Bonaparte’s secretary naively complained how the hopes of the French invasion were shattered by the reality of the situation in Egypt. He clearly expected that the invaded would regard the French as liberators instead of attackers.
The same image can be valued differently over time and in different cultures. Take, for example, the long journey in time and space of images and hieroglyphic writing that cover the surfaces of the coffins of mummies from Egypt. In their own period, several thousand years ago, the presence of the images and writing were an essential element in the ritual of death and burial of an important... Read More »
The photograph at the top shows two children gazing into the soft light of a fanoos [fan-NOOS], or traditional Ramadan lantern. In the photograph below, Ramadan lanterns are hung outside a shop in a section of medieval Cairo. As far as is known, the tradition originated in Egypt, perhaps as long ago as pharaonic times, when it may have announced the Nile flood. The tradition in its current... Read More »
One of the very first slave narratives, The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797), served as a prototype for the well-known slave autobiographies of the 19th century written by such fugitive slaves as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs. First published in 1772, the volume recounts Equiano's kidnapping in Africa at the age of 10 or 11, and how he was subsequently shipped to... Read More »
This girl is from a village in the Mossi country of Burkina Faso (a landlocked country in West Africa). The doll she is holding is a traditional wooden figurine made from one piece of wood standing on a broader base. The doll displays the characteristics of an adult woman, with suggestions of facial features and elaborate hairstyles, and usually with mature female breasts that represent the... Read More »
The anecdote is a lesson to a child who is probably at the adolescent stage of life, and very concerned with how peers and others view him. The experience of the father and son pair shows the futility of trying to act on fickle public opinion. It also plays upon ambiguities in the relationship of care and respect between parent and child at the stage of adolescence, when the parent is aging... Read More »