New exhibition at the Aga Khan Museum

The Aga Khan Museum is currently having an exhibition called “The World of the Fatimids”. Running from March 10th to July 2nd.

One of the highlight pieces is this horn-
This horn is elephant ivory, carved in the 11th to 12th centuries in Fatimid ruled Sicily. It is carved with hunting scenes of mythical and real animals, which reflected the horn being used is hunting.The silver was later added in England during the 17th century. More information is available at the Aga Khan Museum website.

A Night in Palermo- event

The Guilds of Middle Eastern Dancing and Cookery in these Baronies of Stormhold & Krae Glas invite one and all to
“An Night in Palermo”
Before the armies are sent off on Crusade, there will be an evening of frivolity and competition, to appease the Norman Court of Sicily. Dishes reflecting the best of the different peoples of Sicily is to be presented, to be judged on authenticity, presentation, execution, documentation and complexity. The Greeks, Arabs, Italians and Normans can thus enjoy a friendlier rivalry (for the time being)! Please email the Steward to book and advise if entering the competition.

Members $11.00, Non-members $16.50, children $5.50. Please email Miriam Staples on to book and advise if entering the competition. This is a potluck feast, so please bring a plate.The event will be at the Chandler Room, Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre, 157 Union Road, Surrey Hills VIC 3127, Melbourne Australia from 5pm.

Please be aware that if you have said you will be attending on FB ( it is not considered a booking! I do need all your membership details.

I am the steward of the event. The prizes are already chosen and are just waiting to be won!

There are a few resources on-line to help in the competition. There is Master Cariadoc of the Bow’s works, many links through this site and a translated Annals of the Caliphs’ Kitchens, a tenth century Baghdadi cookbook. I look forward to catching up with everyone at the feast!

Ivory dancers with accompanying musicians

I found this picture on but it unfortunately doesn’t have much information as where the object is, let alone a good picture. It is on the cover of a book called Women and the Fatimids in the World of Islam by Delia Cortese and Simonetta Calderini. I will be borrowing  the book as soon as I can, as it is available in a University library I have access to. However, I have found a similar picture in a JStor article helpfully put up on Scribd.

This gives the information that the item is in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello. It is quite likely both pieces are in the same museum and while the Bargello has a good site, there are very little pictures. Hopefully more will go up soon. The article on Scribd is called Music and Musicians in Islamic Art by Walter Denny. It can be read on Scribd or downloaded from JStor. If you have any information or even better pictures, please let me know.
The Human Figure in Early Islmaic Art by Eva Baer. Via Google Docs.
Five Essays on Islamic Art by Terry Allen.
A Study on Islamic Human Figure Representation in Light of a Dancing Scene by Hanaa M. Adly. Via Google Docs.

A Sicilian dancer

This very small picture is on the ceiling of the Cappella Palatina. It was a palace originally built for the emirs, but had been abandoned. After the Norman invasion, it was rebuilt by Roger the II, who was crowned King of Sicily there.

Unfortunately I could not find a better picture of the dancer. If you have one, please let me know. Taken from the site Dancing in Art by Betty Eyer.

Norman-Arab-Byzantine Culture in Wikipedia.
Cappella Palatina, Palermo in Sacred Destinations.
Sicilia Da Sola: Day 3 in Finding Sicily.
The Paintings of the Aisle-Ceilings of the Cappella Palatina, Palermo by Lev Kapitaikin. Via Google Docs.

Medieval Sicilian music

Sicily had been invaded by Muslims in the year 965. The reign lasted until Norman Crusaders invaded. Then the Kingdom of Sicily was created and became a place of convivencia (which was a level of tolerance shown in more than the Andalus).

Here is a Youtube clip from a group called Al Qantarah.

The name of the band translates as “the bridge”. They perform the music with period instruments.

The music is available as MP3 download only through Amazon here.

Another article about Muslim Sicily is in Saudi Aramco World– Muslim Sicily by Gian Luigi Scarfiotti and Paul Lunde.