Wednesday, 26 April 2017

V is for...Voices...and...Vegetal



is for a no-show


Just like P, there is no V in Arabic! And yet Vega is the name of a star which has come from Arabic roots, go figure!


It’s a contraction of the original Arabic name An Nasr Al Waqi (the Falling/Diving Eagle).  When the name was transliterated into Latin maybe couple millennia ago, the W got replaced with a V, because Latin did not possess any W until the Middle Ages. Fun fact, yeah? Okay, now for the serious bit -




Voices – I witnessed some come out of the Arab Spring that year of 2011. Note that the first two are practically unknown, independent bands/artistes creating these powerful protest songs with minimal resources and massive dedication. Both of these bands existed before 2011, but shot to prominence through the Egyptian Revolution, Cairokee particularly so with this number which had more than a million views in a few days after they uploaded it to YouTube. Ana Mawgood (I exist) and Sout al Horreya (The Voice of Freedom) are especial favourites of mine. 


The Arab Spring, whatever its merits or flaws, or outcomes, spiked so much creativity in so many ways, it’s given rise to a cultural bonanza – in street art and music and theatre and photography, perhaps in fine arts and literature as well.  And it broke the taboo on the arts being used for social and political activism for that period.











Mohammed Mounir is an established artiste of some three decades' solid standing, known as ‘The King’ after his film ‘El Malik Huwa El Malik’ (The King is the King). Here is his Ezzay? (How come?) 








And, last but not the least, Vegetal designs – because  Islam forbade the depiction of the human form as idolatrous, Arab designers came up with new ways of decorating stuff, a set of motifs culled from preceding cultures and re-purposed to suit Islamic principles, based on flowers and vines and trees. These are called Vegetal designs.

Detail of vegetal design. Nasrid Palace. 
14th century. Alhambra, Granada, Spain.



They also developed a highly refined set of designs based on the geometry of the circle. These started off with a central shape and radiated out, and could be repeated infinitely to cover a surface no matter how large. I can tell you there were some serious Maths nerds among the early Arab scholars, and their formidable grasp of the subject must have kept the designing rolling along pretty nicely.

Vegetal designs at the back entrance of Al Azhar Mosque,
10th century. Cairo.



These styles of decorations were known as Arabesques, their origins made plain in the term itself, though now the word is largely outdated. 


Antique style gramophone horn with vegetal motifs. Coppersmiths'
market. 2012. Sharia Muizz. Khan el Khalili. Cairo.


Vegetal designs around rim of basin. Central fountain (sabil)
in the Barquq Complex. 14th century. Cairo.



Detail of design on the inside of an arch.
Al-Ghuri Mosque. 16th century. Cairo.

Detail of ceramic tile inset on contemporary
building facade, combining geometric and 

vegetal elements. 2014. Nizwa. Oman.

Detail of design carved on old wooden door shutters. 2016. National 
Museum, Manama, Bahrain.


These motifs remain part of the Arab design portfolio, many contemporary buildings also use them suitably updated.  Have you seen any  - on buildings, or book covers, coffee mugs, photo frames, where you are? 












Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2017 






48 comments:

  1. No V in Arabic. Interesting. I can see that as a story characteristic. The hero knows the bad guys lying because somehow he doesn't know that.

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    1. That would be clever - to hinge a reveal on V.

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  2. V is also for verisimilitude, which is sadly lacking in many reports about the Arabic world and culture.
    As you know, I am fascinated by the art. So much intricacy, so much detail, so much beauty...

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    1. Verisimilitude is a great V-word, must remember to work it in somehow in one of my A-Z's :)

      Totally share your fascination for Arab art! Beyond stunning!

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  3. Aabic art is so recognisable. Whether it's in ceramic form, carved or woven it's different from any other artistic style.

    Lady Violet of Amble Manor

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    1. Very true, it's quite unique and distinctive.

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  4. V is for the Voices or the art which you have brought to life. Thank you.

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    1. Quite a few things getting left out in all posts sadly not enough time and space to cover everything I'd have liked to. Thanks for your support!

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  5. How strange languages vary . No V in Arabic.
    I must say how wonderful those videos were and the pictures also likewise. Well done on a most great letter "V" post.

    Yvonne.

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    1. Arabic is missing quite a few English letters, but then it has others which are not found in English!

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  6. Such motifs seem to be used now in some of the coloring books for grown-ups that i've seen. Very intricate.

