8th Edition of Montreal Orientalys Festival (August 2-5, 2018)

The programme of the 8th edition of Montreal Orientalys Festival was just announced and is now available on their website:

For the past seven years, Orientalys has aimed at providing a platform to showcase North African, Middle Eastern, and South East Asian cultures and traditions in Quebec. The festival will take place in the Old Port of Montreal on Thursday August 2 from 6 to 11 p.m.,Friday  August 3 from 3 to 11 p.m.,Saturday  August 4 from 12 to 11 p.m.,Sunday  August 5 from 12 to 11 p.m.

The programme includes dancing performances and concerts, as well as a wide variety of interactive activities for children and/or adults (such as cooking and handicraft workshops). Orientalys is free and open to everyone.

For more information see: 

A Piece of Heart and a Piece of Art: Damascus Room

Damascus Room, Syria, Damascus, 1766-67/ AH 1180, Wood (poplar) with gesso relief, copper and tin leaf, glazes and paint, plaster with stone paste inlays, and multicolored stones; installation (approx) 240 x 180 x 144 in.© Museum Associates/LACMA

The story began in the fall and early winter of 2011-12, when Linda Komaroff, Curator and Department Head at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), decided to pursue an acquisition of a period room from eighteenth-century Damascus, Syria. Komaroff is one of the people who makes LACMA a very unique institution. In Unframed post titled Preserving Small Piece of Damascus, Komaroff describes the new acquisition:

The Damascus Room came to signify more than the unique opportunity to acquire a rare work of art that would become a destination for museum visitors but the very embodiment of what LACMA is as an encyclopedic art museum. Although the room was removed from Syria nearly thirty-five years ago, the notion that we would be helping to preserve a small part of the cultural history of one of the world’s oldest, continuously occupied cities, intensified my interest in bringing the room to Los Angeles so that its story can be told and appreciated in this twenty-first-century city.

The room was dissembled in 1978 from one of the courtyard houses located in the al- Bahsa district, which was later demolished in order to accommodate the growth of the city of Damascus. The room was then exported from Syria to Beirut, Lebanon where it remained in storage for over 30 years. It somehow made its way to a London warehouse where it was found by Komaroff. Although the room was maintained in its original state, some restoration was required and an armature was created to make the room self-supporting so that it could be installed in an already-existing space or reinstalled elsewhere. Komaroff describes the Damascus Room thusly:

Damascus Room, Syria, Damascus, 1766-67/ AH 1180. © Museum Associates/LACMA

It has multicolored inlaid stone floors, painted wood walls, elaborate cupboard doors and storage niches, a spectacular arch with plaster voussoirs decorated with colored inlays that served to divide the room into upper and lower sections separated by a single tall step; and an intricately inlaid stone wall fountain with a carved and painted hood. The painted wood surfaces are embellished with a particular type of relief decoration known in Arabic as al-‘ajami (“meaning non-Arab or foreign”) or as pastiglia in the West.

The restoration work was undertaken in collaboration with Saudi Aramco’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture and with the support provided by the Friends of Heritage Preservation, LACMA. The reassembling of the Damascus Room was a two-year project completed in December 2015. The room was on display at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia from 2016–2018 and will be returned to Los Angeles to tell its story to a new audience.The reconstruction of the Damascus Room has been one of the Linda Komaroff’s curatorial career:

Being in the room is a joy; it exudes a kind of beauty, warmth and comfort, which is in keeping with its original function as a place for welcoming guests. But that joy is tempered by the sadness of the continuing deterioration of daily life in Syria, the diaspora of its citizens, and the destruction of its historic monuments. For now, the room must play one more role as a preserver of memories of Syria, as so beautifully expressed by the Syrian-American hip-hop artist and poet Omar Offendum, whose performance* was recorded in the room.

* Video attribution: www.lacma.org

New Exhibition: If Walls Could Speak: the History of Morrice Hall

If Morrice Hall’s walls could speak, you would hear the story of faculty and students of the Presbyterian College of Montreal, of wounded soldiers returning from war overseas, and of members of the International Labour Organization seeking a safe space to work during war-time.

Morrice Hall interior during International Labour Organization occupation (1940)

Today home to McGill’s Islamic Studies Library, the Institute of Islamic Studies, and the English department’s Tuesday Night Cafe Theatre, Morrice Hall was built in 1882, as a home for the Presbyterian College. Named in honour of David Morrice, then-Chairman of the College’s Board of Management and generous donator of $80,000, Morrice Hall was an extension to the original College building, itself built in 1873.

