Saudi monarchy destroys beautiful historic Yemeni homes


This video says about itself:

Old Sana’a, Yemen – Architecture

25 March 2008

The city of Sana’a is a living museum. Considered to be one of the oldest cities in the world (2,500+ years old), and Old Sana’a protected by UNESCO to prevent new buildings destroying the old, Sana’a is a place where you can spend hours, if not days, wandering the streets and feeling like you’ve stepped back in time. Life here has simply not changed enough to make you feel like it is the 21st century.

The most noticeable aspect of Old Sana’a is the architecture. The buildings are unlike anything else in the Western world, with brown exteriors with whitewashed details, stained glass, and no two buildings that look identical. Most of the buildings are tower houses, which are simply tall buildings with a central staircase that winds its way to the top. In ancient times, the bottom floor was reserved for the animals, while the upper floors were for the kitchen and families. In some cases, this still exists. To see detailed craftsmanship, look at the front doors of each building. Some are new, but many are old…very old, “modernized” by adding a padlock to them. With laws preventing the buildings from being destroyed, and from new buildings being built, the city is literally a living museum.

That was then. Now, however, the royal family of Saudi Arabia, staunch allies of the Pentagon, the CIA and David Cameron in Britain, have decided that their destruction of ancient Islamic buildings in Mecca for their new palace, in their own country, is not enough yet.

They have started destroying beautiful ancient buildings, and the people who live in them, in neighbouring countries.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Unesco furious about bombing of Sanaa

Today, 16:33

Unesco is furious about the bombing of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, early this morning. According to the UN agency “the magnificent complex of traditional houses in the al-Qasimi neighborhood” was destroyed. Houses and historic buildings were damaged and there were at least five deaths.

The Bulgarian UNESCO chief Irina Bokova was “deeply saddened” about the deaths and the damage that has been done. “I am shocked by the images of these magnificent tower houses with their beautiful gardens that now lie in ruins.” The decorated towers made of brick are world famous. They are an integral part of the Yemeni identity and national pride, says UNESCO.

Saudi Arabia

The bombings were carried out by the coalition led by Saudi Arabia. …

Witnesses say that aircraft of the coalition tried to bomb the home of a senior rebel leader and several houses were hit. The impact threatens to make more homes collapse.

This video, from today, is called Yemen: Saudi aircraft bombed the Old Sanaa. It says about itself (my translation from Arabic):

Homes in the historic city of Sanaa were destroyed by air raids by the Saudi aggressors, at dawn on Friday 12 June.

They launched aircraft attacks on the capital, targeting the city’s historic neighbourhoods and Marib Street and Faj Attan.

And the destruction on the first images showed that many historic houses in the old city of Sanaa were destroyed, falling on the heads of their inhabitants, in a new offensive by the Saudi air force against Yemenis.

This video is about an earlier bombing of ancient Sanaa. It says:

UNESCO condemns severe bombing damage to Sanaa old town

13 May 2015

The United Nations cultural agency condemned “severe damage” caused to heritage sites in Yemen, such as Sanaa’s old city, during intense bombing of the Yemeni capital.

UNESCO director general Irina Bokova said the bombing had caused severe damage to many historic buildings in the Yemeni capital, while the old city of Saada and the archaeological site of the pre-Islamic walled city of Baraqish, had also suffered damages.

Sanaa’s old city, situated in a mountain valley, has been inhabited for over 2,500 years and was a major center for the propagation of Islam, boasting over 100 mosques, and over 6,000 houses built before the 11th century. It was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1986.

English Derby Cathedral peregrine falcons’ first egg


This video from Britain is called Derby Cathedral, 3rd egg for the Peregrine Falcons. 02 04 2014.

From the Derby Telegraph in England:

Derby Cathedral’s famous falcons lay their first egg

By Caroline Jones

Posted: March 29, 2015

WEBCAM viewers have all over the world watched as Derby Cathedral’s famous peregrine falcons laid their first egg of the year.

It is the 10th year this pair of peregrines has nested on the 16th-century tower of the cathedral.

The egg was laid at 2.12pm today.

“The first egg this year is the 36th that the female has laid. We expect that she will lay a further three eggs to complete her clutch.”

He said: “Eggs are usually laid at about two day intervals and incubation, which will last 30-35 days, begins only when the clutch is complete.

Peregrines don’t breed until they are at least two or three years old, so our pair are now over 12 years old. They certainly make excellent parents.

“They begin courting in February each year with the first egg being laid either in late March or early April. The earliest egg was laid on March 23 2010, the latest on April 4 2013. This year she has laid on the same day as she did last year”.

The Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project is managed by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust in partnership with Derby Cathedral, Derby City Council (who host the web cams) and Cathedral Quarter.

Mongolian emperors and Chinese art history


This video says about itself:

Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, reading with text

9 February 2013

Kubla Khan (pron.: /ˌkʊblə ˈkɑːn/) is a poem written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, completed in 1797 and published in 1816. According to Coleridge‘s Preface to Kubla Khan, the poem was composed one night after he experienced an opium influenced dream after reading a work describing Xanadu, the summer palace of the Mongol ruler and Emperor of China Kublai Khan. Upon waking, he set about writing lines of poetry that came to him from the dream until he was interrupted by a person from Porlock. The poem could not be completed according to its original 200–300 line plan as the interruption caused him to forget the lines. He left it unpublished and kept it for private readings for his friends until 1816 when, on the prompting by George Gordon Byron, it was published.