    When i was taking ballet (a long, long time ago), i learned a ballet position called the arabesque.

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    1. I know of the arabesque position in ballet, wonder why/how it got called that name?

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  7. Whoa the motifs are unique and so well detailled out. I loving the art side of your posts every day Nilanjana. This culture is fascinating - thank you for sharing!
    Cheers

    ​Vanillabeans & Peppercorns

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    1. Yeah, they are unique and beautiful, and not just the ancient ones, the contemporary take on them is also quite unique and lovely. Thanks for visiting.

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  8. Hi Nila - what a lovely selection of 'V's for us even if there is no V in the language. Extraordinary designs and I know the Arabic world fostered mathematics, study of the stars ... one day I'd like to learn more ... and I'll be back to re-read ... cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/v-is-for-vaynol-cattle.html

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    Replies
    1. Algebra and geometry were two of the areas where the Arabs mathematicians contributed majorly...a lot of other sciences too...and the arts leaves one speechless...

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  9. Sout al Horeya is one of my favourite Arab songs :D
    And yes... I'm surrounded with vegetal motives!
    -----
    Eva - Mail Adventures

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    1. :) being where you are, you would be surrounded by some of the best! vegetal designs..

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  10. Those vegetal designs are most beautiful. And yes, on photo frames and coffee mugs! I can imagine a wall hanging of such gorgeous art. May the voices always be heard, in peaceful protest or in coming together in unity. Lovely post thank you!

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    1. They look lovely as wall art...I've seen commercially produced posters which are basically blown up versions of the stuccowork and tilework from the Alhambra - look gorgeous.

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  11. Fascinating facts and narrative , as always. Love the intricate beauty of vegetal motifs, especially on the gramophone.
    Best wishes,
    Moon
    https://aslifehappens60.wordpress.com

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    1. Ditto me, very graceful the vine motifs.

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  12. Wow another new fact.
    Is there a replacement for V?
    And lovely pictures. I totally adore the pictures in your posts.

    A Peice Of My Life

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    1. Arabic has w, and y, no v. Other languages based on the Arabic script use a modified version of another letter to create a substitute, not just for v but also others like p and ch.

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  13. This was really interesting - I didn't realize that there was no Arabic "V" or that other designs were used to depict what wasn't permitted. The designs were really beautiful.
    Leanne | cresting the hill

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    1. Indeed, Islamic motifs and art generally is very distinctive and beautiful

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  14. wow 'city band' sure has some interesting facial paint. you've done such a great job with this series!!

    Joy @ the joyous living

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    1. Interesting how they put it together too. Thanks.

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  15. Those vegetal designs really are something. It's one of the beautiful things about art, how it can mold itself around restrictions and taboos to create something unique.

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    1. Yup, no-one does unique quite like the Arabs.

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  16. I love the look of that gramophone horn! Very cool!

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    1. Loads of stuff at that metal workers' lane of equally cool designs...very tempting :)

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  17. I think you deserve extra points today for a
    V entry in a language where none exists. I'm fascinated by the vegetal designs - and I'm adding this topic as yet another one you've introduced me to that I want to spend more time researching and exploring. Thank you! And the voices of the Arab Spring are gifts to be celebrated as well.


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    1. Thank you. Contemporary takes on these designs are also fascinating, very crisped up and edgy yet still underpinned by tradition.

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  18. Your post has Verve despite no official V
    I really like the Vegetal design motifs.

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  19. Love the artwork, so elaborate.

    http://www.tamaranarayan.com/2017/04/v-is-for-vaxxed-movie.html

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  20. Thanks! Now I understand why so much art has plant life in it.

    Emily | My Life In Ecuador | Vegetable Ivory - Tagua

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    1. :) yup, without plant life no life and no art is possible

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  21. That first video's graphics are stunning. Maybe that's not the right word. The other two bring back that spring.

    Finding Eliza

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    1. Completely agree with you re the CB video! The other two as well.

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  22. So clever, those intricate patterns, from a mathematical point of view. Amazing stuff.

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  23. The vegetal designs were fantastic. The richness of Arab culture had not only been neglected but had been unfairly shoved to the background. Thanks for sharing Nilan!

    Hank

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  24. Those designs are amazing! I'm kind of glad for the law that "forced" people to get more creative. You're right about the math, it must have joined in with the art. Incredible stuff.

    J -- Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference and Speculative Fiction Writer
    http://jlennidornerblog.what-are-they.com

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