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Nubia and Nubians

Nubia now extends from Aswan to the town of Dabba near the Fourth Cataract, linking Egypt; i.e. the northern part of the Nile valley to the Sudan in the south. The name Nubia is first mentioned in Straboís Geographica; the Greek author is believed to have visited Egypt in 29 BC; the name does not appear in any Ancient Egyptian texts. The etymology of the name Nubia is uncertain, but some researchers believe it is derived from the Egyptian nbu meaning gold, referring to the gold mines for which Nubia was famous. Egyptian texts refer to Nubia generally as Ta-Sti, meaning "Land of the Bow", a clear reference to Nubiansí most common weapon.
 Nubia has always been closely linked with Egypt, the Nile forming a close tie. The inhabitants belong to the same ethnic groups. There is a regular vigorous two-way traffic on the Nile, and when the Cataracts impede river navigation there are well used routes and desert tracks
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Nubia is blessed with rich natural resources: gold, copper and semiprecious stones:carnelian, jasper, amethyst, all of great economic importance in ancient economy.Owing to its unique location, Nubia was the passage through which exotic African goods reached Egypt:ebony, ivory, incense, ostrich feathers and ostrich egg-shells, adding to Nubiaís share in world trade.
Because of its long cultural history, the folk heritage of Nubia is rich, varied and wonderfully original. It has distinctive features since it is the product of three mingled groups that make up the Nubian people; the Kenuz who speak Matuki; the Fadija who speak their own language and the Arabs of Aliqat, who moved to Nubia from Sinai in the 18th Century.
Nubian folk heritage covers: buildings, furniture, arts, crafts, jewelry and costumes. There is the music, the singing, dancing, and literature of all kinds as well as customs and social norms.
Buildings in Nubian villages are made of stone, clay and sand; the roofs are commonly built of jareed and grain stalks. The roofs of the well-to-do are arched domes of clay bricks. The floors are covered with clean sand and household utensils for everyday use hang from the ceiling. The walls of houses, especially the facade are decorated with ornaments and paintings of flags, flowers, birds and animals. Crockery is often used for wall decorations; a plate usually occupied the centre of the design on the facade.
 A Nubian house is usually composed of the entrance hall, an open court, domed bedrooms, the store, the kitchen and the toilet. Nubian jewelry is rich and various according to form, function and materials. There are necklaces, pendants, bracelets and rings. Jewelry is usually made of gold or silver and occasionally inlaid with semi-precious stones. Nubian and Sudanese jewelers living in Cairo, especially in Abdin Quarter specialize in this craft. Some of them live in Nubian towns and villages.
Nubian crafts are relatively few and rather primitive. The most common are pottery and baskets and mats made of palm fronts. Those crafts are practised basically by women who are trained from early childhood. In addition, there is some hand weaving of cotton and wool, but it is a minor craft.
    Nubians use amulets, charms and talisman for good luck and protection from the evil eye. Some are painted on walls in the form of scorpions, eyes or triangles. Some are made of braided beads, shells or hair which hang on posts of beds or hang thickly from ceilings. Baskets made of palm branches and decorated with white shells, hanging from the ceiling, may have the same function.
As for the Nubian folk dancing, it is performed in groups by women and men of all ages. A number of folk dances are performed in seasons of sowing and harvest, in prayer for prosperity and plentiful crops.
Men in Nubia usually wear a black robe (jelbaba) over their underwear. Women are wrapped in a shawl which hangs down to their feet. Two ends are tied in a knot on the left shoulder, covering the left arm while the right arm remains bare. Children wear blue or multi coloured jelbabas. Women wear their hair in long braids hanging down their backs. They are fond of ornaments and jewelry, rings, ear rings, anklets, nose rings, bracelets and necklaces made of beads.
    Marriage in Nubia is the responsibility of the parents but uncles share this responsibility. Because kinship in Nubia is both patriarchal and matriarchal, marriage between cousins is favoured and even obligatory at times. Marrying his cousin (on the fatherís side) is a moral obligation for a young man. The brideís dower in that case is much lower than what an outsider would have to pay. The exact amount varies from one tribe to another. Presents and money gifts are given to both families to help with the expenses which are very high, for weddings are celebrated in large ceremonies to which all the village is invited and some times people from other villages. The Nile plays a key role in Nubian culture, the couple have to go down to the river on their wedding night and wash in its water, to ensure prosperity, good health and numerous progeny. When a male child is born, the birth is celebrated on the seventh day with the slaughter of a sheep or more, a recital of the Qurían and the boy is given a name. When the child is a female, they only invite friends and go to the Nile bank where the baby is named.
To many experts, the Nubian art reflects the areaís rich culture; many of its symbols and motifs are significant expressions of folk traditions and superstitions. They can be seen in tattoos and wall paintings that decorate the facades and entrance halls of many houses. These symbols recur in the designs of bead work and all kinds of baskets, plates, mats, etc.
Decorative motifs often carry a moral or magic significance. A sword stands for courage and heroic achievement. Stars and a crescent are Islamic symbols of good omen, also the black cat, crows and owls carry bad omens. Roses and flowers in general stand for friendship and love, the apple for feminine attraction, the tortoise for idleness, the chameleon for change and a pitcher and prayer rug for purity and chastity.
Leading a galaxy of key world figures, President Hosni Mubarak, on Monday, November 23, opened the Nubian Museum in the southern town of Aswan. The museum is deemed a long-cherished dream which has just come true. The facility, with its multifaceted exhibits, is designed to recall the feats made by the Ancient Egyptian against impregnable rocks and sweeping cataracts to set up a mighty civilization whose culture has survived through the centuries. To experts, the museum is a celebration of the impressive concerted efforts of the world in response to the international appeal launched by UNESCO in 1960, for saving the antiquities of Nubia, in danger of being submerged at the time of the building of the High Dam.
Studies on the project started in the early eighties, by committees formed of members of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, UNESCO experts and Egyptian architect Muhammad Al-Hakim. The basic premise was full integration with the surrounding environment, architectural composition in keeping with the nature of the historical and archaeological area, and generally blending with features of the site.
The climate of Aswan was taken into consideration, light-and heat-proof materials were used for windows, walls and facades. The total area of the museum site is 50,000 square metres, 7000 m2 of which are occupied by the museum buildings. The remainder covers the outside precincts and the open air exhibitions, exhibitions indoor halls, stores and restoration, research unit, administration building and public services and facilities.
The exhibits of the Nubia Museum highlight various periods of the history of Nubia. The Prehistory Cave presents manís first creative attempts at depicting his environment in rock carvings of cursive lines, testifying to his dexterity in using his tools. Various animals of the period are portrayed in those carvings, notably elephants and giraffes. Those wall carvings of animals, men, and natural objects are some of the earliest specimens of free artistic composition directly on a stone medium. They are reminiscent of a similar series of early manís creative work in caves in the north of Spain and the famous prehistory caves of France.
Visitors to the museum will be introduced to great kings such as King Ramses II who developed new military tactics in his famous wars, and King Taharka, who was born in Nubia, and ruled the whole of Egypt. The museum exhibits also illustrate the character of Nubia in the Graeco-Roman, Coptic and Islamic periods, and its strong assimilation of Islamic culture. The exhibition of folk heritage emphasizes the retaining by Nubia of its identity and distinctive culture under all circumstances. The out-door display features the immortal journey of the Nile across rocks and cataracts, to bring eternal life to Egypt.
 

 
 

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