Drawing of Morrice Hall – Presbyterian College Journal, vol. 5, no. 3 (1885), p. 86

Presenting a mixture of photos, publications, plans, and maps spanning 135 years, If Walls Could Speak will take you through the major moments in the history of Morrice Hall: from its foundation, to expansion, to the interruptions of war, to the demolition of the original building and the renovations that created the space we know in 2018.

Curated by Islamic Studies Library’ staff -Ghazaleh Ghanavizchian, Jillian Mills, Anaïs Salamon-, this exhibit offers a unique experience making materials discoverable simultaneously in a physical display and on a touch table.

Touch Table Exhibit capture (2018) – credit: Greg Houston


Title: If walls could speak: the History of Morrice Hall
Dates: February 19, 2018-July 15, 2018, during opening hours
Location: Islamic Studies Library, 1st floor of Morrice Hall

Exhibition launch: Treasures from the McGill Ottoman Manuscripts Collection

Join us as we launch our exhibition Treasures from the McGill Ottoman Manuscripts Collection Thursday September 7th from 5 to 7 p.m.

Dr Aslıhan Gürbüzel, professor of Ottoman history at the McGill Institute of Islamic Studies, will talk about Ottoman Book Art and the display. The talk will be followed by refreshments served in the Octagon room.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

When :
Thursday September 7th, 5 p.m.
Where :
Islamic Studies Library
, 1st floor
3485, McTavish Street
Montreal, QC HA3 0E1
FB event :
https://www.facebook.com/events/265064857341848

Un livre, tant de communautés

La Bibliothèque d’Études Islamiques de McGill est heureuse de co-organiser un événement Un livre, tant de communautés (One Book, Many Communities) en français à la Bibliothèque des Lettres et Sciences Humaines (BLSH) de l’Université de Montréal le jeudi 13 avril 2017, à 17h00.

Rejoignez-nous pour discuter la nouvelle Retour à Haifa écrite par Ghassan Kanafani publiée dans le recueil intitulé Retour à Haifa et autres nouvelles. La discussion sera animé par la professeure Dyala Hamzah, (Histoire du Moyen-Orient, Département d’histoire de l’Université de Montréal).

La campagne de lecture Un livre, tant de communautés (One Book, Many Communities) a été initiée par Bibliothécaires et archivistes avec la Palestine (Librarians and Archivists with Palestine), un réseau de bibliothécaires, archivistes et professionnels de l’information solidaires avec la lutte des Palestiniens pour l’auto-détermination.

L’événement se tiendra dans la salle 3091 au 3e étage de la Bibliothèque des Lettres et Sciences Humaines:
Pavillon Samuel-Bronfman
3000, rue Jean-Brillant
Métro de Montréal Côte-des-Neiges ou Université de Montréal

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/175513959620166/

One Book, Many Communities: Returning to Haifa reading group

The Islamic Studies Library is pleased to host the One Book, Many Communities event again this year.

The novel to be discussed is a short volume entitled Returning to Haifa by Palestinian author, Ghassan Kanafani. The group discussion will be moderated by Professors Michelle Hartman (Arabic literature, Institute of Islamic Studies), and Laila Parsons (Middle East history, Department of History and Institute of Islamic Studies).

The One Book, Many Communities annual reading campaign is an initiative of Librarians and Archivists with Palestine. The project draws inspiration from the “one book, one town” idea, wherein people in local communities come together to read and discuss a common book.

Librarians and Archivists with Palestine is a network of self-defined librarians, archivists, and information workers in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for self-determination.

The event will take place in the Octagon Room at the Islamic Studies Library:
Morrice Hall
3485 McTavish Street
Montreal, Quebec H3A OE1
The space is wheelchair accessible via the campus door entrance. Accessible washrooms located in the basement.

Twitter: @iSL_Mcgill
Facebook event: bit.ly/onebookmanycommunities2017

 

Arab World Festival of Montreal 2016 – 17th edition

Looking for something to do this weekend, and in the coming days? Good News: the 17th edition of the Arab World Festival of Montreal starts tomorrow!

