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  1. 1. WATANI English Section 27 February 2000 Translator: Samia / Copy editor: Caryll/Jenny Word Count: 558 A base for a museum Dr Gawdat Gabra That Germany should house two centres for Coptic heritage is a tribute to the dedication of the Coptic community in Germany and the pride it takes in its Coptic roots. Compared with Coptic communities in the United States, Canada, Australia, or even in some European countries, including the United Kingdom, the Copts in Germany are a small community. Nonetheless, they have managed to establish two important centres for Coptic heritage outside Egypt. The first is the Monastery of the Holy Virgin and St Mauritius in Höxter, consecrated a few years ago by Pope Shenouda III. It was handed over to Bishop Dimian in 1994 as a desolate monastery, abandoned 200 years earlier by its Catholic monks. When it became the property of the Coptic Church in Germany, Bishop Dimian made a remarkable effort to save the beautiful 13th century building. He brought in Egyptians skilled in monasterial restoration, mainly from Anba Bishoy’s Monastery in Wadi Natrun, who performed the extremely delicate restoration work with meticulous care, preserving the original style. +Tourist site+ The monastery is now an attractive tourist site. Visitors come to admire the Gothic architecture, the Coptic icons, and the huge iron gates with their Coptic cross motifs, wrought so skilfully by Egyptian blacksmiths. It is gratifying that the Organisation for the Preservation of Heritage in Germany nominated this monastery for the International Restoration Award at the Hanover Expo 2000. +Army base+ The Coptic Museum is the other centre for Coptic heritage in Germany. It stands at the entrance of a former army base in Kassel in Nordrhein- Westfalen, one of the most beautiful spots in Germany, where valleys, 1
  2. 2. woods, and hills intermingle. The site was once a camp for Allied troops stationed in Germany following World War II. When these forces withdrew from Germany in the early 1990s, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, the Coptic Church purchased the large base and its 33 buildings. The Church converted the area into a Coptic Cultural Centre within a Coptic Village. In stark contrast to the former military site, it now radiates peace and harmony. +Common problem+ The nascent museum now houses a small collection of Coptic art, donated by Germans from their private collections, but it faces the problem common to many new museums: the exhibits are too few to fill the premises. Such museum collections usually grow through donations from the private collections of art lovers, through grants, or through permanent or temporary loans of works of art, where collections are exhibited during the owner’s lifetime. I thus invite all expatriate Egyptians to support this museum by donating cash or art. The museum badly needs items such as Coptic textiles, pottery, incense burners, crosses, manuscripts or hand-written pages from old volumes, tombstones and stone friezes or cornices, in order to attract lovers of Coptic heritage and civilisation. +German catalogue+ The local authorities in Höxter have already secured the funds required for Coptology Professor Dr Lucia Langener to catalogue the present museum collection in German. This German catalogue will be translated into English and French, and the author will contribute the Arabic translation. By enriching this Coptic Museum with more works of art, and by supporting it in order to showcase the collection in the best way possible, we are performing a service to the magnificent heritage of Egypt in general and Coptic Egypt in particular. Hence the importance of supporting Bishop Dimian who, in his sincere and dedicated efforts, and through his experience, awareness, and fluency in German, was able to recruit German support for this remarkable project. 2
  3. 3. WATANI English Section 22 April 2001 Writers: Donia and Marina / copy editor: Samia/Jenny Word count: 1158 Daughter of the sun Donia Wagdy Marina Ihab Interest in safeguarding and immortalising the precious heritage and legacy of ancient civilisations, even those which have not as yet divulged all their secrets, is escalating. The museum of Nubian antiquities set up two years ago in Aswan lies symbolically on the banks of the River Nile as it winds its course through rocks and waterfalls. The museum displays the successive civilisations which Nubia has witnessed over time, starting with the prehistoric and Pharaonic ages and going on through the Coptic and Islamic eras until modern times. It