Withstanding the passage of time, but not the shaking of the Earth

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Monday, April 22, 2024


Withstanding the passage of time, but not the shaking of the Earth
The wreckage of the historic Great Mosque of Tinmal in the village of Tinmel, in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023. Last week’s devastating earthquake killed at least 2,900 people. (Nariman El-Mofty/The New York Times)

by Vivian Yee and Aida Alami



MARRAKECH.- A team of archaeologists, historians and engineers had nearly finished a monthslong restoration of the Tinmel Mosque, a 1,000-year-old jewel of Moorish architecture set deep in the mountains of Morocco, when a powerful earthquake barreled through the area a week ago.

By the time it was over, the intricate domes and graceful arches, first built by the dynasty that conquered parts of Spain as well as North Africa in the 12th century, had crumbled.

Tinmel was “a reflection of an extraordinary civilization, the apogee of this civilization,” said Abdallah Fili, an archaeologist and professor at the University of El Jadida who was leading the restoration. “It was a beautiful project. Unfortunately, fate decided otherwise.”

After the disaster, Moroccans grieved for mothers, sons, cousins, neighbors and friends. More than 3,000 died in all, among them five of the workers restoring the Tinmel mosque and living nearby. Many survivors lost their homes and everything in them.

But Morocco also suffered a very different kind of loss with the damage or destruction of some of its rich heritage — venerated mosques, exquisitely tiled palaces in Marrakech and ancient hilltop citadels built by the indigenous Amazighs, or Berbers, who long dominated the mountains where the quake struck hardest.

Word spread first of the well-known monuments of Marrakech.

Video of the 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque, a city landmark and tourist magnet that towers over the oldest part of Marrakech, showed its famous minaret listing back and forth during the earthquake, emitting puffs of dust. Cracks appeared inside.

But it was spared the fate of the Kharbouch Mosque, which stands on one end of Djemaa El Fna square — the heart of the city and a major tourist attraction filled with musicians, henna artists and food stalls. The mosque’s minaret collapsed altogether, injuring several people on the way down.

“We’re scared and really psychologically upset,” said Khadija Chuegra, who saw the minaret crumble as she fled her nearby house during the earthquake.

Now she stood near the Koutoubia Mosque, where she and other Marrakech residents once prayed regularly, filling it during the holy fasting month of Ramadan or the days of Eid. Its square had been sealed off by metal barriers and police tape while experts assessed the damage, but no final diagnosis had been made, according to a government official.

“I would love to go there and pray for the dead,” said Chuegra, “but I’m afraid it might collapse.”

Elsewhere in Marrakech, several museums, as well as the 16th-century El Badi Palace (often translated as “The Incomparable”) and the late 19th-century El Bahia Palace (“The Beautiful”) were closed to visitors. Experts have judged them to be in serious condition, and what appeared to be materials for shoring up the structure of El Badi were piled outside the palace on Wednesday.

The palaces stand in the walled ancient core of the city, known as the Medina, a sprawling spider web of narrow alleyways lined with doors that can lead to humble apartments or sumptuous riads — mansions built around courtyards and, in many cases, turned into guesthouses. Residents said the apparently untouched or lightly cracked exterior walls of the homes hid serious destruction within.

“Don’t be fooled by all of this,” said Jamila Fouzi, 45, a resident of the Mellah, the historic Jewish quarter in the Marrakech Medina, as her neighbors packed their belongings into bulging shopping bags, too worried about the state of their homes to sleep there. “Another tremor, and all these walls will come down.”

With aid operations still underway in the badly hit rural areas near Marrakech, the extent of the damage to the many heritage sites scattered across the Atlas Mountains was not yet clear.

The region is strewn with historically significant monuments, including prehistoric rock engravings, Amazigh casbahs and Muslim and Jewish shrines, mausoleums, mosques and graves. Sitting in remote villages, many have long been neglected, especially compared with their far better-known city counterparts.

Two of the mountain sites that now stand at least partly in ruins were monuments to the once-dominant power of Amazigh tribal chiefs who ruled over the Atlas Mountains, including the Glaoui and Goundafi families. They built huge citadels, or casbahs, that towered over mountain passes as symbols of their power and influence.

When Morocco broke away from France’s rule, the families lost prominence and the casbahs — now symbols of defiance toward the new authorities — were left to rot, said Brahim El Guabli, a Williams College professor who researches Amazigh and Arab culture.

The casbahs were “brilliant demonstrations of Amazigh architectural know-how,” he said. “The trade and the meticulous construction patience that went into making them is important to preserve for future generations, even after the material effects of the earthquake are over.”

The Goundafi casbah, which stood near the epicenter of the quake, is now mostly destroyed, El Guabli said.

The 18th-century Glaoui casbah in the village of Telouet, which the Glaouis ornamented like a royal Moorish palace at the height of their power and wealth, was largely a wreck before the quake. Now, the intact portion that visitors could see before the disaster is also badly damaged, according to Abderrahman El Glaoui, a descendant who helps oversee the casbah for the family.

Once, the casbah guarded the trade route between the northern and southern Atlas Mountain ranges, where pilgrims bound for Mecca also passed on their way from southern Morocco into the Sahara toward Algeria and eventually Saudi Arabia. Now it overlooks a miles-long swath of utter destruction.

El Glaoui said his family lacked the means to restore the ruin and would look to the government for support — support that has previously been absent from this region, for heritage sites and marginalized villages alike.

“After the sadness, after the terrible shock, after, I would say, the grieving,” El Glaoui said, “I think that this will compel a new spirit. Because really, those areas in the mountains are lagging behind, so I hope that this is an opportunity for those regions to move ahead.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.










Today's News

September 18, 2023

Rocks not so solid on the Met's face

A spectacular marble cube rises at Ground Zero

Apollo Art Auctions presents exceptional antiquities, ancient art and militaria, Sept. 24

'Holy cow, we found an X-Wing.' Bidding starts at $400,000.

Withstanding the passage of time, but not the shaking of the Earth

AstaGuru to offer a diverse collection of works by leading contemporary artists

Tate appoints two new curators specialising in ecology and First Nations and Indigenous Art

Requiem by Chris Ofili unveiled at Tate Britain

The Dutch Golden Age comes to Bonhams with an important single-owner collection

National Air and Space Museum receives over $11 million from National Science Foundation

Jann Wenner defends his legacy, and his generation's

When the wig is a character: Backstage at Jocelyn Bioh's new play

In 'The Refuge Plays,' Nicole Ari Parker comes home

'Sea Chantey' night at the bar: A rowdy, joyous ritual for lxandlubbers

The Rabbi whisperer: A playwright helps sermon writers find their voice

Echoing federal theater project, 18 towns plan simultaneous events

The most reprinted cartoon in 'New Yorker' history barks up Heritage's Illustration Art event in October

Coin collection stashed in Boston garage nears $1 million at Heritage Auctions

Beatrix Potter, Alberto Vargas and Gil Elvgren lead Heritage's Oct. 6 Illustration Art Auction

3 actors, 1 unshakable bond

Smithsonian American Art Museum releases 10 new digital comics

Latinas make breaking news in Smithsonian Spanish-language TV exhibition

CIA discloses identity of second spy involved in 'Argo' operation

Melbourne's Coastal Art Trail: A Road Trip Expedition

Unsung Heroes: The Art Designers Behind Iconic NFT Collections

Concealing Perfection: The Art of Using Paint to Address Hairline Cracks

What is a Ultrasonic Flow Meter




Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit
Attorneys
Truck Accident Attorneys
Accident Attorneys

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful