For over 200 years, Ancient Egypt has inspired the architecture of England. Now, The Quadriga Gallery’s latest exhibition traces the use of the Egyptian style from the sphinxes of 18th century gardens through to the papyrus bud columns of 20th century cinemas.
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|Subject of Research Material:|
|Name of Traveller:||J. G. Wilkinson|
|Alias:||Sir John Gardner Wilkinson|
|Birth / Death Dates:||1797-1875|
|Place Of Birth:||England|
|Places Of Travel:|
|Archival Material:||Departement des estampes et de la photographie, Bibliothèque nationale, rue de Richelieu, Paris.|
|Discoveries:||Wilkinson’s drawings and watercolours in the collection of Seymour de Ricci (WSA Vaux sale, Hodgson, 24 July 1924 n.661 (to Quaritch?), sold July 1931 to de Ricci.|
|Source Of Information:||Caroline Simpson. Bulletin No. 8, page 21.|
|Additional Information:||Caroline Simpson made an index of an early photographic collection and the reserve collection in the same Department.|
Researches and Reflections
The Tenth Biennial Conference
The Association for the Study of Travel in Egypt and the Near East
Aston University Birmingham
Friday 12 – Monday 15 July 2013
We invite papers for our next ASTENE conference which will continue to explore the impact of travellers, and the impact on travellers, to Egypt and the Near East, Turkey, the Ottoman Balkans and Greece, from the earliest times to the twentieth century.
Contributions are invited from a wide range of disciplines and interests. We welcome papers on individual travellers; scientific surveys; pilgrimage, the logistics of travel, the slave trade, artists, photographers and architects; diggers and dealers; government representatives and leisure travellers, authors and narratives, map-makers, guides and dragomen, naturalists, and more …
Please send an abstract of no more than 100 words for a paper of no more than 25 minutes to Patricia Usick at firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to Patricia Usick, 32 Carlton Hill, London, NW8 0JY by 1 February 2013.
Further information can be found in Call for papers pdf
Knowledge is Light: Travellers in the Near East, ed. Deborah Manley. Oxford and Oakville, ASTENE and Oxbow Books, paperback, 2011. 104pp.
ISBN 978-1-84217-448-7. £20.
As has been the case with the publication of previous papers from ASTENE conferences, the release of Knowledge is Light: Travellers in the Near East is a welcome moment for Association members and anyone interested in travellers in the region. The collection under review features nine papers delivered in Durham in 2009.
John Covel: a Levant Company Chaplain at Constantinople in the 1670s is a useful introduction to a man whose diaries Lucy Pollard rightly refers to as, “an extraordinary treasure-chest of evidence” of late Seventeenth century Asia Minor. Apart from their historical value, the human side of Covel’s diaries make them an entertaining read, from frustration over poor maps to the joys of scatological humour.
Depictions of Islam in Seventeenth-Century English Travel Accounts is an endlessly fascinating subject area, and this is an interesting survey. Through the use of numerous sources, Anders Ingrams has produced a short survey that not only highlights the points of commonality in anti-Islamic polemics but brings up the thoughts of those more independent travellers.
Peta Rée’s Saved by Pirates, which considers 16-months in the travels of Sir Richard Worsley, and Patricia Usick’s trawl through Willey Reveley’s account and drawings of the same journey makes for a wonderful pairing. Although not unique, having two detailed records of one journey, with Reveley employed as Worsley’s artist-in-motion, is a real treat.
James Rennell and his Scientific World of Observation is a welcome and lucid account of an all too often overlooked individual, and this paper is a treasure trove for researchers, not least because of its extensive bibliography. As Janet Starkey argues, Rennell is important for any number of reasons; his voluminous output should be first among these.
Death and Resurrection by Geoffrey Nash looks at Ernest Renan, in part through the lens of the death of his beloved sister and the impact this may have had on his writing, not least his controversial Life of Jesus.
Knowledge is Light concludes with John Chapman’s fascinating consideration of the penchant among many male travellers to Greece for dressing up in fustanella, that traditional Albanian costume most famous for its prominent skirts. Men in Skirts and How to Become Frank is valuable not just for highlighting the keenness for dressing up among western men, from Byron to Wilde, but also the political nature of the fustanella, and the move away from wearing it to the far less dashing, “Frankish” trousers.