Some of Coleridge’s contemporaries denounced the poem and questioned his story about its origin. It was not until years later that critics began to openly admire the poem. Most modern critics now view Kubla Khan as one of Coleridge’s three great poems, with The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Christabel. The poem is considered one of the most famous examples of Romanticism in English poetry. A copy of the manuscript is a permanent exhibit at the British Museum in London.

Apart from Coleridge’s poetic imagination, and descriptions by Marco Polo, there is more to say about Khubilai Khan and other Mongolian rulers of medieval China.

From the International Institute for Asian Studies in the Netherlands:

Khubilai Khan’s legacy: Inner Asian Influence on Chinese art

Date & time

19 February 2015, 14.30 – 16.30 hrs

Venue

Auditorium, Rijksmuseum
Museumstraat 1, Amsterdam

The programme

14.30 – 15.00 Reception with coffee & tea in the foyer at the Auditorium
15.00 – 15.10 Welcome & Introduction
15.10 – 16.00 Lecture by Professor Morris Rossabi
16.00 – 16.30 Q&A

The lecture

This slide-illustrated presentation challenges the conventional wisdom that portrays the thirteenth-century Mongolians as merely destroyers, killers, rapists, and plunderers. Although the lecture does not minimize the massacres and destruction wrought by the Mongolians, it also reveals their contributions to the arts and culture in China. Khubilai Khan, in particular, supported several of the most prominent Chinese painters, recruited Muslim weavers to add new motifs in Chinese textiles, appointed Mongolians to supervise the spectacular porcelain industry, and commissioned Tibetan and Nepalese painters and artisans to produce portraits of the Imperial family and to construct remarkable buildings in Dadu (or Beijing). Marco Polo, whose book introduced Khubilai to the West, was himself dazzled by the extraordinary art and culture he encountered in Mongol-ruled China.

To be sure, the Mongolians were not the artists and craftsmen, but they acted as sponsors, patrons, and consumers of the arts, thereby performing an invaluable service. Women, especially Khubilai’s wife and great granddaughter, were avid supporters of Chinese art.

The speaker

Morris Rossabi is a historian of China and Inner Asia who conducted his initial research on traditional Chinese foreign relations and on the peoples along China’s borders. He wrote a biography of Khubilai Khan, which has been translated in many languages, including Korean and Russian, and helped to organize exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. He was commissioned to write three chapters for the Cambridge History of China. After serving as a Consultant for the Soros Foundation, he wrote the book Modern Mongolia. The author of numerous articles and speeches, he travels repeatedly to Central Asia and Mongolia, where he teaches courses on Mongolian and East Asian history.

Registration

Entrance and registration are free of charge. Please register via: h.m.van.der.minne@iias.nl

Contact

For enquiries about the lecture, please contact Ms Heleen van der Minne: h.m.van.der.minne@iias.nl.

Unknown ancient Egyptian queen’s grave discovered


This video is called Top 10 Female Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt.

From the BBC:

5 January 2015 Last updated at 10:01 GMT

Queen Khentakawess III‘s tomb found in Egypt

Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed the tomb of a previously unknown queen, Egyptian officials say.

The tomb was found in Abu-Sir, south-west of Cairo, and is thought to belong to the wife or mother of Pharaoh Neferefre who ruled 4,500 years ago.

Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty said that her name, Khentakawess, had been found inscribed on a wall in the necropolis.

Mr Damaty added that this would make her Khentakawess III.

The tomb was discovered in Pharaoh Neferefre’s funeral complex.

Miroslav Barta, head of the Czech Institute of Egyptology mission which made the discovery, said that the location of the queen’s tomb made them believe that she was the wife of the pharaoh.

The Czech archaeologists also found about 30 utensils made of limestone and copper.

Mr Damaty explained that the discovery would “help us shed light on certain unknown aspects of the Fifth Dynasty, which along with the Fourth Dynasty, witnessed the construction of the first pyramids.”

Abu-Sir was used as an Old Kingdom cemetery for the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis.

See also here.

New Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, new film


This is a list of videos about the Dutch documentary film The New Rijksmuseum, by director Oeke Hoogendijk.

I saw this film on 27 December 2014.

It is about the well-known historical and visual arts museum in Amsterdam. Most of it was closed in 2003 for reconstruction. It was supposed to re-open in 2008. However, re-opening was delayed until 2013.

Here is the English language trailer of the film.

A review of the film is here. Another review is here.

The film records the long, difficult process of demolition of many of the old museum building structures, and of reconstruction, and of bringing back the art objects. Not all artifacts, as the museum’s collection has a million objects and not all of them can be on show.

People made new discoveries in the collection while the museum was closed. They found an antler of a moose (or elk, in British English) which so far had led an inconspicuous life on a museum depot shelf. It turned out to be about a thousand years old. It was from the chapel of Emperor Louis the Pious. Engravers had made it a beautiful visual art object.

Quite some time in the film is about a conflict between the Spanish architects of the museum reconstruction and local Amsterdam cyclists. Ever since the museum’s  original 1885 design, cyclists had been able to pass underneath it. That cycle track was and is public property, not museum property. The architects had difficulty in understanding how important that was for local people. Finally, the cyclists won on this. I think the film tends to be too unsympathetic to the cyclists’ legitimate issue.