al-Mustansir squash the army’s rebellion. His arrival marker the beginning of a period marker by the power of the viziers.
Today I organized a tertulia session for my colleagues at Café de l’Opera, just across the street from El Liceu. The café, founded in 1876, has a belle-époque interior that inspires a fin-de-siècle ambiance; appreciated only by those who yearn for elegance.
Opera-goers used to hang around this place for a pre-performance aperitif or a post-performance drink & discussion about the performance.
Our event saw eleven people sharing a variety of creative artworks: dance videos, prose, traditional poetry, performance poetry and a little workshop on Japanese Origami.
Today I gave a lecture at the University of Granada (Faculty of Translation) on the historical and cultural relationships between Cairo and Granada, two cities that –at first glance- would seem like worlds apart. Historically however, they were founded only 44 years apart by the Fatimids (Cairo, 969 AD) and their agents in Ifriqiyya, the Zirids (Granada, 1031 AD).
An offshoot of the Zirid rulers in central Maghreb crossed to al-Andalus to take part in the Umayyad civil war that resulted in the disintegration of the Umayyad Caliphate around 1030 AD. During the civil war, several taifa kingdoms started to appear, including the Zirids (Banu Ziri) who founded Granada in 1013 on the ruins of an ancient Roman city.
Their rule (1013-1090) corresponds to part of the Fatimid rule in Egypt, and their art is influenced by the Fatimid style that they once marveled at in Mahdiya and other Fatimid cities in present-day Tunisia. Upon visiting the Archaeological Museum of Granada, the Museum of al-Monastir, the Bardo Musuem and the Raqqada Museum of Islamic Art, one can easily establish the cultural and artistic links.
Today I gave the first of two lectures about Islamic Cairo at one of the halls of the Abrantes Palace of Granada, a beautiful 16th century palace restored and managed by Nueva Acropolis Cultural Association.
Islamic Cairo is like an open book, the pages of which are carved in the memory of stone in hundreds of monuments and in the features of one generation after another over more than ten centuries of evolution. The conference introduced several ‘chapters’ of this legacy.
Many thanks to Antonio and Rita from Nueva Acrópolis for their hospitality.