The two essays that highlight the joy of ASTENE are A Journey Through the Holy Land, 1820, about the Reverend Robert Master and companions, by Deborah Manley, and Theodore Ralli’s Diary on his Travel to Mount Athos (1885), by Maria-Mirka Palioura. Both accounts deal with familiar places but, thanks to the researchers, this reviewer saw them through the eyes of previously unknown travellers, thus allowing one to see the familiar as though for the first time. There can be no better summary of ASTENE than Knowledge is Light.
From Cairo to Baghdad: British Travellers in Arabia, James Canton, London, I.B.Tauris, 2011, ISBN 978 1 84885 696 7
This is a provocative book to review. It extends its titular geographical remit – Arabia – to include not only the Arabian peninsula but also Egypt, Syria and Iraq – most of what nowadays is generally known as the Middle East. The time span is from 1882, when the British invaded Egypt on the pretext of solving Egyptian insolvency (reckoned to threaten that life-line to India, the Suez Canal), to 2003 and the US-British invasion of Iraq. In a crucial introduction the author, James Canton, explains the geographical span as held together by a common language and cultural coherence, although I would suggest that World War I initiated the demise of that coherent ‘Arab world’ (despite Gamal Abdul Nasser) and its replacement by the discrete identities of individual countries – Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Saudi etc.
The author outlines five central themes in his scheme: religion, the changing nature of Arabia, imperial wars, women travellers and finally the changing nature of travel writing after Britain’s imperial withdrawal. They are treated more or less chronologically. The last theme is by far the most interesting as including as an appendix long interviews with three protagonists – Colin Thubron, Tim Mackintosh-Smith and Jonathan Raban – whose comments on the whole business of travel writing, a publisher’s dream in the 1960s-1990s but now perhaps in abeyance, form a particularly relevant epitaph to the book.
Canton’s story relates only to the British and only to people on the move – i.e. travellers: hardly anybody is living or working there. This excludes virtually all well-travelled residents; his characters tend to be non-professional. It also excludes archaeologists. And there are of course no foreigners other than British. He divides the period into three: 1882-1917 (Baghdad and Jerusalem then under British control); 1917-1956 (Suez); 1956-2003. His travellers all write ‘travel texts’ rather than travelogues. Each chapter begins with a long excerpt from a relevant writer, some less well known than others which I rather like. Some chapters are more ‘Arabian’ than others: ‘Missionaries and Pilgrims’ for instance (though no mention of St Catherine’s despite Isabella Bird and the two sisters so well described by Janet Solstice), ‘the Empty Quarter’, ‘Southern Arabia’. Others in my opinion are decidedly not Arabian – ‘Baghdad and beyond’ (much of which is about the Marsh Arabs), ‘Modernising Arabia’ (car, train and plane but not in Arabia and not the Hijaz railway because not British); ‘After Empire’ includes William Dalrymple on his monastic travels, who never as far as I know went to ‘true’ Arabia. There’s a slight confusion over ‘empire’: with the exception of Aden (from 1937) none of Canton’s region was actually part of the British Empire. And there’s a certain prejudice against ‘upper class’ travellers, Etonians especially (i.e. Thesiger).
However, such idiosyncracies of time, place, and characters also make one usefully re-think the subconscious of Britain’s relationship with a region perhaps even more crucial today than in the 130 years described in this book.
The Sahara, a cultural history, Eamonn Gearon (Signal, 264pp, £12)
The Sahara is the largest and most important desert on our planet, with a greater surface area than the United States and a population hardly bigger than Brooklyn. It is also the most important desert for ASTENE members for no other wilderness has attracted so many extraordinary travellers.
The name is Arabic. Sahra is the generic word for all deserts. But this one, being the largest and most magnificent, is simply, diva-like, The Desert. It stretches, at its most generous description, from the banks of the Nile to the shores of the Atlantic, from the Mediterranean to the Niger River and the walls of the much looked-for Timbuktu. As with the continent in which it lies, the name does not serve well as a catch-all. The various people who live in and on the fringes of the Sahara do not recognize much common history or cause. As Gearon shows so eloquently, this has not stopped outsiders from grouping them together.
The pre-history of the desert serves as a model for the loss of Eden, lost not because of an apple but because of an ancient global warming. Once the bed of the great primordial ocean of Thetys, the receding waters left a rich, animal-packed savannah that, for a long time, was a happy hunting ground for homo sapiens. When rain became ever more scarce and the savannah dried up, it was the annual miracle of the Nile and Niger rivers, strips of water cutting through the rainless sands, that provided humans with a means of survival. In the north-west corner, in what is now Egypt, they took what the Greek historian Herodotus called ‘the gift of the Nile’ and learned to make the most of it, organizing themselves along the length of the lower river, dividing the land among themselves, ready for sowing and harvest. In the process, they advanced – and perhaps even created – civilization as we know it.
Gearon has an eye for the more colourful aspects of the early Sahara. He tracks the ‘whale fossils’ of Wadi al-Hitan in Egypt’s Western Desert, one of the stranger stories of the ancient ocean, a creature that came out of the waters, learned to walk on land and then decided to head back to the deep, their fossilized skeletons testimony to the fact that this was a terminal mistake in a warming world. He also charts the development and spread of extraordinary rock art across North Africa, recording a time when the desert was grazing land for elephants, giraffes and others animals.
The book is planned to follow a chronology, pre-history to ancient Egypt to the advent of Christianity, the coming of the Arabs and the spread of Islam, and then onto the riches of the medieval Sahara, the time of writers such as Ibn Khaldun and the Tangerine Ibn Battuta. This is one of the desert’s most interesting periods, when Timbuktu became a centre of learning, when the great Hajj caravans crossed the desert each year bringing treasures such as ivory and spices, and gold to the markets of Cairo. Most famous of these was the caravan of 1324 when the Malian King Musa I was among the faithful and brought so much gold to Cairo that the price was depressed for up to a generation. And then come the European travellers.
Gearon’s style is anecdotal. His stories follow one another at times without apparent thread, making some chapters more sourcebook than narrative – a valuable sourcebook, given the extent of Gearon’s knowledge. The stories of the early European desert travellers, the likes of Frederick Hornemann and Heinrich Bath, flow more freely. But this reader found them overly condensed and, as with some of the chapters on European writers and artists, was left longing for more analysis of why they were there and what the desert inspired in them. Another book perhaps. For now we have this one, a useful overview of the history of a wilderness.
Bradt Travel Guides Ltd and The Globe Pequot Press Inc, February 2011, Paperback 400 pp., £16.66. ISBN-13: 978 I 84162 339 9
What is so striking about Eastern Turkey is the familiarity of the place names. Biblical stories; history lessons; even Arabic poetry if you have read it, resonate with these names. The sad thing is that one never knew more than the name and little of the place itself. This guide will rapidly fill those gaps. After all the basic practical information has been covered in the two opening chapters, including the useful tips which can only be provided by a writer who really knows the subject, the guide is divided into 10 geographic sub-sections. Of these Cappadocia, with its amazing conical churches and dwellings, and Konya with its heritage of whirling dervish spectacle deriving from the Sufi practices of the followers of Jalal ad-Din Rumi, are included in many modern itineraries. Russell and I have visited both places and have many friends who have done the same. But I have never met anyone who has visited the UNESCO-designated Grand Mosque and hospital at Divriği, though readers of Cornucopia magazine will have seen the 26 page spread of beautiful photos and description of Divriği in issue 43 (2010).
Each of the 10 regional chapters has its own mini Practical Information section on when to visit; getting there and away; hotels; restaurants; shopping and internet cafés (occasionally) and museums/sights. In countries covered by travel guides such as the Bradt series the political situation can intervene suddenly to make travel, even for the adventurous, inadvisable. This has doubtless already happened to the North Africa and Syria Bradt editions (the latter also written by Diana Darke and reviewed in Astene Bulletin 34, Winter 2007) and there will certainly be some additional nervousness about South Eastern Turkey with the recent influx of refugees from Syria. But this should not deter travellers from visiting the Black Sea coast, or the central plateau and even Mount Ararat. For all these this Bradt Guide will be indispensable.
I drove through Eastern Turkey in 1965 with my father and sister en route to Iran. As Diana Darke indicates in her introduction to this Bradt guide, it is typical of this part of Turkey that we did not think to stop and visit the many wonders en route, even though we stayed in Ankara, Sivas and Erzurum. Two years later I took the train to Erzurum with two school friends and then the bus to Tabriz, and back a few weeks later via the same route. From that experience, albeit limited, I would agree with Darke’s assessment that travel in Eastern Turkey is generally safe and the people friendly and solicitous.
I found the print of this guide rather small and faint but the relatively compact size makes the book a suitable weight for back-packers. There are two sections of good glossy colour photographs, but no other illustrations and though the town plans are clear, the regional maps tend to show only roads and not rivers and railways, so the book needs to be accompanied by a good map. For ASTENE readers the bibliography and website references will be of interest and also the separate index to the highlighted text sections, which are nuggets of detail and anecdote, plus the more personal observations of the author. The author’s knowledge of the history of the area, some based on 20th century archaeological activity, is extensive but she also covers dispassionately the political developments which have shaped modern Turkey. There are good descriptions of the various categories of architecture the traveller will encounter, civil (hammams, caravanserais), military (forts and citadels) and religious (mosques and churches). It is not surprising that it has taken the author 30 years to compile such a compendium of serendipitous information.
