Just today we received the great news that our dear friend and colleague, Dr. Artur Obluski from Warsaw, affiliated with the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, launched a long-awaited web page titled http://www.nubianmonasteries.pl/

artur obluski @ ghazali church

The importance of the exploit in the frame of Nubian Studies is major. We will follow it closely and comment regularly on its form and content.

But go on, take a look at what Artur and his colleagues produced! And come back and check out with us what a wonderful tool he provided to the Medieval Sai Project also, a tool with which we can discourse about important academic issues and their promotion online, adding as we go fine shots of Nubia’s past and present (and future?).

ghazali monastery

By the way, the photos from Ghazali that http://www.nubianmonasteries.pl/ offers us are simply wonderful!

Lent lectures

One of the main reasons for our visit to Greece this time of the year had to do with the lecture that Alexandros is giving the coming Thursday at the Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens.

xian nubia @ bxm

But there are of course further interesting academic venues taking place in Athens these days. One set of spring lectures is organized by the Norwegian Institute at Athens. Here follows the program:

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Also outside Athens, there are things happening that we’d like to make a reference to.

Again from the Norwegian Institute at Athens, a conference on Naxos during the weekend of Palm Sunday (perhaps an excellent opportunity for a spring break for those in Greece?):

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A bit later in April, Claude Iverné is presenting in France “A particular history of photography in Sudan”


Already today, and as we write these lines, our friend Flora Vafea is giving a talk at Bibliotheca Alexandrina with the title “Greek Astronomers from Helenistic to Early Byzantine Alexandria”.


Finally, Alexandros will travel in the end of March to Komotini to give a talk at the University of Thrace about “Greek Texts from Medieval Nubia”. More from this event in due time…

Two days after Irini’s return to Greece, it was the entire Hafsaas-Tsakos clan that had to get prepared for a trip to fatherland Hellas.

Before moving ahead with reports from Attica, where we will be based for six weeks, we wanted to share with you two things:

First, three photos from Bergen made by Irini during her walks in the historical center of Bergen last week and retouched by her husband, Miltos Pantelias, whose art we would also love to present in Norway at some point in the future – insha Allah…

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And second, the URL to an interview that Alexandros gave (in Norwegian) to u-dann.net a couple of weeks ago: http://u-dan.net/udannet/2014/3/18/en-oy-i-nilen-gjest-alexandros-tsakos

Takk takk Knut Melvær!

Early this morning, Irini Gonou departed from Bergen. With her, the sun that brightened the three days of her stay hid behind clouds that brought back the normal for the city rain…but it did not last long and the night sky as I write this blog is clear with a beautiful half moon!

And there are also such fine tokens of Irini’s passing from our world here in Bergen. Friends who participated in the seminar of caligraphy shared their achievements through facebook, I am choosing of course our blog.

The first writing with water on ink is a magical square that crowned our apotropaic experience of Monday.

magic square

The second is my playful mood with Qalam al Khat after two days of work:


And the third one is the honorable moment where I filled in ustaza Irini’s monogrammatic rendering of Mim, over and between Kha and Ta, with the rest of the letters. No doubt the finishing touches were hers!


These three calligraphic writings presented – and innumerable other attempts mostly unpresentable (lol!) -were made in the script known as “Naskh“.

Our friend and colleague Anne kept the ink that Irini made in the first day of the seminar and we hope that we can continue learning even with our ustaza absent, provided that some other knowledgeable person can be found in Bergen. Any tips?

Once again, alf shukran ya ustaza Irini!!

The preparations for Irini’s exhibition went well and as soon as the apotropaic clothes constituting her artistic viewpoint on the magic functions of the Arabic script were hung from the ceiling of the Bergen Resource Center for International Development, the sun rays filled  the exhibition space with light…

almost ready

…the visitors gathered around her and heard with interest her way of explaining how she works with such mystical powers like the shapes of the letters, the meaning of the words, the power of the poetic speech…

opening speech

…and a few of us, eager to go deeper into the world of scribal art, followed Irini’s seminar of Arabic calligraphy…

at the seminar

…can’t wait to see the space again tomorrow and advance in the paths of calligraphic empowerment of the written word and its scribe…

On Monday, Irini Gonou (known to our readers from HERE) is coming to Bergen invited by the Organization for Greek-Norwegian cooperation in the fields of culture and humanities and the Center for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at the University of Bergen. The collaboration is based on an idea of Alexandros that Irini would be the most appropriate opening for the mobility programme Aurora that will bring in 2014 the University of Paris and the University of Bergen closer over the topic of the African Archive: its content, context and connections. Because Irini will bring with her to Bergen the great work she is doing on the use of the Arabic (but not only) script for apotropaic and prophylactic purposes. She will be hosted at the Resource Center for International Development for three days and in the frame of her visit she will also offer to all interested participants a seminary on Arabic calligraphy that has already been very successfully hosted three times at the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art in Athens under the title “Writings of the Mediterranean”.


More from the opening and the seminar next week!

Looking forward to welcoming many friends, colleagues and amateurs of art and scripture at the opening after tomorrow!

Ahlan oua sahlan!


Back to Khartoum…

Do you want ideas for cultural venues when you are there and you crave for quality time? Or do you simply want to remain updated when abroad? In either case, khARToum is the answer. The blog of Rashid Diab Arts’ Centre. Their post from Wednesday announced an exhibition of amateur photographers that opened tonight and will last until Monday.

Amateur Photographers' Exhibition

This made me wonder which picture I would send for such an exhibition…and I think I found it (although perhaps the choice is again too personal based on the anniversary we are celebrating at home today!):



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