Tribune News Network
QATAR National Library (QNL), a member of Qatar Foundation (QF), is to host its 'Arab and German Tales Transcending Cultures' exhibition at the library from April 17 to August 18.
The exhibition, organised within the framework of the Qatar-Germany Year of Culture, will provide an insight into the history of Arabic and German fairy and folk tales, and how the two cultures influenced each other. It aims to show the transcultural value of narrative traditions as a shared cultural heritage, and highlights mutual influences, shared ideas, and cultural transfer between the Arab world and Germany through storytelling past and present.
"This exhibition is an example of the important cultural exchanges that will take place at QNL. Sharing resources and collections across cultural organisations is crucial to mutual understanding, which is at the core of QNL's mission," said Dr Sohair Wastawy, Executive Director, QNL.
Commenting on the exhibition, HE Hans-Udo Muzel, German Ambassador to Qatar, said:"I'm truly delighted that, as a final contribution to the Qatar-Germany Year of Culture, with the help of many hands, it was possible to bring this stellar collection of old and modern manuscripts to Qatar. The new Qatar National Library is a magnificent building, serving as an outstanding venue for preserving Qatari and regional culture, as well as a center for science, information and learning for the people of Qatar, Qatari citizens and residents alike. Presenting unique examples of Arab and German storytelling, once again the strength of our shared cultural traditions becomes visible. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the State of Qatar, the dedicated leadership and staff of QNL and the German institutions for realising this wonderful event. And finally, I would like to invite all Doha families to visit Qatar National Library and enjoy spending time with 'Haroun al Rashid' and 'Cinderella'.
Professor Dr Verena Lepper, Curator of the exhibition and Curator for Egyptian and Oriental Papyri and Manuscripts at the Papyrus Collection in Berlin, said:"This exhibition is based on a joint research project combining both worlds. The catalogue is published as one book in Arabic-German-English. Who knows that an elephant ran through the Carolingian city of Aachen as early as 806? It was brought from Baghdad to Karl the Great, the founder of Europe, as a diplomatic gift from Harun ar-Rashid, Caliph of the Arab Abbasid Empire. This was a century from which the oldest Arabic version of the One Thousand and One Nights dates; stories translated in Europe and later decisively influenced the Brothers Grimm in writing their fairy tales. These are just a few examples. This circle could hardly be more international."
The Exhibition Curator and AGYA Principle Investigator Verena Lepper added:"Who does not know Cinderella? But who knows today's Qatari oral version of this tale? Who knows that the most famous German poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, was able to write in Arabic and that his most famous works of poetry were influenced by Arab authors? There were early travellers who mediated between the Arab and German worlds and exchanged culture."
The exhibition will feature masterpieces from antiquity to the present including rare ancient Egyptian tales written on papyri (writing surfaces made from the pith of a plant growing in the Egyptian wetlands), such as the story of Sinuhe, dating from the XII dynasty (approximately 1,900 years BC). In addition, the exhibition will feature a cuneiform tablet with the Epic of Gilgamesh from the 13th century BC; stories of the Arabian Nights and the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm; examinations of the famed One Thousand and One Nights through the Arabic oral tradition, before it was adapted and amended by European writers such as the Brothers Grimm; travellers between both worlds and their stories; the original Arabic handwriting of the famous German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; and modern versions of such texts by Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz or the oral Qatari version of Cinderella.
The exhibition is a joint enterprise between QNL, the German Embassy Doha, 'c4gyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection National Museums of Berlin), and the Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities.