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Anthropology of the Nubians
© Experience Nubia
© Experience Nubia
The old dam
1899:1th attempt to
control the yearly flooding
of the Nile and facilitate
irrigation.
1902: “Old dam” finished
Length: 2140 m.
Between 1908-1912 and
1929-1934 the Old Dam
was increased until the
current 41 m height.
Anthropology of the Nubians
Aswan Dam, trauma of the Nubians
© Experience Nubia
The new dam: “High dam”
Effect old dam insufficient
1960 Egyptian president
Gamal Abdel Nasser:
higher dam 7 km further south,
3600 m length , 111 m height.
Lake Nasser
the largest reservoir in Africa
emerged: 500 km long, 25 km
wide, 180 m deep.
Aswan Dam, trauma of the Nubians
Anthropology of the Nubians
© Experience Nubia
the High dam - Aswan
Anthropology of the Nubians
© Experience Nubia
Reasons for the construction of the High Dam:
Economic need: fights against annual floods and prevent hunger and poverty
Energy power generation: securing electricity for Egypt
Consequences construction of the High Dam :
fertile Nile sludge no longer over the fields
nowadays much artificial fertilizer used
exhaustion of farmland
Nile Delta becomes silted up
Erosion coastlines eastern Mediterranean coast accelerated
Aswan dam
http://www.history.com/videos/the-aswan-high-dam#the-aswan-high-dam
© Experience Nubia
• Nubian temples almost dissapeared underwater
•A total of 14 temples between Philae and Abu
Simbel (besides tombs and others ruins)
Implications of Lake Nasser for
Nubian heritage
© Experience Nubia
Implications of Lake Nasser for
Nubian heritage
•Spectaculair
international
rescue campaign,
coordinated by
UNESCO
http://www.youtube.co
m/watch?v=Ur-
H7dP8FNc
© Experience Nubia
Lake Nasser : implications Nubian community
Anthropology of the Nubians
Lake Nasser : implications Nubian community
Anthropology of the Nubians
The Nubian villages disappeared under water.
50.000 Nubians evacuated to Egypt. Had to build up new life north of Aswan.
Similar number to Sudan.
© Experience Nubia
3 million date palms underwater. Main source of income!
Compensation per tree: Egypt 15 piaster. Sudan: 5 SP
Anthropology of the Nubians
Zeer hechte gemeenschap met
eeuwenoude tradities viel uit elkaar
Lake Nasser : implications Nubian community
© Experience Nubia
Anthropology of the Nubians
Very close community with ancient traditions fell apart
Lake Nasser : Nubian community
© Experience Nubia
Anthropology of the Nubians
The evacuation
Lake Nasser : implications Nubian community
From the lonely peace in isolated villages Nile to stone houses in the desert
Far away from the Nile, which had determined economic and socio-cultural life
Lake Nasser : implications Nubian community
Anthropology of the Nubians
New houses near Kom Ombo (40 km north of Aswan)
Anthropology of the Nubians
“Nubian ceremonial life”
studies in Islamic syncretism
and cultural change
“Nefertari’s palm trees”:
Documentary film about a Nubian
woman refusing to leave her homeland
Anthropology of the Nubians
General features of social life:
Dual: women and men have their own social life
Women mainly have two social groups: family - friends.
Reasons to join: socio-economic support – information sharing
Men ‘s own groups: work, socio-economic, friends, family
Strong social control, even more so for women (family honor)
Information exchange between networks
Many social obligations
Anthropology of the Nubians
© Experience Nubia
Daily life before the dam
Anthropology of the Nubians
• Many men worked in the big cities
• Women did most of the work:
baking of bread
fetching water
cultivating the land
harvesting dates
make products from date palm
create murals
raising children
© Experience Nubia
Daily life before the dam
Anthropology of the Nubians
Sagia – water wheel
More crops per year
Irrigation essential
It almost never rains!
