"Old Baghdad" ~ Iraq, Romance, Fable & War
Baghdad ~ it's a name that once conjured up ideas of romance, beautiful architecture and fairy tales.
For the most part, it's now a horror story of death and destruction.
I have been listening to the director of Iraq's National Library on the radio. He was talking about how much of the country's heritage has been lost or destroyed, and of his venture to try to 'preserve his country's rich cultural heritage', and collect copies of some of Iraq's lost artefacts from sites around the world, to supplement the few treasures that remain.http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/takingastand/pip/0u2j8/
Baghdad was one of the places that I always wanted to see.
My Dad used to tell me, though, that it was no longer as it would have been in the Arabian Nights stories.
It certainly isn't now.
How it once was:
It was 'romantic' (semi-imaginary, perhaps?):
A Romance of Old Baghdad (1922)http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0013557/
Filmmakers' architecture of sets:http://sixmartinis.blogspot.com/2007/03/adventures-in-early-film-design.html
Some history from Wikipedia:
History of Baghdadhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Baghdad
Battle of Baghdad (1258)
'Fighting along the Tigris and Euphrates'
'The British-led Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force landed near Basra in November, 1914, just after Britain declared war on the Ottoman Empire'http://warpost.blogsome.com/category/operation-iraqi-freedom/fallujah/
'Basra, from the Shat-el-Arab, with H.M.S. Espiegle in the foreground' (GWS)http://www.firstworldwar.com/photos/graphics/gws_basra_01.jpg
Some recent images of Baghdad:http://dulceetdecorumest.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/sadriyamarketbombed.jpghttp://img414.imageshack.us/img414/4844/iraqbloodstains6xm.jpg
A story of 1920: 'A DWELLER IN MESOPOTAMIA ~BEING THE ADVENTURES OF AN OFFICIAL ARTIST IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN - BY DONALD MAXWELL
WITH SKETCHES IN COLOUR, MONOCHROME, AND LINE'http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18031/18031-h/18031-h.htm
New York Times archive
'With Artist and Naturalist in Asia' ~ May 1, 1921, Sunday
'ROY CHAPMAN ANDREWS tells ...............'
"Civilization, too, had its terrors, At Bagdad he drew starlit streets, queer domes, clusters of palms .. those strange round boats that have plied the waters of rivers since the dawn of history, and into all of them he put the mystery of the East, the glamour of the days of Haroun... . "Bagdad is better at night than by day" says hlr "daylight discloses so much squalor that it interferes with the glamour". And wonderful as is Bagdad, the little-known sacred city of Khadamain is better. "It is not until you see the golden towers of Khadamain that you get any glimpse of the splendor of the golden prime of good Hatroun-al-Raschid. Khadamain is a great place of pilgrimage, and so zealously guarded is the place that it is said no Christian a ould ever be allowed to come out of the great mosque alive. A golden chain hangs across the entrance."http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9E0DE5D6113FEE3ABC4953DFB366838A639EDEhttp://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-fre...amp;oref=slogin
THE GOLDEN TOWERS OF KHADAMAIN http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18031/18031-h/images/img005.jpg
A STREET IN KHADAMAIN http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18031/18031-h/images/img114.jpg
What about Basra?
THE HOUSE OF SINBAD THE SAILOR, BASRA: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18031/18031-h/images/img046.jpg
"The region of Basra, the city of Sinbad the Sailor and the starting point of his famous adventurous voyages to the World, is, some would say, the most beautiful part of Iraq ..." "Basra retains a romantic aura. ... it is lush, watered, full of trees and gardens .."http://www.atlastours.net/iraq/basra.html
More recent images of Basra:
Petrol bombs fly ~ September 20, 2005 http://www.smh.com.au/ffximage/2005/09/20/basra2_wideweb__430x400.jpg
Soldiers in war-torn Basra:http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/22CA1405-8B3E-4310-B88E-EBC4B04F8632/0/20070704_CplJones.jpghttp://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/4D9801C1-9D7C-4C43-AFAF-78E7EECD15D0/0/4RiflesInBasra2.jpg'7 Aug 07 ~ British soldiers based in Basra, southern Iraq face challenges every day which would test even the most skilled and dedicated military personnel. 'http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/MilitaryOperations/OnPatrolWith4RiflesInBasra.htm
'After four years and 168 deaths .. troops retreat from Basra ~ Locals cheer British exit as Iraqi flag is raised over Basra'http://img.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2007/09_01/TanksBasraPA_468x307.jpg
'Iraqi soldiers celebrate Iraqi Army Day in Basra, Iraq Sunday, Jan. 6, 2008.'http://chat.iraq.ir/enews/data/upimages/top1162.jpg
Thursday, June 01, 2006 ~ 'Basra 1936 ~ With the latest British presence in Basra providing images of war and occupation, I thought it might be pleasant to post these alternative images of the city.' ~ Martin Goodman http://martingoodman.com/soyouwanttobeawriter/2006_06_01_soyouwanttobeawriter_archive.html
Latest News From BBC:'"Liberated from Saddam Hussein and handed to the militias" is a common view of what the British military has achieved in Basra.'
