Thursday, 13 April 2017

K is for..Keda keda!...and...Khayal el Zill...and the Khan...



is for

Keda keda!


This is a super untranslatable phrase :) – I can only tell you it’s used a lot! Technically it means 'like this' but the colloquial usage is not restricted to the meaning. It can be an expression of affirmation, triumph, defiance...it's one of those shape-shifting nifty phrases, like water - fits anything that it's poured into.


And here is a number titled Keda keda, from a Lebanese artist.






Khayal el Zill 


which loosely translates to ‘shadows of the imagination’ and refers to shadow puppetry, all the pun intended.  Broadly speaking, it was a form of popular theatre, uniquely Egyptian screen entertainment before the advent of TV/cinema.   


It is thought that the first performances began at the founding of Cairo in the 10th century itself, and by the 13th/14th century it was wildly popular, the shows being held across the city. For any celebratory occasion – weddings, circumcisions, and of course, in high demand for the nights of the holy month of Ramadan.   Many of the plays were serial in nature, designed to keep the audiences coming back for more. 

A 'screenshot' of a different kind! Performance of Khayal el Zil 
in an old merchant residence by a folk theatre group.  Cairo.


It helped that the plays were performed on portable, foldable stages. Relatively small, they could be set up quickly anywhere. Mounted on wooden rods, the foot-high puppets were made of camel hide stretched thin and translucent, and were constructed so that their limbs could move independently.  Each company had their own raees el khayal, or master of the shadows, and enough plays for each night of the Ramadan, when crowds assembled after the iftar at sunset in public spaces for entertainment. The puppeteers not only used the puppets, they augmented the storytelling with different voices for the different characters, sound effects, music, lights. 


The development of plastics meant that skills with wood and leather, the slow, prideful processes of individual hand-crafted puppets were gradually lost.  The audiences disappeared into cinemas and then gravitated in front of living room TV’s. The master of shadows no longer held audiences in thrall after nightfall. (Read more here)


Khan el Khalili!


Often called just the ‘Khan’, the Khan el Khalili was set up in the heart of Fatimid Cairo by Emir Djaharks el-Khalili in 1382.  It has been in continuous operation ever since, a pivotal hub of trade in medieval times and the most important retail area in Cairo still, after almost seven centuries. 


Somewhere near the metaworkers and coppersmiths lane.

 
There are many arches dating from centuries 
ago.

Essentially, it is an Arab, open-air marketplace - a maze of tiny, whip-thin, old lanes of shops and ancient monuments, a total treasure-trove if you are interested in shopping, or ancient buildings.  A must-visit if you are in Cairo!
 
A shop selling lamps and lanterns.  


Spice seller's display. In medieval times, Egypt was a major 
trading point for spices.



And also the award winning Arabic operatic singer and composer, Hiba Al Kawasbecause I don't want to give the impression that Arab music is only pop, rap and alternative. There has always been a very classical, traditional side to Arab music, right alongside modern/folk/pop.

And finally, here is Cheb Khaled, the King of Rai from Algeria, can't leave him out!  He has a list of awards longer than my arm...







Did you Know Cheb Khaled has been performing and Knocking people's socks off with his music since the age of 14? And that the word 'Rai' translates to opinion? Rai music is a blend of traditional Bedouin desert music and pop. The lyrics, often switching between Arabic and French, can be frank, sometimes bawdy, to the point of offending the more conservative Islamic elements.






Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2017  

53 comments:

  1. This was such a pleasure to read, much thought and dedication must have gone into your post. As I've said before it is so interesting to read and learn about other cultures in the world.

    Yvonne.

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    1. 'Culture surprise' is my drug of choice :) thanks for being here.

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  2. I learned a new word today! ( I will use it to affirm liking...) The shadow performance art seem quite splendid, will try to get glimpse of it on YouTube. :D
    I the marketplace reminded me of Agrabah, as you have shown the shops selling lamps.
    Enjoyed the post
    Thanks for sharing!
    Best Wishes!
    Killer's Confession: A Poem

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    1. The market sells more than lamps - very mundane stuff and aloo pyaaz sold also :) glad you enjoyed the post, thanks for stopping by.