© Experience Nubia
Daily life before the dam
Anthropology of the Nubians
Baking bread
© Experience Nubia
Daily life before the dam
Anthropology of the Nubians
Fetching water
© Experience Nubia
Anthropology of the Nubians
Daily life before the dam
Harvesting dates
© Experience Nubia
Daily life before the dam
Anthropology of the Nubians
Make products from date palm
Click for a short film
on the use and importance of date trees
for every day life in Nubia
© Experience Nubia
Daily life before the dam
Anthropology of the Nubians
Building houses and decorate them
© Experience Nubia
Anthropology of the Nubians
© Experience Nubia
Anthropology of the Nubians
Anthropology of the Nubians
More details: Animalia; “the unofficial Nubian Museum” Elephantine Island, Aswan
© Experience Nubia
Centuries-old traditions
Anthropology of the Nubians
Traditions and rituals integrated in daily life
• Took a lot of time, effort and money
• Originating from both pharaoh time as Christianity and Islam
• New influences were integrated into the traditions
• Extensive spiritual world. Superstition also plays major role
Important to understand impact of traditions in cultural life
© Experience Nubia
Centuries-old traditions
Anthropology of the Nubians
Decorative motifs moral or magical significance
• Stars, crescent: Islamic symbols, good omen
• Crows and owls: bad omens?
• Roses, flowers: friendship and love
• Apple: female attraction
• Sword: courage, heroic performance
• Jug and a prayer rug for purity and chastity
© Experience Nubia
Centuries-old traditions
Anthropology of the Nubians
Amulets
For luck and protection against the evil eye.
Painted on the walls or made from braided beads, shells or hair
And hung on poles of the bed or on the ceiling.
Baskets of palm branches and decorated with white shell
© Experience Nubia
Centuries-old traditions
Anthropology of the Nubians
The Nile played a central role in many traditions
Main source for life in Nubia:
• agriculture
• fishing
• mud (soil fertility, housing)
• drinking water
© Experience Nubia
Centuries-old traditions
Anthropology of the Nubians
• 3 types of traditions:
• Religious traditions
• Agricultural traditions
• Around "life events"
© Experience Nubia
Centuries-old traditions
Anthropology of the Nubians
Traditions and the Nile, e.g.:
Religious traditions
• during Islamic holidays
e.g. Eid, pilgrim feasts, New Year
with music (drums), vocals (religious songs)
• At birth local saints
Many (tombs of) local saints in Nubia!
© Experience Nubia
Centuries-old traditions
Anthropology of the Nubians
Traditions and the Nile, e.g.:
Agricultural traditions
Together they garnered dates
In the evenings party with music and dancing
© Experience Nubia
Centuries-old traditions
Anthropology of the Nubians
Traditions and the Nile, e.g.:
Births
• On the 40th day after birth, the mother went with the baby to the river,
to wash it with Nile water
• The mother took Nile water home to wash, threw 40 times water over
herself
(Father is absent at the birth of his child, stays elsewhere for 40 days)
• Baby is taken back and forth on the Nile ("essiwuwar“)
• Herbs in a bag of clothes of the baby
© Experience Nubia
Centuries-old traditions
Anthropology of the Nubians
Marriage
2 weeks in advance bride and groom invite each their families
Wedding Ceremonies:
 official part (family only)
 Feast used to last5-7 nights (now priceless)
Henna Night (kofree tur ')
The wedding ('acknowledge‘)
Man and woman together (Kopar tur ')
Party with dove, pancake ("meena tur")
Farewell party ("colad tur")?
Marriage and the Nile:
Groom: hands, feet and forehead painted with henna.
Then to the Nile to wash. Themselves clean is important for fertility.
Anthropology of the Nubians
Women: decoration with jewelry and henna
© Experience Nubia
Centuries-old traditions
Marriage
Movie: Nubian wedding http://youtu.be/YIMBEx-cazw
Anthropology of the Nubians
© Experience Nubia
Centuries-old traditions
Anthropology of the Nubians
Death
After some relative died, women washed their face in the Nile.
They thought this brought relaxation for the dead and cooled the body
Burial happens as soon as possible (for religious reasons and the climate)
Men mourn three days together and wait for family to come from far
Women take care of the meals
© Experience Nubia
Centuries-old traditions
Anthropology of the Nubians
The spirits of the Nile
• Was part of belief system, supernatural beings in the river
• Lived mainly in religious experience of women
• Could appear in various guises
• Lived in underwater castles (could be male or female)
• Representatives from the villages were contacts
© Experience Nubia
Centuries-old traditions
Anthropology of the Nubians
The spirits of the Nile
• Women consulted on the Nile Spirits:
Fertility, land cultivation, marriage, health
Requests via contact, or individually.