highlights UNESCO’s efforts to rescue the Nubian monuments, and also delves into Nubian customs and traditions. The museum is divided into halls, each showcasing the most important aspects of each epoch. The first hall represents the prehistoric era. The first fanciful attempts to engrave scenes of the surrounding environment on rocks proved man’s early mastery of three-dimensional art. Elephants and giraffes, human figures and natural scenery are all depicted. The tableaux are unprecedented as far as drawing and free formation on rocks are realised, and posses a unique aesthetic dimension. +Ancient burials+ Also on display is a human skeleton and depictions of Nubian burial rituals which date back to the beginning of dynastic age. The Pharaonic era is shown in another hall, affirming that Nubia was once the apple of the Egyptian Pharaoh's eye. Its importance sprang from being southern Egypt’s portal to African trade relations. In the hall one can see the first registered Egyptian attempts to explore new horizons. Formational art aspects are manifest in a set of human and animal statuettes. The hall reflects the influence other foreign civilisations that appeared in lower Nubia, such as 1
  4. 4. the Kush state civilisation, which afterwards became a kingdom similar to the Theban kingdom in Upper Egypt and the Hyksos civilisation which flourished in the Delta. +Glorious past+ In the main exhibition hall, there are antiquities of such great Egyptian Pharaohs as Ramses 11. These relive the deep-rooted and glorious past and old military victories, such as the victory over the Hittites at the battle of Qadesh. There is also a hall for antiquities of the Graeco-Roman era, during which there was an obvious economic boost that had its impact on the apparent prosperity of the Nubians. This is clear in the bronze, jewellery and pottery crafts which appeared at the time and the ornamentation in which the Nubians adopted Egyptian, Greek and Roman elements. A strong Roman influence has been found in columns, capitals, pottery, wooden boxes inlaid with ivory, glass receptacles and silver objects inlaid with precious and semi-precious gems. Christianity evidently replaced the old Pagan beliefs in Nubia. Nubia during the Coptic era, throughout the eighth and ninth centuries, enjoyed an unprecedented period of welfare. Many of the temples were turned into churches. Articles in the exhibition include coloured mural tableau from tenth-century churches depicting a saint sitting on a chair, a painting of the Archangel Michael blessing a man, and a scene in which only a foot of a man appears trying to mount a horse. In front of the latter a man stands inside a receptacle on which was written in Coptic: My Lord, have mercy upon me! This could mean that the man had been exposed to torture. +Intermingling of religion+ After Islam entered Nubia, the Islamic culture strongly intermixed with the Coptic. There are models of clothes and furniture with long ribbons adorned with animal or plant embellishments in the form of birds and hares dating back to the Mamluke epoch. There are also Kufic scriptures on tombstones made of sandstone from Fatimid, Abbasid and Ikishid times. There are household utensils such as wooden or ceramic receptacles, spinning and dyeing tools and a checkers game of wood inlaid with silver and ivory with 15 ivory and 15 ebony pieces. The game looks like the modern chess game. A special hall is dedicated to an irrigation project carried out in the 19th century. The hall has illustrated pictures of the first Aswan dam. Egypt is divided into five irrigation sections, three in the Delta and two in the upper Nile Valley. The pictures demonstrate the use of water-lifting apparatus, 2
  5. 5. including the ++shaduf++. This represents the first appearance of crop irrigation mechanisation. The ++shaduf++ was created in the 18th Dynasty, while the water wheel or ++saqieh++ appeared at the beginning of the Rtolemaic era. Worth noting is that the Nubians learnt about the ++saqieh++ only at the beginning of the Christian era. The ++shaduf++, incidentally, proves how good ancient Egyptians were at illustrative art. There are also modern pictures of the High Dam and the history of the building of the Aswan Dam at the hands of the British engineer Sir William Wilcox. +International rescue+ Another hall is allotted to the international effort to rescue Nubian monuments, which had been threatened with submersion three times before the building of the High Dam. These efforts continued for nearly 20 years, and were undertaken by 40 foreign archaeological missions. Scientific studies were