Art Alert: Lecture on the Egyptian Zar Ritual at Cairo's Netherlands Institute

Ahram Online , Monday 21 Nov 2016

The lecture will be look at how Egyptian Zar has been re-contextualized in today's world

Mazaher Ensemble (Photo: part of Facebook promotional material for Mazaher's performance at Makan)

Séverine Gabry-Thienpont will present a lecture titled The Egyptian Zār Ritual on the Globalized Stage at the Netherlands Flemish on 1 December.

The lecture will discuss the ways in which Zar ritual and performance songs have been re-contextualized, and have developed stylistically by existing in an urban space.

According to the event description, Zar is a possession ritual that originated in Ethiopia, has been performed in Egypt dating back to the 19th century, and is now marginalized.

“This ritual can't be executed without the musical repertoires exclusively devoted to it. These repertoires allow followers to get through a therapeutic trance: without this music, the trance, which stands for the effectiveness of the union between the follower and the spirit, is impossible,” NVIC’s description states.

In Egypt two cultural centres have been striving to preserve Zar since the early 2000s, The Egyptian Center for Culture and Arts - Makan and El Mastaba Center For Egyptian Folk Music.

These centers see Zar as part of Egyptian heritage, and strive to continue presenting it to audiences and to give it new channels to be visible.

Gabry-Thienpont is an ethnomusicologist, writer, researcher, and scientific member at the Coptic and Arabic Studies section of Institut français d’archéologie orientale (IFAO), where she is leading a scientific program focusing on Egyptian popular piety since the 19th century.

In 2013 she completed a PhD in Ethnomusicology from the Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense. Her dissertation was on the ‘'Anthropology of Coptic Music in Contemporary Egypt'.

Gabry-Thienpont is the recipient of the Michel Seurat Prize (CNRS) in 2010 for her fieldwork in Egypt.

1 December, at 6pm
NVIC, Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo, 1 Mahmoud Azmi St., Zamalek, Cairo

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