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  3. Keda Keda starts off rather haunting. I like the phrase and the idea of shape shifting...it bends as needed. Very Kool.....yes, I'm stretching my use of K.

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    1. K is a letter that is there for the stretching :)

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  4. I love phrases like that. I'll have to listen for it.

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    1. I'm sure there are phrases like that in every language...hold more shades of meaning than the literal.

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  5. Keda Keda does indeed sount haunting. Love the idea of shape shifting phrases - and indeed it seems (now at least) to be true of the whole Arab culture. What you see depends on perspective.
    I had thought shadow puppetry began in China. Learning is always a wonderful thing. Megathanks. Again.

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    1. Shadow puppetry did originate in China. Then diffused along the silk route to India and Persia and onward. The Egyptian version began at the founding of Cairo is what I meant. That backstory got chopped out because all my A-Z are shamelessly beyond every prescribed word count!

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    2. I would happily read your posts at double the length

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    3. Thank you! That is a serious boost to ye olde morale :) Most bloggers post less than 400, some post 100-200 words for the A-Z. By contrast, my W.C. cannot be mentioned publicly - it's a bit embarrassing! And of course, it loses me readers, many visit and then hotfoot it out of here because of the length - but what to do? Must do justice to the subject in hand also. Thanks again for your support! Much appreciated!

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  6. Wow! Such a massive wealth of knowledge in your posts. Your style of narration is so interesting and fun that it makes facts, tale-like.
    Also, i thank you from my heart for taking the time to visit my blog and for helping me with beneficial feedbacks. Means a lot to the novice.
    Moon
    https://aslifehappens60.wordpress.com

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    1. Like I said before the ME is a cultural treasure trove, there is no dearth of information - it's a real tough job to keep the posts from becoming a dissertation :) Thanks for reading.

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  7. I like the variety of themes for every letter.
    I was happy to see Cheb Khaled, too. I was happy to attend one of his concerts (in Canada!), and it was just fantastic. My husband and I were the "less Arabic" people there, and everybody around us knew the songs by heart... :D
    -----
    Eva - Mail Adventures

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  8. Another wonderful dip into Arab culture. I always click the link to the music and listen with pleasure while I read your lovely words. I hope the puppet masters make a comeback, seems a pity that cinema and TV have replaced them.
    Karma #Lexicon of Leaving

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    1. Right now all of us are too enamoured of our gizmos and their screens for the rais al khayal to make a comeback...but who knows? maybe someday in the future when we get tired of the digital and mass produced and slick plasticky stuff and long for craftsmanship and individuality and laid back charm...there is always hope...

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    2. And the music's top of the post for precisely that purpose...so as you can listen while you read...glad you enjoyed it

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  9. I love reading your blog. The musical piece is something I click on first each time. Thanks for the effort!
    I wrote about Kindness, something that stays at the top of my mind these days https://archanablogs.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/k-is-for-kindness/

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    1. My pleasure entirely. I love Arabic music - so peppy! it's great to be able to share it through the A-Z. Thanks for being here.

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  10. Keda Keda... new addition to my vocab! Khayal el zill sounds something similar to what we had in India in olden days as "Prakash chitre" or shadow puppets... and was particularly delighted to discover that even in olden days the concpet of "serials" or "episodes" was used to bring back the viewers to the show!!!
    ------------------------------------------------
    Anagha From Team MocktailMommies
    Collage Of Life

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    1. True that. Shadow puppetry started in China and then came to India...and serialisation has been used as hooking tactics for centuries everywhere :)

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  11. LOVELOVELOVE all of this! 👏👏👏👏

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  12. So many interesting bits and pieces today, all of them new to me except the fabulous market lanes in Cairo. Another wonderful post.

    K day in Amble Bay!

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    1. They are fabulous, aren't they? Sharia Muizz is my favourite place in all of Cairo :)

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  13. I enjoyed the great photo captures of the open market, people, and culture - nicely done. I love mewsic! The first song is perhaps my favorite of the two. I preferred the vocals and mewsic arrangement over the later choice. Thanks for the insight and education in today's post and thank you for visiting my latest edition of Art Sketching Through the Alphabet. Happy A2Zing!

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  14. I would love to see some traditional shadow puppetry. I know it is very popular in many countries, and they tell some of the most wonderful stories with it...
    Also, Cheb Khaled sings "Aicha", one of my favorite songs :)

    The Multicolored Diary: WTF - Weird Things in Folktales

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  15. Lots of excellent K words today. I would love to wander through that market.

    K is for Kevlar—Gift From Aliens?

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    1. It is indeed a great place to wander... :)

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  16. Wow that was a serious bit of A to Z but rather interesting. I am impressed and wish you all the best on your journey to Z.

    Thank you for visiting my own blog it is always good to get a few visits. You are doing much better than I am for visitors but with that amount of hard work you deserve then all and more. One of the best A to Z's I have seen in a while

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    1. Thank you for coming over. Very kind of you - that is high praise indeed :)

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  17. Joe Ashkar is not too bad looking. Just Saying ;)

    joy @ The Joyous Living

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    1. Yeah, many of them are not too bad looking, if you ask me :D

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  18. I love shadow puppetry and silhouettism! The oldest known surviving animated feature, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, is in silhouettism.

    The Khan el Khalili sounds like a lot of fun. I assume it's basically the same as a bazaar or shuk.

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    1. I didn't know about Prince Achmed feature - thanks for sharing it here. The Khan is indeed a souq.

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  19. I did not know this blog was over here! As soon as I had read some and listened to the music, I went back to F because I knew that Fairouz had to be there and she was! I will be back. I studied Arabic (not enough to do anything with) when I was in college back in the 1960s and I learned to love Fairouz' voice then.
    Finding Eliza

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    1. Any blog theme on Arab music/culture has to include Fairouz, how can it not? :) she's here for A as well...love her voice from the first time I heard her.

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  20. K is for knowledge; which comes from the insight you brought in this post. Thank you

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    1. Knowledge is a great word for K - the early Arabs valued it, their Quran extols it.

      Always wondered though why the K is silent...thanks for being here!

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  21. I hope the shadow puppet show doesn't die out altogether. There's something very charming about those more traditional forms of entertainment.

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    1. I'm afraid it already has kind of disappeared in Egypt at least, don't know about Turkey. Some efforts at revival, but that mass appeal and high turnout is no longer there. Agree about the charms of traditional forms of entertainment - losing puppetry especially is regrettable because puppet making itself is an art!

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  22. Very much similar to our Wayang Kulit (shadow play) However for ours(in Malaysia) it is very much inclined towards the Sanskrit/Hindu stories and legends!

    Hank

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    1. Traditionally religion has provided all entertainment too, no different with the Khayal el Zill - most of the traditional shows were Islamic in nature with messages and morals incorporated into them.

      Shadow puppetry is possibly older in Malaysia than Egypt, it originated in China spread from there to other regions. So proximity would have ensured it spread to Malaysia before it came to Egypt and Turkey.

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    2. You're right Nilan! We have the Ramayana stories in shadow play. Hinduism came here much earlier and entrenched itself before Islam which came in the 1400s

      Hank

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    3. Hinduism itself is at least a couple of millennia older than Islam. The Ramayana was written around 500 BCE and then diffused eastwards. Shadow puppets were being used in India and China for story telling by the second century BCE. Hindu and Hinduism are relatively modern terms devised by foreigners. The original Indian name is Sanatana Dharma, Sanatana means 'timeless' 'eternal' and that hints at its great age. Thank you for your interesting contributions on this post/subject!

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  23. Your posts this year are so good.

    I watched a silent movie with no words from the turn of the last century. It was a good little movie. I thought about that in reading about the puppet plays. A resurrection of one of the plays would probably be very good.

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    1. I understand not many of the scripts for those medieval shadow plays have survived sadly. But yes, it would be great if the artform were revived.

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  24. Ah, puppetry. I thought it was such a cool art form back in the day, and I always wanted to watch a Punch and Judy show. Alas, it's a rarity nowadays, relegated only to the occasional carnival.

    Or bad ventriloquist stand-comedy acts.

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    1. I guess we got infatuated with brighter and apparently snazzier little screens...quite blinded by them in fact :)

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