conducted at the sites. The hall contains photographs and drawings illustrating the rescue of both Abu Simbel and Philae temples. As for the most impressive hall of the museum in both form and content, this has to be the Nubian folklore legacy hall where Nubian folkloric forms and expressions are diversified in the form of statues incorporating popular Nubian traditions and conventions, such as the practice of using henna, adorning the bride and the collective dance in which men and women participate. There are also statues of children receiving their schooling in the Kuttab. +Home grown crafts+ An area is allocated to quasi-primitive Nubian crafts such as baskets and mats made of palm leaves—date palms constitute a complementary part of the Nubian environment. Natural panoramas painted by Nubian artists depend on the palm as a main element in the landscape. One may notice that such crafts depend completely on women, who start their training at a very early age. There is also cotton and wool weaving on looms. Nubian art reflects unique cultural particularities, which include popular and magical symbols and beliefs appearing in tattoos and in the mural paintings that decorate house façades and entrances. Paintings of scorpions, eyes, triangles or braids of artificial pearls, sea shells or hair reflect the Nubians’ beliefs and practices concerning the combating of evil and protecting themselves against envy. 3
  6. 6. +Magical meanings+ These decorative elements frequently carry expressive or magical indications. The sword symbolises heroism and courage: the crescent, the star and the black cat suggest optimism; while the crow and the owl are symbols of ill-fate and dilapidation. Flowers symbolise friendship and love, while the apple represents feminine temptation. The chameleon incorporates capricious and iridescent morals. The turtle represents laziness. As for the pitcher and prayer rug, they symbolize purity and chastity. Through the exhibited articles, the folkloric art of Nubia may prove the means for the Nubians to hold on to a record of their historical identity. 4
  7. 7. WATANI English Section 20 October 2002 Translator: Donia / copy editor: Samia/Jenny Word count: 167 ++ Counting the Years++ Wagdy Habashy Because of his remarkable impact on the Egyptian cultural field during the second half of the 20th century, the private collection of the Egyptian filmmaker Shadi Abdel-Salaam (1939–1986) will go on permanent exhibition at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria. The collection on exhibit includes some of Abdel-Salaam's set designs as well as his priceless library of 13,000 books on various subjects: culture, art and the cinema. Abdel-Salaam’s personal items such as furniture and a number of his many medals and prizes will also be on display, together with a special corner for memorabilia used in his famous film ++The Night of Counting the Years++, such as sketches and a sarcophagus. Abdel-Salaam was a wardrobe and set designer as well as a film-maker. He cherished the ancient Egyptian civilisation and was dubbed "the Akhenaten of his age". For several long years before his death he was busy preparing a film on Akhenaten, writing the screenplay and designing garments, jewellery and sets, but the film was never made.
  8. 8. WATANI English Section 3 November 2002 Translator: Donia/Marina / copy editor: Jenny/Samia Word count: 1306 A figure of light Georgette Sadek Nora Naguib Mary Wasfi Box • Taha Hussein was born in Upper Egypt. He lost his sight at the age of three. • He is the doyen of contemporary Arabic literature and a pioneer of enlightenment. • His education began at the hands of the teacher of the village ++kottaab++ (small primitive school where children were taught to read, write, do rudimentary arithmetic and learn the Holy Book). He went on to study at al-Azhar – the ancient Islamic institute of Cairo – and then to the Sorbonne in Paris on a scholarship. In Paris he was first exposed to the wide world of western and global thought. He met and married his wife of a lifetime, Suzanne. • In 1914 he earned the first doctorate granted by an Egyptian University, and in 1918 he obtained a second PhD in Social Philosophy from the Sorbonne in Paris. • In 1919 he was appointed a professor of history at the Egyptian University. He did not confine himself to political and constitutional history, but transferred to his students his knowledge of the Greek philosophers and dramatists such as Sophocles and Aeschylus • He was granted honorary doctorates from the universities of Oxford, Madrid, and Rome • He assumed office as Minister of Education in 1950, when he was able to put his motto "Education is like the water we drink and the air
