This short note discusses some new archival information regarding the family of antiquities dealers of Armenian origin, father and son Nasri and Levon Ohan, who owned three shops in Jerusalem. They conducted business with archaeologists, took a part in the Dead Sea scrolls affair, were forced to escape, and were even robbed. In this story, the dramatic events of the twentieth-century past of the Holy City are closely intertwined with the archaeological research history and the destiny of one family.
Շարունակելով միջնադարագիտական ու հայագիտության տարբեր ոլորտների գրքերի հրատարակությունը, Մատենադարանը 2021 թ. հրատարակել է 16 նոր գիրք, որոնք ներկայացնում են միջնադարյան պատմության, ձեռագրագիտության, բանահյուսության, քաղաքաշինության, միջազգային հարաբերությունների, տնտեսության, տիեզերագիտության, բժշկագիտության կարևոր ու հետաքրքիր ուսումնասիրություններ: Հրատարակվել են նաև « Բանբեր Մատենադարանի » հանդեսի երկու նոր համարներ, որտեղ նույնպես կարելի է ընթերցել թվարկյալ ոլորտներին առնչվող ուշագրավ ուսումնասիրություններ: Գրքերի ու ամսագրերի թվային տարբերակները կարելի է ընթերցել www.matenadaran.am կայքի « Թվային գրադարան » բաժնում:
Despite the legal condemnation of mind-altering substances crystallized in formulas such as “everything that intoxicates is like ḫamr and ḫamr is illegal (ḥarām)”, intoxicants are largely represented in the Arabic literary corpus. Wine in particular is even the central topic of the ḫamriyya, a poetic genre describing the liquor and its effects that flourished in the early-Abbasid era. From the Mamlūk period (1250–1517) onward, other non-fermented stimulants based on hemp, banǧ, opium etc. were also included in the poetic imaginary, without nevertheless rising to the status of a literary genre. In other words, while intoxication (sukr) as a literary motif did not cross the boundaries of the moral and socially acceptable, its function as transition was instead meant in the fictional text to mark an emotional shift and negotiate between imagination and reality.
In this article, I propose to work on hashish intoxication as a liminal stage, where the boundaries between rational and irrational, pleasure and pain, conventional beauty and unattractiveness are often blurred. To do so, I will first briefly explore the centrality of the ʿaql in Muslim thought and how sukr not only was considered a threat to the normal functioning of the mind, but also a danger to the divine order. Subsequently, I will focus on hashish and how it challenged the traditional views on intoxication. The central part of the paper will approach hashish consumption as a literary motif. I will extract poems and anecdotes describing the ambiguous psycho-physical experience of hashish from the Rāḥat al-arwāḥ fī al-ḥašīš wa-l-rāḥ of al-Badrī (d. 894/1488), the most comprehensive anthology of texts on hashish within Arabic tradition.
Simultaneously addressing the (Native) American and Palestinian/Israeli context, Maḥmūd Darwīš’s poem Ḫuṭbat al-Hindī al-aḥmar – ma qabla al-aḫīra – amāma al-raǧul al-abyaḍ (The ‘Red Indian’s’ Penultimate Speech to the White Man), published in 1992 to critically commemorate the ‘discovery’ of ‘America’ by Columbus in 1492, is a deep reflection about the violence of borders and frontiers created by white European invaders. In my article, I aim to answer the question of how the poem’s manifold boundaries (between colonizer and colonized; nature and culture; equality and hierarchization; the living and the dead; identity and otherness) are addressed and re-framed. Although partly essentializing cultural difference by drawing from a romanticized image of the “noble savage” (the “Red Indian”), the poem nevertheless finds a voice to raise crucial questions regarding the self-perception of European/western modernity, anticipating the recently discovered fact that (white) human agency has pushed ‘progress’ so far as to enable humanity to destroy itself, nature, and earth. In intertextual dialogue with key texts of de/coloniality and western modernity, I attempt to show how the poem confronts us with fundamental questions about humanity in the face of self-destruction.
As an urban structure, Mecca is inscribed with several layers of meaning. It is the place where the Divine revelation of Islam took place; it is the setting of the life and preaching of the prophet Muhammad; and it is the location of the hajj, the annual pilgrimage, with its sacred and ritual sites. These complex domains of signification are related/separated by various kinds of boundaries, which are made even more intricate by the strict Wahhabi regime of religiosity and social segregation and Saudi policies of urban reconstruction. All these influences result in a fragmented spatial structure, and, concomitantly, in a fragmented social structure, which are both to some extent hidden in the folds of the urban landscape. In this contribution, the boundaries between the various domains will be discussed as they are portrayed, and contested, in the novel Ṭawq al-ḥamām (The Dove’s Necklace) by the Saudi author Raǧāʾ ʿĀlim. It will be explained how several characters are described as either upholding, breaking, preserving, and challenging the diverse boundaries vested in Mecca as a container of a profound religious heritage.