14 December 2007http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7142400.stm'Though free from the yoke of its former president Saddam Hussein, pressing problems loom large for Iraq and its new leaders. The paramount challenge is to restore security and civil order.'
'Iraq has been the battleground for forces vying for power since the US-led invasion of 2003'
22 December 2007http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/country_profiles/791014.stm'A suicide bomber has killed 10 people in an attack in the city of Baquba, north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.'
2 January 2008http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7167842.stm
'A double bombing in Baghdad has killed at least 14 people, including the head of a US-backed armed group which fights al-Qaeda in Sunni Muslim areas.'
7 January 2008http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7174641.stm
Iraqi worshippers risk their lives to celebrate Christmas in church
December 26, 2005
December 8, 2007
Basra's murderous militias tell Christian women to cover up or face deathhttp://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article3018766.ece
Photo: Syrian Catholic church, Basra ~http://www.theodora.com/wfb/photos/iraq/iraq_photos_49.html
Baghdad: Mapping the violence ~ Baghdad violence
Map of city's attacks and ethnic divisions since 2003
'Since the US declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq in May 2003, the capital, baghdad, has seen the worst of the ongoing violence.'http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/in_depth/baghdad_navigator/
Seeking the fabled romance & mystery of Sheherazade's 1001 Nights:
The Arabian Nightshttp://mfx.dasburo.com/an/a_index_commented.html
The Porter And The Three Ladies Of Baghdadhttp://mfx.dasburo.com/an/a_night_4.htmlhttp://mfx.dasburo.com/an/a_night_7.html
Khalifah The Fisherman Of Baghdadhttp://mfx.dasburo.com/an/a_night_25.html
Sindbad The Seamanhttp://mfx.dasburo.com/an/a_night_16.htmlhttp://mfx.dasburo.com/an/a_night_17.htmlhttp://mfx.dasburo.com/an/a_night_18.htmlhttp://mfx.dasburo.com/an/a_night_19.htmlhttp://mfx.dasburo.com/an/a_night_20.htmlhttp://mfx.dasburo.com/an/a_night_21.htmlhttp://mfx.dasburo.com/an/a_night_22.htmlhttp://mfx.dasburo.com/an/a_night_23.html
The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
'One Thousand and One Sights from One Thousand and One Nights'
New York Times review of the film:'This Technicolor Arabian Nights extravaganza is widely regarded as one of the best (if not the best) fantasy films of the pre-computer technology era.'
'If elements of The Thief of Baghdad sound familiar, it is because the film was used as the model for the 1992 Disney animated feature Aladdin.'http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/49447/The-Thief-of-Bagdad/overview
Rimsky-Korsakov: Sheherazade ~ including 'Festival at Baghdad'http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rimsky-Korsakov-Sheherazade-Nikolay-Andreyevich/dp/B00006GEKG
'The Arabian Nights '
' ... also known as The Thousand and One Nights (Arabic: alf laila wa laila), originally a collection of oriental tales in the Arabic language'
'The development of the Nights from the oriental oral and literary traditions of the Middle Ages ... is a fascinating one.'
'The oldest preserved manuscripts, comprising a core corpus of about 270 nights, appear to date from the 15th century.'
'The apparent model for the literary versions of the tales was a Persian book entitled Hazar Afsaneh (A Thousand Tales), translated into Arabic in the 9th century ..'
'By the 15th century there were three distinct layers .. in the collection ...: (1) Persian tales that had some Indian elements .. adapted into Arabic by the 10th century; (2) tales recorded in Baghdad between the 10th and 12th centuries; (3) stories written down in Egypt between the 11th and 14th centuries.'
'It is supposed that the Sindbad tales originated in Baghdad.'http://www.answers.com/topic/the-book-of-one-thousand-and-one-nights
'The Thief of Baghdad'http://www.answers.com/topic/the-thief-of-baghdad-1
'Oriental fairy tales'http://www.answers.com/topic/oriental-fairy-tales
Luigi's Site ~ Baghdad - Iraq : The land of 1001 nightshttp://pralangga.multiply.com/photos/album/4/Baghdad_-_Iraq_The_land_of_1001_nights
'The most famous figure of Baghdad, besides Saddam Hussein, is perhaps Sheherazade (or more accurately, Shahrazad).'
'What story could she weave to avoid the destruction of Baghdad and the nation of Iraq?'http://anglicansonline.org/archive/special/iraq/sheherazade.html
I do not think that I shall ever get to see Baghdad ~ but you never know.
Even if the carnage ends, making it safe enough to go, I doubt that there will be much left to visit.
I may be wrong. Some of the beauties may yet remain, or be somehow salvaged.
And I wish director of Iraq's National Library well, in his venture to find as much evidence as possible of of Baghdad's historic and romantic past.
Do others feel a sense of loss over this 'fairy tale' land?
Or was I just wearing rose-tinted spectacles??