  9. 9. we breath" into practice. Under his ministry, elementary and secondary education was made available to Egyptians free of charge • The greater part of Taha Hussein’s canon is basically influenced by Greek culture. He issued ++Selected Pages from Greek Dramatic Poetry++ (1920), ++The Athenian System++ (1921) and ++Leaders of Thought++ (1925. The link between his Arabic culture and that of Greece was a focal point of his philosophy. • The first book was an incomplete attempt at an account of Greek poets and their works. The second was a meticulous translation of one of the most important texts of Greek history of civilisation. Hussein dealt with the religious impact on thought in the Middle Ages, then moved on to the Modern Ages of multi-cultural influences. • Hussein waged many battles for enlightenment, respect of reason and thought, and women’s emancipation. The first of these was in 1926 when he issued ++Pre-Islamic Poetry++, which was highly controversial in both political and literary circles, and aroused widescale front-page arguments in newspapers. Hussein argued that he had adopted a modern scientific method of approach in his treatise on Pre-Islamic poetry, according to the school of the French philosopher Descartes in his reasoning in search of the truth. Today Egypt commemorates Taha Hussein (1889-1973) as one of the most prominent figures of Egyptian enlightenment and contemporary cultural. + ++Ramatan++ + In recognition of Hussein's achievements for Egypt, the State has purchased his residence ++Ramatan++ in Giza, near the Pyramids and converted it into a museum. ++Ramatan++, which literally means in Arabic ‘two places of rest,’ as in oases where travelling caravans stop to rest, was originally designed with two separate entrances. It had been Hussein’s wish that his son, Dr Mo’nes, share his residence, so he had the house so designed with to preserve the privacy and freedom of each. +Inside+ The museum or "Ramatan" includes two floors. The ground floor houses Hussein's study and part of his 7,000-book library, and a large reception hall where he received men of letters, politicians and artists every Sunday
  10. 10. evening. In one of the corners of this hall stands a piano, a gramophone and records of musical works by Schubert, Verdi, Bach, Mozart and Schumann. The top floor contains three bedrooms and a small hall with a closet enclosing the decorations, medals and orders he received in his lifetime. In the 1,301-sq. m. garden is a bust of Hussein by the Egyptian sculptor Farouk Ibrahim. Another bronze bust of Hussein by Abdel-Kader Rizq is placed at the entry of the ground floor. A smaller building designed in the same style of the villa has been converted into a cultural centre which will be used for seminars and cultural exhibitions to keep Hussein's legacy alive. +Sunday Salon gatherings+ The reception hall on the same floor was where Hussein would receive his guests − mainly intellectuals − every Sunday to discuss ideological and literary issues. Members of the Arab Language Council – of which Hussein was head – used also to meet there when Hussein could no longer go out frequently in his later days. This room, known as the ++Sunday Salon++ contains sofas, chairs, Pharaonic statues and paintings, many from south of Italy. There is a splendid painting representing Old Cairo, as well as portraits: one of his wife, Suzanne, and the other of his daughter Amina. Celebrities from Egypt and all over the world visited this salon. Among them were the Spanish ambassador, who presented Dr Hussein with his honorary doctorate from Madrid, and the Italian ambassador who gave him a doctorate from the History Academy in Rome. In this room Dr Hussein received the president’s deputy who honoured him with the Collar of the Nile, the highest Egyptian decoration which is normally only presented to kings and state presidents. +An act of robbery+ On one occasion the Nile medal was among the things lost during a robbery at the villa. However, when the thief learned from the papers that it was Taha Hussein’s villa he had robbed, he immediately returned all the stolen goods. In this hall, Hussein received well-known foreign authors, among them an Iranian scholar who, before shaking hands, recited the first chapter of ++Al- Ayam++, Hussein’s autobiographical masterpiece. He only stopped his recitation when Hussein joked to his visitor that he already knew the rest of the book by heart. A dining room furnished with a round table, a sideboard and paintings adjoins the salon.
