ברוכים הבאים לטור הראשון בעיתון שנכתב באנגלית.
הטור הבא נכתב בהשראת מטלה אותה התבקשתי לכתוב בקורס "אסלאם ונצרות בימי הביניים", באוניברסיטת UCD שבאירלנד, בעת ששהיתי שם במסגרת תוכנית חילופי סטודנטים. היה עלינו לבחור אחד מחמישה מסמכים עתיקים מהאוסף המוסלמי בספריית Chester Beatty " " בדבלין, ולנתח אותו על מאפייניו השונים כמקור ראשוני. אני בחרתי באיור טורקי של נח והתיבה מהמאה ה-16 (שמצורף ממש כאן).
חווית כתיבת העבודה הייתה מאתגרת ומהנה כאחת, כיוון שזכיתי להתנסות ולצלול לנושאים ולתחומים, כגון תולדות האומנות, מזרח תיכון ומדע הדתות, להם אין תמיד קשר ישיר עם היסטוריה או עם תחומי העניין שלי באופן ספציפי.
עניין אותי מאוד הרקע ההיסטורי של האיור כיצירה, כמו גם את סיפור המסגרת הדתי שלו. כיצד האמן קיבל את החלטותיו האומנותיות? על מה הסתמך? מהו ייעודו של האיור? באיזה סגנון השתמש ובאילו צבעים? ואיזה תפקיד בכלל משחק נח בדת האסלאם?
טור זה יספק לכם הצצה אל פועלה של סטודנטית להיסטוריה בארץ זרה, כשהיא בעצם מתיימרת להיות סטודנטית לתולדות האומנות שמבינה משהו באסלאם. אז לכל הקמים במחאה על העיוות, תנוחו – העבודה קיבלה .A
(בתמונה: נח בתיבה, כפי שמופיע באיור העומד במרכז טור זה)
Noah is considered one of the greatest characters in the Islam tradition and in the Quran in particular, where he has the role of a preacher and a prophet.
The first thing I noticed in the image was the possibility of it to be a book illustration, and not necessarily a work of art that stands alone. It reminded me the collection of the biblical illustrations of the artist Gustave Dore, in the way that it both look as part of 'something', as accompany to a text (which appears usually at the opposite page). Another clue for the painting to be an illustration can come from the small comment above in the right, in what seems to be a Turkish handwriting, that says (from what I understood): "I […] Noah" – Those words can be a referral to a text or a group of verses in the opposite page as well.
The image was created in Turkey on the 16th century, which means – Ottoman Empire times. At that period, the Ottoman art is influence by Persian and Chinese traditions, in a form of art, which called "miniature". One of the dominant motifs in the Ottoman art is the use of quiet and clean colures such as bright red (even crimson), turquoise and different shades of blue, as we can see from the painting. The views are simple and not dramatic, in contrast to Dore's illustration of the flood, for example. The sky is maybe the only detail that appears dramatic in the image, even though the waves were the ones that the Quran describes as: " […] mountains".
In General, by comparing with other Islamic paintings of Noah's ark (in the attached images at the end), there are mutual motifs and details to it. For example, the shape of the ship, the sails, the form of the clouds and the appearance of the windows of the ark, which reveal the animals inside.
On the deck of the ark (and inside it), there are five figures – one of them is Noah of course. We can tell by his big head and the halo behind him, apparently a common feature in the drawing of a holy character in Islam art. The other four are probably his sons: Shem, Ham, Jepheth and Yam (Ken'an). However, According to the Quran, Yam was a sinner and drowned at the flood, which means not even the sinners of Noah's family could be saved. Therefore, the question is why he is on the ark in that specific image?
In other paintings of the event, Yam appears as drowning – but the painter chose to ignore it for some reason. The other possibility is that those men are the very few believers that followed Noah's warnings.
Interesting revealing shows that the artist was inspire by the commentaries to Noah's story, of the medieval commentator – Tha'labi (around 1035 C.E.). According to him, the prow and the stern of the ark had a shape of a cock and a body of a bird, as we can see from the image. In addition, Tha'labi describing the levels of the ark – bottom for "quadrupeds" and the top is for humans and birds, details that the painter chose to mark as well. Tha'labi also mentions the legend of the ant and the donkey, which were the first and the last to enter the ark, respectively, and both of them are in the painting. According to Tha'labi, Ham was raised from the dead by Jesus and gave him the description of the ark. The decision of the painter to follow a commentary and not the context of the book is obvious. It is because of the lack of details about the ark in the Quran itself. The only description of the materials is wood and nails, so the illustrator chose one of the conventional commentators and followed his words.
The ark itself is an important object in the Islam, were it consider as a reminder of atonement to the people of the world (in fact, in Judaism it is the rainbow that stands as a sign of atonement and repent.
In order to appreciate the image, it is important to understand Noah's character in the Quran as well as the flood story in the Islam tradition. Noah is one of the five main prophets in the Islam, and he was send by God to preach the people to choose well and to leave their idolatry. A painting of Noah and the ark is sentimental and valuable to Muslims, simply because he was the "first", an important figure. He is title as "the first prophet of punishment", "the first establisher of the sacred law", "the first to call people unto Allah", "the Warner of mankind", and "truly one of our faithful servants".
To this day, Muslims show their respect to Noah by reliving his statement when arriving a new place: "in the name of god may it go, and in his name may it arrive". According the Quran, Noah did not succeed with his mission and the people continue with their sins, which brought God's anger and the command of build an ark.
The story of Noah is important to Islam mainly because it shows how much he and Muhammad had in common. They both had the same journey and faced the same struggles; they both were rejected by their own people ("thrust their fingers into their ears"), got rebuke and were called "insane" and "liars". More than that, Noah appears as the "prototype of the prophet Muhammad". However, the best example that shows Noah's Importance and status in the Muslim tradition, is that God tells the story of Noah to Muhammad himself as an encouragement – By showing him that it was not easy, not even to Noah.
(בתמונות: איורים נוספים של נח בתיבה, כפי שהופיעו ביצירות מוסלמיות)