Tahteeb, the ancient art of stick dance; Mermah, an authentic Egyptian equestrian sport, and more of the daily rituals of the west bank of Luxor were vividly displayed in Alaa Awad’s fifth exhibition, ‘Sons of the Mountains’, in SAMAH’s art gallery in Zamalek.
An artist and professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Luxor University, Alaa Awad has always been inspired by ancient Egyptian heritage. Particularly the murals of war and peace in ancient Egyptian arts, which have a direct impact on his artwork.
However, in this exhibition, the artist draws on the intangible heritage that is still practiced in the daily rituals of modern-day people of Luxor’s west bank.
“In this exhibition I wanted to work on the contemporary ife style of Luxor and all the intangible heritage it still reflects. I worked on mermah, the local camel and cow markets, the boats, the people; the idea was to paint Luxor as a whole. You see all these people play different roles in the same society. The women models are the daughters of the male ones; they are the same people who organise and practice Tahteeb and Mermah and they are all the Sons of the Mountain,” he explained to Ahram Online.
Awad’s pallet leans towards earthly colours, which is a true reflection of the west bank of the Nile in Luxor. Containing one third of the world’s antiquities, the riches of the city of Luxor include thousands of years of intangible heritage that is spontaneously passed on from one generation to the other.
From sun-baked bread to traditional costumes, all these elements connect the modern-day people of Luxor to their ancient ancestors.
Through the strokes, the movement, and the postures depicted in his artwork, Awad has a keen eye for details and an infatuation with the ancient Egyptian style of painting, managing to highlight the connection between the contemporary people of Luxor and their counterparts, who are captured on the walls of the temples.
Alaa Awad An artist and professor at the faculty of Fine Arts Luxor.
“This is only the beginning of a series of art documentations of intangible heritage before it changes or disappears. You see, last year, there was no mermah or Tahteeb tournaments because of COVID. This year too [won’t have any], and who knows when it [will be] practiced again, Egypt is joyful and beautiful, and I aim to document it’s intangible heritage.” he concluded.