Eastern Turkey will not appeal to sunbathing, clubbing and beach devotees. But in issue 42 (2009) Cornucopia had a lavishly illustrated 50 page series of articles on Kars and Kaçkars (near Georgia) highlighting the appeal of the area for nature lovers and climbers, as indeed does the author of this book. Perhaps Eastern Turkey’s hour has come, particularly with the rest of the Eastern Mediterranean world in such turmoil. So Diana Darke’s book is very timely and will serve well those travellers who want to combine grandiose scenery with ancient and modern history and cultural insight.
Émile Prisse d’Avennes, ARAB ART, Arabische Kunst, L’Art arabe. Essay by Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom. Taschen, 2010. ISBN 978-3-8365-1983-0
L’Art arabe d’après les monuments du Kaire depuis le VIIe siècle jusqu’à la fin du XVIIIe by Émile Prisse d’Avennes, was published in four volumes by V.A. Morel in Paris between 1869 and 1877. Its 200 chromolithographs, depicting in extraordinary detail a large range of Islamic religious and domestic architecture and decoration, predominantly from Egypt, were a remarkable technical achievement. No less impressive were the 300 pages of text comprising a detailed chronicle of the geography, history and monuments of Egypt from the Arab conquest to the French invasion in 1798, as well as descriptions of the individual buildings and artefacts chosen for the plates, carefully classified to show the artistic development of each group. The publication seems to have been well received, notably at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1878, but does not appear to have achieved the success or widespread influence of Owen Jones’s earlier Grammar of Ornament, published in London in 1856. In recent times the decorative quality of the plates has prompted a revival of interest and, in addition to a facsimile edition of the entire work, published in Beirut in 1973, selections from it have been reprinted by publishers in Paris, London, Cairo and New York. This latest contribution is a splendid and well-produced volume, with high calibre colour reproductions of the complete plates of L’Art arabe, and extracts from the accompanying texts.
These plates and their explanations were based on Prisse’s extensive and thoroughgoing observations made during his many years of residence in Egypt. Between 1827 and 1844 he worked first for Muhammad Ali as an engineer and teacher, and then independently, exploring the country’s ancient monuments along the Nile as far as Nubia. Dressing and living as a Muslim, and having mastered both classical Arabic and the local dialects, he was well placed to study and understand Egyptian society. At the same time he knew and exchanged scholarly expertise with other long-term foreign residents, but only a few of these equalled his ability so effectively to cross the cultural boundaries between East and West. His friendship with the young Welsh scholar and traveller, George Lloyd, seems to have stimulated a more systematic study both of medieval Islamic art and architecture and of contemporary culture inEgypt, resulting eventually not only in L’Art arabe, but also in the less ambitious but equally significant volume, Oriental Album: characters, costumes and modes of life in the Valley of the Nile, published in London in 1848.
The plates, accompanied by extracts from the text written by James Augustus St John, are also reproduced in this Taschen publication, bringing together for the first time into one volume Prisse’s work both as an Arabist and as an ethnographer.
The plates in both volumes are the results of Prisse’s collaboration with other artists, a complex process that has not yet been fully disentangled. They reflect his considerable skills as a draughtsman, but also his reliance on early photographs of Egyptian monuments. When he returned to Egypt in 1858-60 for a second visit, Prisse brought with him not only the young Dutch artist, Willem de Famars Testas, but also a photographer, Edouard (baptised Anasthase) Jarrot. The work produced by all three men, as well as material from other sources, is contained in the extensive holdings of his papers at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and is currently undergoing research. The institution’s recent exhibition and accompanying book, Visions d’Égypte: Émile Prisse d’Avennes (1807-1879), highlighted not only the range of Prisse’s considerable achievements, but also the multiplicity of components from which his publications were derived.