The Arab World Festival of Montreal (Festival du Monde Arabe de Montréal or FMA) is an event aiming at giving an opportunity to Arab and Western cultures to meet and exchange. The FMA proposes a myriad of events ranging from dance, music and theater productions to debates, conferences, lectures and films. Every year, the FMA invites artists, filmmakers and intellectuals from all cultural horizons, local and international broadcasters, and producers, in order to build a space dedicated to cultural exchange.

Check out the program, and enjoy!Festival du Monde Arabe 2016 - Homepage

 

New exhibition: illuminated Qur’ans from the McGill collections

MS RBD Arabic 29

MS RBD Arabic 29 – Rare Books and Special Collections

The Arabic writing used for setting down the sacred text of the Qur’an went under a diffusion corresponding to the expansion of the Islamic faith and to the development of the Islamic civilization. It belongs to the family of Semitic scripts, which are consonantal scripts vocalized by means of accents. The conditions of use and development of the Arabic writing were therefore determined by its association with the language it expressed. Although Arabic became a major academic and literary language, it experienced divergences of articulation and pronunciation in the colloquial use which affected the way in which it was written.

MS RBD Arabic 18 - Rare Books and Special Collections

MS RBD Arabic 18 – Rare Books and Special Collections

The archaic or primitive Arabic writing was used in Arabia at the beginning of Islam, from the Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime and during the caliphates of his immediate successors (632-660). From the very beginning, the Arabic script was associated with the religion of Islam, and became instrumental in the materialization and transmission of the divine message. In the 7th century, the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik imposed the use of Arabic to the central and provincial administration, and for the legends on coinage with calligraphic designs. This, in turn, led to two distinct paths in the development of the Arabic writing:

  • a utilitarian cursive script marked primarily by the requirements of legibility and speed, known as Naskh was used for state documents and correspondence
  • a dignified angular form purely aimed at the requirements of prestige, known as Kufic, was used for ornamental purposes (architecture and coinage) as well as for the copy of the divine message.
MS RBD Arabic 20 - Rare Books and Special Collections

MS RBD Arabic 20 – Rare Books and Special Collections

Until the 10th century, Qur’an were mainly written in Kufic script. This exhibition intends to show the influence of other scripts, such as Syriac, Turkish and Persian, on the Kufic calligraphic style, as well as a variety of styles and decorative techniques used in different periods of time and regions of the Muslim World.

The Qur’an exhibition was curated by Anaïs Salamon, Head Librarian, and Dr. Eliza Tasbihi, Senior Library Clerk at the Islamic Studies Library. It will be accessible in the Islamic Studies Library, Morrice Hall, 1st floor, during opening hours, from June 1st to December 31st, 2016.

New exhibition: Creative Dissent, 1-26 Feb. 2016

CREATIVE DISSENT: ARTS OF THE ARAB WORLD UPRISINGSCreativeDissent_Poster_smallExhibition:

February 1 – February 26, 2016

School of Architecture

Exhibition Room

McGill University
Macdonald-Harrington Building
815 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal

Opening Reception:

Tuesday, February 2, 2016, 5 pm – 6 pm

Curators:

Christiane Gruber, Associate Professor of Islamic Art and Visual Culture at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Nama Khalil. Artist and cultural anthropologist, Ph.D. Candidate,  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

The exhibit is a collaboration between the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and the Arab American National Museum, Dearborn. Support for the McGill University, School of Architecture installation is provided by the Yan P. Lin Centre’s Research Group on Democracy, Space, and Technology, the Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill Libraries, and Gilgamesh Society.

http://artsofthearabworlduprisings.com

Susan Sheikh and the Calligraphy Workshop: Pictures

Hi friends, on Wednesday the 28th day of July 2015 the ISL hosted a workshop led by Persian calligrapher, Susan Sheikh. 20 participants were fortunate to attend this workshop which was divided into 3 sections.

Susan_calligraphySusan led a short lecture on the history of calligraphy from it’s beginning through to the present. This was followed by a hands-on experience in which the participants were guided through the basic steps of writing nastaʿlīq and shikaste.Susan_calligraphy2 Finally, a question and answer period in which participants were free to ask any and all questions.

If you’re interested in learning more about calligraphy and, especially seeing some examples McGill has many exquisite calligraphic panels, manuscripts and related materials. Further information is provided on the Islamic Manuscripts subject guide.

Many thanks to everyone for attending and a special thanks to Susan Sheikh.

Photos courtesy of Sean E. Swanick, 2015.