Candy, sugar, perfume or henna were thrown into the river
Or cooked food was hung on a tree above the water in a basket
Background of the Nile Spirits could be pharaonic
© Experience Nubia
Centuries-old traditions
Anthropology of the Nubians
The evil spirits of the Nile ("dogir")
Were identified with cannibals, samples (hunger for human flesh)
Preference for children
Were creative in making appointments and steal from the people
Could change shape, so difficult to recognize
Recognizable to "long eyes" or "blue eyes"
And long black hair, sometimes over the whole body
Through the nose they sucked your blood and the life out of you
(cf. dementor from Harry Potter)
© Experience Nubia
Centuries-old traditions
Anthropology of the Nubians
The evil spirits of the Nile ("dogir")
Some people were so afraid that they were mad with fear
Were told to children to make them afraid (warning?)
Mental illnesses were attributed to "dogir"
Their favorite places: in water wheels (sagia), cataracts, high rocks
and they often came out at night
Farmers had most contact with them
Risk of being lured into trap
Work: big cities, middle - east, tourism
Mubarak dictatorship: discrimination of the African minority
Culture: partly mixed with Egyptian
Language: also party mixed with Egyptian.
Recently Nubian language courses started in Cairo
Music : Culture well preserved and thriving
Anthropology of the Nubians
Nubian community 21e century
© Experience Nubia
© Experience Nubia
Nubian language
http://www.napata.org/Napata/language.html
3 languages - 3 Nubian groups
(“Nilo-Sahara” languages)
Kenzi:145 km south of Aswan
Fadija: 425 km more south
Dongolawi: another 350 further south
Nubian music: Hamza el-Din
Composed for the oud as a solo instrument.
Also played the tar, a percussion instrument in felucca's widely used
Influenced by folk music in the U.S.. Emigrated there.
Famous albums: “Music Of Nubia” and “Escalay: The Water Wheel”.
Anthropology of the Nubians
Nubian community 21e century
© Experience Nubia
Nubian music: Mohamed Mounir
• born in 1954 in Aswan
• immensely popular
• pop music oriented style
• Egyptian and African music styles
• Also inspired by reggae and jazz
•Texts often socially and politically
• Also known as a film actor
Anthropology of the Nubians
http://www.youtube.c
om/watch?v=mY4S7
FTyewM
http://www.youtube
.com/watch?v=BL-
rK64dLVo
Nubian community 21e century
© Experience Nubia
After the 2011 revolution
• (some) freedom of expression
• Emancipation
• Nubians demand return of their land
• Nubians founded their own political party
Nubia in the 21e century
Anthropology of the Nubians
© Experience Nubia
© Experience Nubia
Literature and links about Nubia
* Rolf Herzog “Die Nubier” 1957
*R. Fernea, G. Gerster “Nubians in Egypt” 1973
* De zwarte farao’s; de tentoonstelling. John Vrieze, 1997
* Nubië aan de Nijl; voorportaal van Afrika.
Haags gemeentemuseum, 22 sept.-25 nov. 1979
* National Geographic febr. 2008: De zwarte farao’s, R.Draper
* Dwars door Soedan; vriendelijke schurkenstaat aan de Nijl.
Gerben van der Aa, 2007. Nieuw Amsterdam uitgvers.
* Sudan, the Bradt travel guide. Door Paul Clammer, 2005.
* Sudan; the city trail guide to Khartoum and the rest of
Sudan. Blake Evans-Pritchard en Violetta Polese, 2008.
* l’ABC Claire du Soudan; royaumes sur le Nil. Catherine
Berger, Bérénice Geoffroy-Schneiter, Jean Leclant.
Flammarion / Institute du monde Arabe, 1997.
* Nubian women of West-Aswan. Negotiating tradition and
change. Anne M. Jennings,2009
* Nubian ceremonial life. Ed. John G. Kennedy. 2005.
* Ancient Nubia: African Kingdoms on the Nile. 2012
© Experience Nubia
Literature and links about Nubia
www.nubie-international.fr
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/88 Nubian monuments UNESCO
http://www.napata.org/Napata/language.html
http://www.numibia.net/nubia/index.htm Nubian museum Aswan
www.betelkerem.com
http://www.facebook.com/ExperienceNubia
https://twitter.com/#!/ExperienceNubia
Questions? experiencenubia@gmail.com

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Nubian culture and anthropology

  • 1. Anthropology of the Nubians © Experience Nubia
  • 2. © Experience Nubia The old dam 1899:1th attempt to control the yearly flooding of the Nile and facilitate irrigation. 1902: “Old dam” finished Length: 2140 m. Between 1908-1912 and 1929-1934 the Old Dam was increased until the current 41 m height. Anthropology of the Nubians Aswan Dam, trauma of the Nubians
  • 3. © Experience Nubia The new dam: “High dam” Effect old dam insufficient 1960 Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser: higher dam 7 km further south, 3600 m length , 111 m height. Lake Nasser the largest reservoir in Africa emerged: 500 km long, 25 km wide, 180 m deep. Aswan Dam, trauma of the Nubians Anthropology of the Nubians
  • 4. © Experience Nubia the High dam - Aswan Anthropology of the Nubians
  • 5. © Experience Nubia Reasons for the construction of the High Dam: Economic need: fights against annual floods and prevent hunger and poverty Energy power generation: securing electricity for Egypt Consequences construction of the High Dam : fertile Nile sludge no longer over the fields nowadays much artificial fertilizer used exhaustion of farmland Nile Delta becomes silted up Erosion coastlines eastern Mediterranean coast accelerated Aswan dam http://www.history.com/videos/the-aswan-high-dam#the-aswan-high-dam
  • 6. © Experience Nubia • Nubian temples almost dissapeared underwater •A total of 14 temples between Philae and Abu Simbel (besides tombs and others ruins) Implications of Lake Nasser for Nubian heritage
  • 7. © Experience Nubia Implications of Lake Nasser for Nubian heritage •Spectaculair international rescue campaign, coordinated by UNESCO http://www.youtube.co m/watch?v=Ur- H7dP8FNc
  • 8. © Experience Nubia Lake Nasser : implications Nubian community Anthropology of the Nubians
  • 9. Lake Nasser : implications Nubian community Anthropology of the Nubians The Nubian villages disappeared under water. 50.000 Nubians evacuated to Egypt. Had to build up new life north of Aswan. Similar number to Sudan.
  • 10. © Experience Nubia 3 million date palms underwater. Main source of income! Compensation per tree: Egypt 15 piaster. Sudan: 5 SP Anthropology of the Nubians Zeer hechte gemeenschap met eeuwenoude tradities viel uit elkaar Lake Nasser : implications Nubian community
  • 11. © Experience Nubia Anthropology of the Nubians Very close community with ancient traditions fell apart Lake Nasser : Nubian community
  • 12. © Experience Nubia Anthropology of the Nubians The evacuation Lake Nasser : implications Nubian community
  • 13. From the lonely peace in isolated villages Nile to stone houses in the desert Far away from the Nile, which had determined economic and socio-cultural life Lake Nasser : implications Nubian community Anthropology of the Nubians New houses near Kom Ombo (40 km north of Aswan)
  • 14. Anthropology of the Nubians “Nubian ceremonial life” studies in Islamic syncretism and cultural change “Nefertari’s palm trees”: Documentary film about a Nubian woman refusing to leave her homeland
  • 15. Anthropology of the Nubians General features of social life: Dual: women and men have their own social life Women mainly have two social groups: family - friends. Reasons to join: socio-economic support – information sharing Men ‘s own groups: work, socio-economic, friends, family Strong social control, even more so for women (family honor) Information exchange between networks Many social obligations
  • 17. © Experience Nubia Daily life before the dam Anthropology of the Nubians • Many men worked in the big cities • Women did most of the work: baking of bread fetching water cultivating the land harvesting dates make products from date palm create murals raising children
  • 18. © Experience Nubia Daily life before the dam Anthropology of the Nubians Sagia – water wheel More crops per year Irrigation essential It almost never rains!
  • 19. © Experience Nubia Daily life before the dam Anthropology of the Nubians Baking bread
  • 20. © Experience Nubia Daily life before the dam Anthropology of the Nubians Fetching water
  • 21. © Experience Nubia Anthropology of the Nubians Daily life before the dam Harvesting dates
  • 22. © Experience Nubia Daily life before the dam Anthropology of the Nubians Make products from date palm Click for a short film on the use and importance of date trees for every day life in Nubia
  • 23. © Experience Nubia Daily life before the dam Anthropology of the Nubians Building houses and decorate them
  • 26. Anthropology of the Nubians More details: Animalia; “the unofficial Nubian Museum” Elephantine Island, Aswan
  • 27. © Experience Nubia Centuries-old traditions Anthropology of the Nubians Traditions and rituals integrated in daily life • Took a lot of time, effort and money • Originating from both pharaoh time as Christianity and Islam • New influences were integrated into the traditions • Extensive spiritual world. Superstition also plays major role Important to understand impact of traditions in cultural life
  • 28. © Experience Nubia Centuries-old traditions Anthropology of the Nubians Decorative motifs moral or magical significance • Stars, crescent: Islamic symbols, good omen • Crows and owls: bad omens? • Roses, flowers: friendship and love • Apple: female attraction • Sword: courage, heroic performance • Jug and a prayer rug for purity and chastity
  • 29. © Experience Nubia Centuries-old traditions Anthropology of the Nubians Amulets For luck and protection against the evil eye. Painted on the walls or made from braided beads, shells or hair And hung on poles of the bed or on the ceiling. Baskets of palm branches and decorated with white shell
  • 30. © Experience Nubia Centuries-old traditions Anthropology of the Nubians The Nile played a central role in many traditions Main source for life in Nubia: • agriculture • fishing • mud (soil fertility, housing) • drinking water
  • 31. © Experience Nubia Centuries-old traditions Anthropology of the Nubians • 3 types of traditions: • Religious traditions • Agricultural traditions • Around "life events"
  • 32. © Experience Nubia Centuries-old traditions Anthropology of the Nubians Traditions and the Nile, e.g.: Religious traditions • during Islamic holidays e.g. Eid, pilgrim feasts, New Year with music (drums), vocals (religious songs) • At birth local saints Many (tombs of) local saints in Nubia!
  • 33. © Experience Nubia Centuries-old traditions Anthropology of the Nubians Traditions and the Nile, e.g.: Agricultural traditions Together they garnered dates In the evenings party with music and dancing
  • 34. © Experience Nubia Centuries-old traditions Anthropology of the Nubians Traditions and the Nile, e.g.: Births • On the 40th day after birth, the mother went with the baby to the river, to wash it with Nile water • The mother took Nile water home to wash, threw 40 times water over herself (Father is absent at the birth of his child, stays elsewhere for 40 days) • Baby is taken back and forth on the Nile ("essiwuwar“) • Herbs in a bag of clothes of the baby
  • 35. © Experience Nubia Centuries-old traditions Anthropology of the Nubians Marriage 2 weeks in advance bride and groom invite each their families Wedding Ceremonies:  official part (family only)  Feast used to last5-7 nights (now priceless) Henna Night (kofree tur ') The wedding ('acknowledge‘) Man and woman together (Kopar tur ') Party with dove, pancake ("meena tur") Farewell party ("colad tur")? Marriage and the Nile: Groom: hands, feet and forehead painted with henna. Then to the Nile to wash. Themselves clean is important for fertility.