  11. 11. +The second floor+ There are six rooms on the second floor, including he bedroom of Mo’nes, Dr Hussein’s son, who now works for UNESCO in Paris. Next is the music room which contains classical and European music tapes. The museum is planning to put these files on tape to be played at parties held in the museum’s garden, and named ++Music Taha Hussein loved++. After this comes Suzanne’s room, which includes simple French furniture and an icon of St Mary, a present from Hussein, as well as paintings by French artists. Next to this room is Hussein’s bedroom, furnished in a simple French style. The fifth room is the living room, where Hussein would meet close friends, and which contains a portrait of Mo’nes and a half statue of his daughter Amina. The last room is now used by museum staff. +Medals on show++ The walls of the corridors are decorated with ++Kabaa++ covers. The honorary medals Hussein received are on shelves, among them a metal ring on a wooden slate, a prize for human rights which the UN conferred on him in 1973 shortly before his death his death. There is also the Order of the Republic, the Collar of the Nile, conferred on him in 1965 and now restored after its aborted theft. +Reviving the memory+ The Ministry of Culture is planning to establish an additional two-storey building for cultural activities. Taha Hussein’s writings in the periodicals, newspapers and magazines of the day, his speeches and interviews broadcast on radio and television all over the world will be amassed in an information centre as a reference for scholars. A musical library will be part of these renovations so the tapes and CDs will be protected from damage or loss. There will be annual literary and artistic competitions, as well as museum shows. Egypt thus hopes to immortalise its son Taha Hussein, who was able to his transcend both his affliction with blindness and his humble upbringing, and move on towards helping bring Egypt to the doorstep of enlightenment and global culture.
  12. 12. WATANI English Section 4 January / 16 July 2003 Compiled by: Samia / copy editor: Jenny Word count: 535 Tribute to an immortal queen As Cairo celebrated its national day earlier this month, a statue of Umm Kulthoum, the Egyptian diva aptly named ‘the star of the orient’ and the ‘queen of Arabic singing’ was unveiled in Zamalek, Cairo, where she had resided. +Tuned in+ The 6-metre statue is a gift of Coptic public figure Nabil Luqa Bibawy. Born in a small rural village east of the Damietta branch of the Nile Delta, at a date that is not known for certain, but the most reliable suggestion is May 1904, to a poor family, her career started with her early chanting of the Qur’an with her ++imam++ father. Her strong warm expressive voice turned her into the most famous singer in the Arab world—her concerts, held regularly on the first Thursday every month, kept people from Kuwait to Morocco in their homes tuned to the radio. She died in 1975. +The museum+ The voice of Umm Kulthoum still echoes in Cairo. To commemorate the immortal role played by the queen of Arab singing in enriching the Arab and Egyptian ethos, and in appreciation of her genuine art, for her noble national and human behaviour and the valuable heritage she left, both personal and public, the Ministry of Culture has set up a museum which opened in December 2001. Plans for the museum, conceived as a cultural and artistic lighthouse symbolising her prolific creativity, had been ongoing since April1998. +Epitome of glamour and style+ 1
  13. 13. Appropriately for one who epitomised glamour and style, Umm Kulthoum’s museum has been set up on Roda Island on a riverside site in one of the buildings annexed to the Manasterli Palace. The palace is set at the western tip of the island, on a spot known as al-Miqias (literally, the measurement) owing to the famous Nilometer which stands beside it and acts as a tourist attraction. The Manasterli Palace itself is one of the city's most important historical monuments. An architectural masterpiece built in 1851by Hassan Fouad Pasha al-Manasterli, a senior official in the reign of Abbas Helmi I (1850-1854), it reflects the sumptuous decorative style of its age. It is with this rich background that Umm-Kulthoum’s memorial now stands. +Special contents+ Since the first committee set up to acquire the belongings of Umm Kulthoum was formed on 5 May 1998, efforts have been underway to collect as many of her personal articles, gifts and souvenirs as possible. The committee asked her family, friends and admirers for objects which will enrich the museum and reflect Umm Kulthoum’s taste and her vision of art and culture. The committee is still adding to its collection, combing all sources and sparing no effort to obtain items under the supervision of the Cultural Development Fund. Items already obtained include personal objects such as clothes, ornaments, handbags, shoes and other personal articles. Other objects are artistic—her lute, her musical notes, rare recordings and films. A third category covers letters exchanged between the late singer and dignitaries of the era—politicians and public figures—as well as photographs and memoirs. There are also medals presented to her by Arab governments, and other documents and mementos from celebrities in the field of art who played a great part in the life of Umm Kulthoum. Attachment 2
