Africa > North Africa > Egypt > Egypt Art / Culture Profile

Egypt: Egypt Art / Culture Profile

2012/03/09

Egypte - Le Caire - le Sphinx d'Aménophis III

 

Egyptian culture has thousand years of recorded history. Ancient Egypt was part the earliest civilizations and for millennia, Egypt maintained a strikingly complex and stable culture that influenced later cultures of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. After the Pharaonic era, Egypt itself came under the influence of Hellenism, Christianity, and Islamic culture. Today, a lot of aspects of Egypt's ancient culture exist in interaction with newer elements, including the influence of modern Western culture, itself with roots in ancient Egypt.

Egypt's capital city, Cairo, is Africa's major city and has been renowned for centuries as a center of learning, culture and commerce. Egypt has the highest number of Nobel Laureates in Africa and the Arab World. Some Egyptian born politicians were or are currently at the helm of major international organizations like Boutros Boutros-Ghali of the United Nations and Mohamed ElBaradei of the IAEA.

Renaissance

The work of early nineteenth-century scholar Rifa'a et-Tahtawi gave rise to the Egyptian Renaissance, marking the transition from Medieval to Early Modern Egypt. His work renewed interest in Egyptian antiquity and exposed Egyptian society to Enlightenment principles. Tahtawi co-founded with education reformer Ali Mubarak a native Egyptology school that looked for inspiration to medieval Egyptian scholars, such as Suyuti and Maqrizi, who themselves studied the history, language and antiquities of Egypt.Egypt's renaissance peaked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries through the work of people like Muhammad Abduh, Ahmed Lutfi el-Sayed, Tawfiq el-Hakim, Louis Awad, Qasim Amin, Salama Moussa, Taha Hussein and Mahmoud Mokhtar. They forged a liberal path for Egypt expressed as a commitment to individual freedom, secularism and faith in science to bring evolution.

Art and architecture

The Egyptians were of the first major civilizations to codify design elements in art and architecture. The wall paintings done in the service of the Pharaohs followed a rigid code of visual rules and meanings. Egyptian civilization is renowned for its colossal pyramids, colonnades and monumental tombs. Well-known examples are the Pyramid of Djoser designed by ancient architect and engineer Imhotep, the Sphinx, and the temple of Abu Simbel. Modern and contemporary Egyptian art can be as diverse as any works in the world art scene, from the vernacular architecture of Hassan Fathy and Ramses Wissa Wassef, to Mahmoud Mokhtar's famous sculptures, to the distinctive Coptic iconography of Isaac Fanous.

The Cairo Opera Home serves as the major performing arts venue in the Egyptian capital. Egypt's media and arts industry has flourished since the late nineteenth century, today with additional than thirty satellite channels and over hundred motion pictures produced each year. Cairo has long been known as the "Hollywood of the Middle East;" its annual film festival, the Cairo International Film Festival, has been rated as of 11 festivals with a top class rating worldwide by the International Federation of Film Producers' Associations.To bolster its media industry further, especially with the keen competition from the Persian Gulf Arab States and Lebanon, a large media city was built. Some Egyptian-born actors, like Omar Sharif, have achieved worldwide fame.

Literature

Literature constitutes an significant cultural element in the life of Egypt. Egyptian novelists and poets were part the first to experiment with modern styles of Arabic literature, and the forms they developed have been widely imitated throughout the Middle East. The first modern Egyptian novel Zaynab by Muhammad Husayn Haykal was published in 1913 in the Egyptian vernacular.Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz was the first Arabic-language writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Egyptian women writers include Nawal El Saadawi, well known for her feminist activism, and Alifa Rifaat who as well writes about women and tradition. Vernacular poetry is perhaps the majority popular literary genre amongst Egyptians, represented by the works of Ahmed Fouad Negm (Fagumi), Salah Jaheen and Abdel Rahman el-Abnudi.

Music

Egyptian music is a rich mixture of indigenous, Mediterranean, African and Western elements. In antiquity, Egyptians were playing harps and flutes, including indigenous instruments: the ney and the oud. Percussion and vocal music as well became an significant part of the local music tradition ever since. Contemporary Egyptian music traces its beginnings to the creative work of people such as Abdu-l Hamuli, Almaz and Mahmud Osman, who influenced the later work of Egyptian music giants such as Sayed Darwish, Umm Kulthum, Mohammed Abdel Wahab and Abdel Halim Hafez. These prominent artists were followed later by Amr Diab. He is seen by a lot of as the new age "Musical Legend", whose fan base stretches amount over the Middle East and Europe. From the 1970s onwards, Egyptian pop music has become increasingly significant in Egyptian culture, while Egyptian folk music continues to be played during weddings and other festivities.

Festivals

Egypt is famous for its a lot of festivals and religious carnivals, as well known as mulid. They are usually associated with a particular Coptic or Sufi saint, but are often celebrated by amount Egyptians irrespective of creed or religion. Ramadan has a special flavor in Egypt, celebrated with sounds, lights (local lanterns known as fawanees) and much flare that a lot of Muslim tourists from the region flock to Egypt during Ramadan to witness the spectacle. The ancient spring festival of Sham en Nisim (Coptic: Ϭⲱⲙ‘ⲛⲛⲓⲥⲓⲙ shom en nisim) has been celebrated by Egyptians for thousands of years, typically between the Egyptian months of Paremoude (April) and Pashons (May), following Easter Sunday.

Culture of Egypt