  • 36. Anthropology of the Nubians Women: decoration with jewelry and henna
  • 37. © Experience Nubia Centuries-old traditions Marriage Movie: Nubian wedding http://youtu.be/YIMBEx-cazw Anthropology of the Nubians
  • 38. © Experience Nubia Centuries-old traditions Anthropology of the Nubians Death After some relative died, women washed their face in the Nile. They thought this brought relaxation for the dead and cooled the body Burial happens as soon as possible (for religious reasons and the climate) Men mourn three days together and wait for family to come from far Women take care of the meals
  • 39. © Experience Nubia Centuries-old traditions Anthropology of the Nubians The spirits of the Nile • Was part of belief system, supernatural beings in the river • Lived mainly in religious experience of women • Could appear in various guises • Lived in underwater castles (could be male or female) • Representatives from the villages were contacts
  • 40. © Experience Nubia Centuries-old traditions Anthropology of the Nubians The spirits of the Nile • Women consulted on the Nile Spirits: Fertility, land cultivation, marriage, health Requests via contact, or individually. Candy, sugar, perfume or henna were thrown into the river Or cooked food was hung on a tree above the water in a basket Background of the Nile Spirits could be pharaonic
  • 41. © Experience Nubia Centuries-old traditions Anthropology of the Nubians The evil spirits of the Nile ("dogir") Were identified with cannibals, samples (hunger for human flesh) Preference for children Were creative in making appointments and steal from the people Could change shape, so difficult to recognize Recognizable to "long eyes" or "blue eyes" And long black hair, sometimes over the whole body Through the nose they sucked your blood and the life out of you (cf. dementor from Harry Potter)
  • 42. © Experience Nubia Centuries-old traditions Anthropology of the Nubians The evil spirits of the Nile ("dogir") Some people were so afraid that they were mad with fear Were told to children to make them afraid (warning?) Mental illnesses were attributed to "dogir" Their favorite places: in water wheels (sagia), cataracts, high rocks and they often came out at night Farmers had most contact with them Risk of being lured into trap
  • 43. Work: big cities, middle - east, tourism Mubarak dictatorship: discrimination of the African minority Culture: partly mixed with Egyptian Language: also party mixed with Egyptian. Recently Nubian language courses started in Cairo Music : Culture well preserved and thriving Anthropology of the Nubians Nubian community 21e century © Experience Nubia
  • 44. © Experience Nubia Nubian language http://www.napata.org/Napata/language.html 3 languages - 3 Nubian groups (“Nilo-Sahara” languages) Kenzi:145 km south of Aswan Fadija: 425 km more south Dongolawi: another 350 further south
  • 45. Nubian music: Hamza el-Din Composed for the oud as a solo instrument. Also played the tar, a percussion instrument in felucca's widely used Influenced by folk music in the U.S.. Emigrated there. Famous albums: “Music Of Nubia” and “Escalay: The Water Wheel”. Anthropology of the Nubians Nubian community 21e century © Experience Nubia
  • 46. Nubian music: Mohamed Mounir • born in 1954 in Aswan • immensely popular • pop music oriented style • Egyptian and African music styles • Also inspired by reggae and jazz •Texts often socially and politically • Also known as a film actor Anthropology of the Nubians http://www.youtube.c om/watch?v=mY4S7 FTyewM http://www.youtube .com/watch?v=BL- rK64dLVo Nubian community 21e century © Experience Nubia
  • 47. After the 2011 revolution • (some) freedom of expression • Emancipation • Nubians demand return of their land • Nubians founded their own political party Nubia in the 21e century Anthropology of the Nubians © Experience Nubia
  • 48. © Experience Nubia Literature and links about Nubia * Rolf Herzog “Die Nubier” 1957 *R. Fernea, G. Gerster “Nubians in Egypt” 1973 * De zwarte farao’s; de tentoonstelling. John Vrieze, 1997 * Nubië aan de Nijl; voorportaal van Afrika. Haags gemeentemuseum, 22 sept.-25 nov. 1979 * National Geographic febr. 2008: De zwarte farao’s, R.Draper * Dwars door Soedan; vriendelijke schurkenstaat aan de Nijl. Gerben van der Aa, 2007. Nieuw Amsterdam uitgvers. * Sudan, the Bradt travel guide. Door Paul Clammer, 2005. * Sudan; the city trail guide to Khartoum and the rest of Sudan. Blake Evans-Pritchard en Violetta Polese, 2008. * l’ABC Claire du Soudan; royaumes sur le Nil. Catherine Berger, Bérénice Geoffroy-Schneiter, Jean Leclant. Flammarion / Institute du monde Arabe, 1997. * Nubian women of West-Aswan. Negotiating tradition and change. Anne M. Jennings,2009 * Nubian ceremonial life. Ed. John G. Kennedy. 2005. * Ancient Nubia: African Kingdoms on the Nile. 2012
  • 49. © Experience Nubia Literature and links about Nubia www.nubie-international.fr http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/88 Nubian monuments UNESCO http://www.napata.org/Napata/language.html http://www.numibia.net/nubia/index.htm Nubian museum Aswan www.betelkerem.com http://www.facebook.com/ExperienceNubia https://twitter.com/#!/ExperienceNubia Questions? experiencenubia@gmail.com