  14. 14. WATANI English Section 15 June 2003 Compiled by: Samia / copy editor: Samia Word count: 239 New museum for Egyptian treasures: The winning design Egypt has unveiled the design of a grand new museum to house its wealth of Pharaonic treasures. +Ready for 2007+ To be built into a desert hillside on an area of 117 feddans, 2km from the Giza Pyramids, it will be the biggest museum in the world. It is expected to exhibit some 100,000 pieces taken from the storerooms and displays at Cairo's 100-year-old Egyptian Museum, which has been internationally criticised for its poor labelling and jumbled layout. Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni told a press conference last Monday that – at the cost of an estimated $350 million – the new museum will be jointly financed by foreign grants and the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and soft loans if necessary. Work is expected to get underway this year, and it is expected that the new museum would be completed in 2007. +Triangular panels+ Last Monday, Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak distributed the awards of the world competition which had been organised by the Culture Ministry to design the Egyptian Grand Museum. An international jury had chosen as the winning design that of Shih-Fu Peng of the Dublin firm Heneghan Peng Architects. The design is modern, with triangular panels on the front and roof, mirroring the shape of its near neighbours, the ancient pyramids at Giza. The first prize won by the Irish architects stood at $250,000; two Austrians won the second prize worth $150,000 and an Italian won the third, worth $100,000. 1
  15. 15. WATANI International 13 June 2004 Compiled and edited by Samia Word count: 476 Museum blues A collection of 38 pieces of ancient Roman jewellery—36 bracelets and two rings, all made of gold—are missing from the National Egyptian Museum, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawwas announced last Sunday. The jewellery was unearthed in 1905 in an area known as Apollo’s Hill in Beheira, west of the Delta, and was last recorded as part of an exhibit which returned from Japan in 1984. +Missing jrewellery+ The announcement comes two weeks following unconfirmed media reports that 38 gold pieces from King Tutankhamun’s treasures had gone missing. Hawwas strongly denied that any of Tutankhamun’s treasures was missing, and said that the jewellery may have been lost in the museum basement as a result of “negligence or administrative reasons related to participation in exhibitions”. “The next few days will clarify matters, he said. A committee will review all 60 000 items in the museum, particularly the ancient jewellery section and the King Tutankhamun treasure.” If it is discovered that theft was the cause, “it would have taken place before 2000 when an advanced security system was installed at the museum,” he said. “I referred all papers to the district attorney to find out about the case, but I personally believe that the bracelets are in the museum,” he said, blaming the disappearance on poor curatorship. +Cataloguing artefacts+ Egypt is about to begin a painstaking five-year task of cataloguing and restoring some 90,000 Pharaonic and other artefacts which have lain almost forgotten for decades since they were dug from ancient ruins. 1
  16. 16. Hawass said last Sunday said that, since about three weeks ago, the artefacts in the basement of the Egyptian Museum are being moved into storage elsewhere. From there they will be recorded, photographed and restored if necessary—a job which will take a good five years. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo boasts a stunning array of antiquities, including the death mask and other artefacts of the boy king Tutankhamun, but the display of the a vast collection is poorly labelled and dusty. +No one knows+ Hawass said that the more than 100-year-old museum had been the store for most finds from archaeological digs since it was built, but poor curatorship meant items were often difficult to find or lost amidst the piles of boxes. “The museum basement is a maze of corridors, he said. No one knows anything about it.” While the artefacts are being catalogued, the basement will be renovated so the items can be properly stored on their return. The renovation will enable the museum to reduce the size of its permanent display to improve its design, Hawass added. We are going to have a basement like that of the British Museum, where you can put numbered and catalogued artefacts. For the first time, we will train the curators to understand what is the meaning of curatorship,” he said. 2