The origins of the Monastery of Saint Catherine at the foot of Mount Sinai date to A.D. 324, when a community of monks requested Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, to build a chapel on the spot where they believed the Burning Bush had stood. Two centuries later, Emperor Justinian had the building enlarged and massive walls built, and thus the Monastery remained for centuries—an oasis of peace, shrouded in mystery and sacredness. Not even the Crusades left a trace of their passing, except for some graffiti carved in the refectory. Today St. Catherine’s has become a place of pilgrimage and international tourism. Visitors are attracted by the route—which crosses the colorful Sinai Desert to reach Jebel Musa, the Mount Sinai of the Old Testament—and, above all, by the charm of the monastery itself, rich in artistic and historical treasures and deep in serenity. This book takes the reader inside one of the most important places in the Christian landscape, through stunning pictures taken by renowned photographers. The text gives an account of the history of the holy site, as well as of recent investigations and discoveries. The exceptional quality of the illustrations and text make this very affordable book a worthy tribute to one of the Christian world’s most famous monasteries.
The Treasures of the Monastery of Saint Catherine
Photographs byAraldo De Luca
With a foreword byArchbishop Damianos of Sinai
Over 200 color photographs
For sale only in the Middle East
History and Cultural Identity: Revised and Updated Edition
History and Cultural Identity: Revised and Updated EditionViola Shafik
Since it was first published in 1998, Viola Shafik’s Arab Cinema: History and Cultural Identity has become an indispensable work for scholars of film and the contemporary Middle East. Combining detailed narrative history—economic, ideological, and aesthetic—with thought-provoking analysis, Arab Cinema provides a comprehensive overview of cinema in the Arab world, tracing the industry’s development from colonial times to the present. It analyzes the ambiguous relationship with commercial western cinema, and the effect of Egyptian market dominance in the region. Tracing the influence on the medium of local and regional art forms and modes of thought, both classical and popular, Shafik shows how indigenous and external factors combine in a dynamic process of “cultural repackaging.” Now updated to reflect cultural shifts in the last two decades, this revised edition contains a new afterword highlighting the latest developments in popular and in art-house filmmaking, with a special focus on Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, and the Gulf States. While exploring problematic issues such as European co-production for Arab art films, including their relation to cultural identity and their reception in the region and abroad, this new edition introduces readers to some of the most compelling cinematic works of the last decades....read more
5 January 2017
50 b/w illus.
Early Persian Painting
Kalila and Dimna Manuscripts of the Late 14th Century
Kalila and Dimna Manuscripts of the Late 14th CenturyBernard O’Kane
Kalila wa Dimna (or The Fables of Bidpai) is one of the gems of world culture, having been translated through the centuries everywhere from China to Spain. The stories of Kalila wa Dimna, like the Fables of Aesop or Lafontaine, are subtle and suggestive moral tales—a kind of repository of wisdom and understanding about the human condition. It was the most commonly illustrated medieval Islamic text. This book focuses on the group of seven Persian manuscripts from the second half of the fourteenth century, which contain several of the finest masterpieces of Persian painting. It is a work of enormous erudition and scholarly importance, a huge contribution for art historians and students interested in Persian painting and early Islamic art. In a world now besotted with images, these superb early paintings can give us a glimpse of the power and delight that they must have given their original viewers, and help explain the work’s attractiveness throughout the ages. “These pages will remain forever as a basic tool for all further work on this particular text and as a model for the study of illustrated manuscripts in general”—Oleg Grabar, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton...read more
50 b/w, 91 color illus.
Architecture for the Poor
An Experiment in Rural Egypt
An Experiment in Rural EgyptHassan Fathy
In this now classic work, Hassan Fathy, Egypt’s greatest twentieth-century architect, describes in detail his plan for building the village of New Gourna on the west bank of the Nile at Luxor, employing both the traditional building material, mud brick, and such traditional Egyptian architectural features as enclosed courtyards and domed and vaulted roofing. Fathy worked closely with the people to tailor his designs to their needs; he taught them how to work with the mud bricks, supervised the erection of the buildings, and encouraged the revival of ancient techniques, such as the use of claustra (mud-brick latticework) to adorn the buildings. Although bureaucratic red tape and other problems prevented the completion of New Gourna, Fathy’s ideas have since commanded widespread attention both inside and outside Egypt, and Architecture for the Poor remains a testament to his vision as an architect of conscience. “Fathy demonstrates very powerfully that it is possible to build for the poor … cheaply and humanly by the use of earth for building and by teaching people to build for themselves. There is no other book quite like this.” —Choice...read more
132 b/w illus.
Film in the Middle East and North Africa
Edited by Josef Gugler
Creative DissidenceEdited by Josef Gugler
Nine essays presenting the major national cinemas, from Iran to Morocco, are complemented by in-depth discussions of eighteen films that have been selected for both their excellence and their critical engagement with pressing current issues. The introduction provides a comprehensive overview of filmmaking throughout the region, including important films produced outside the national cinemas. The long history of Iranian cinema, its international renown, and the politics of directors confronting the state, earns it a special place in this volume. The other major emphasis is on the Israel/Palestine conflict, featuring films by Palestinian directors, Israelis, and an Egyptian working in Syria. Twenty contributors, from film and literary scholars to film directors and a novelist, bring to this unique volume differences in disciplinary orientation and variation in the perspectives that inform their writing. Together they offer an illuminating range of approaches to the cinemas of the region....read more
55 b/w illus.