Some of the context from which Prisse’s L’Art arabe and The Oriental Album evolved is outlined in the introductory essay by Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom, although little use seems to have been made of the BnF archive, admittedly not easily accessible, except on microfilm. Reference is made to his use of both Arabic and European sources for the text of L’Art arabe, but there is no mention of the work of the most authoritative French scholar of Egyptian history at the time, Jean-Joseph Marcel, for whose Égypte, published in 1848, Prisse co-wrote and illustrated the section, Sous la domination de Méhémet Aly. The plates in The Oriental Album may not convey the realities of poverty, disease and industry in contemporary Egypt, as the authors suggest, but some of the images are in fact the same as those published the previous year in Le Magasin Pittoresque, where Prisse’s accompanying text makes the harsh conditions of rural life quite clear. Sous la domination de Méhémet Aly is also very critical of the despotism of the reigning dynasty. Why Prisse’s British publisher, James Madden, chose to use text written by St John, rather than Prisse’s own, is a mystery not addressed by Blair and Bloom.
As well as these omissions, there are a few inaccuracies. While Girault de Prangey’s early daguerreotypes taken in Egypt during the 1840s were among the sources for L’Art arabe, Prisse did not own them; instead his publisher acquired the stones used for the lithographs in de Prangey’s Monuments arabes d’Égypte, de Syrie et d’Asie mineure (Paris, 1846), and re-used them. The date of the Sotheby’s sale after Prisse’s death was 1879 not 1878, and David Roberts was in Egypt, 1838-39 (not 1840).
In some instances, the plates are presented in a confusing order: Plate 25 is placed before 23, Plate 30 is after 31, Plate 48 after 49, etc. A further inconsistency relates to the identification of the monuments depicted by Prisse in L’Art arabe. While current nomenclature is given for several of the buildings and their decoration, shown in the plates, the authors do not say that the Dawud Pasha mosque (mentioned in the caption for Plate XLIII) is in fact Malika Safiyya, or that Qawam al-Din (Plates LXIII-LXVI) is now al-Sayfi Sarghatmish al-Nasiri, or that one of the panels from the latter, depicted by Prisse (Plate LXVI) is still in situ, while the other has been removed to the Islamic Art Museum in Cairo (inv. MIA 2785, see The treasures of Islamic art in the museums of Cairo, 2006, p.122), and is a rare piece, remarkable for its iconography.
This is a missed opportunity, for while the authors make interesting observations on several of the objects (on which they are recognised experts), details such as this on the buildings (by a specialist in the field of Cairene architecture), would have made this publication of infinitely more value to scholars of Islamic art. With such an investment in the quality of paper and reproduction, it seems a shame that this is not matched by the extra research required to compare Prisse’s plates to existing monuments, and to assess the changes that have taken place since he depicted them.
Briony Llewellyn and Mercedes Volait
Caroline Williams has provided the following addenda:-
The illustrations in this book are beautiful and valuable documents. They would have been more usefully served by informed annotations. To the list of inconsistencies in the Llewellyn/Volait review, I would add the following:
Plates XIX-XXII are listed as the Funerary Mosque of Qaytbay, but this listing is true only of Plate XIX. The other plates belong to the Madrasa-Mosque located near Ibn Tulun. Plate LXXXIX shows the minbar belonging also to this Mosque-Madrasa.
XXIV identified as Tomb and minarets in Turab al-Imam and minaret of Jami` al-Qalmi are in reality the minaret of al-Sultaniya, and the tomb of Amir Tankizbugha in the cemetery area much nearer to the Citadel than the tomb of Imam al-Shaf’i, and the Minaret of the Mosque of Qaragoga al-Hasani off Sharia Port Said.
XXV Minaret of Mosque of al-Nasriya, 15th century. This is a puzzling identification for its style and date.
XXVIII Tomb attributed to Mahmud Janum is today identified as Barsbay al-Bagasi, 1456.
XXX The text states Jami’ Sinaniya was “built near Damietta”. The mosque is in Bulaq.
LXVII gives confusing identifications for the mosque: Sisariya (English); Sidi-Sariya (German); Sysaryeh (French).
LXXXIII Maristan Hospital. Why not Hospital of Sultan Qalawun?
XCVI and XCVII have their texts reversed; and surely the door of Sidi Yusuf’s house is wood, not bronze.
Plate C For Sidi Yusuf Ilmaz the identification should read Amir Ulmas al-Hajib, 14th century.
Briony Llewellyn adds:-
The Prisse d’Avennes papers at the Bnf consist of 18 bound volumes of notes and drawings (including press cuttings, notes and pages taken from printed books, annotated print-outs of his publications, unpublished travel notes, working notes for his books, etc.), a notebook listing his drawings and photographs, and 1948 prints, drawings, photographs and 831 squeezes arranged in 22 boxes and 2 rolls. Call number: Nouvelles acquisitions françaises, 20416 to 20449.