Excavation Diary

Murals about the trip to Mecca

By Raffaella Carrera/MIN PROJECT

Author: admin/14 December 2014/Categories: Diario di scavo

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For those arriving for the first time in Luxor and crossing the Nile to the west bank to visit the temples and tombs of ancient Thebes, it is a pleasant surprise to discover the colorful decoration of the houses of the small villages in this area.


One of the old houses in the Theban Necropolis before they were demolished. Many of them contained scenes of Pilgrimage

The house of our neighbors is decorated with these motifs

There almost seems to be an uninterrupted link between the pharaohs who adorned the temples with images of their achievements and the Egyptians today that tell on the walls of their homes of the most important undertaking for a Muslim: the journey to Mecca.

Perhaps we could also mention the pilgrimages to Abydos that the ancient Egyptians called TA GSR, holy land, confirming that the journey to a sacred place has always been an Egyptian tradition.

Hajj is the Arabic word indicating the pilgrimage that every good Muslim must make at least once in a lifetime, in fact, the Hajj is among the five fundamental pillars of Islam that a true believer must follow, that is the testimony of faith, the daily prayers, almsgiving and fasting in Ramadan.

A praying muslim

The pilgrimage to Mecca since ancient times was considered a great achievement given the difficulty of collecting the money and face a long and risky trip. Today the modern means of transportation make everything faster, but it certainly remains a substantial cost for an average family in Egypt. For this reason, for those who have few economic means all the family contributes to send a person, usually an elderly person (the head of the family or wife), to Mecca. In turn they will help each other so that the journey is made by everyone at least once in their life.

On return from the pilgrimage, people acquire the title of Hajji if the pilgrim is a man, and Hajja if it's a woman. It often happens that when young educated people appeal to older people who they do not know, they call him Hajji or her Hajja. Thus they assume that, given the person's age, they have already undertaken the journey and treat them with reverence.

Finally, for those who own a home, the journey is told through murals that adorn the exterior walls, normally representing the Ka'ba, the Islamic shrine, and the used means of transportation: horses, camels, ships, airplane...

Means of transportation to go to Mecca

The drawings remind one of the native style, being very colorful and often accompanied by religious texts. These are some examples that you can see walking through the villages of the Gurna area.

Representation of the Kaaba

 

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