British Museum blog

Angareeb – a living Sudanese tradition

Shadia Abdu Rabo, Sudan National Museum

New beds stacked up in Omdurman market near Khartoum

New beds stacked up in Omdurman market near Khartoum

In November, clearing out a store in the expedition house at Amara West, we came across many fragments of traditional beds, or angareeb, made of wood, leather and rope. We have repaired some of these, to use in our lounge area, but also in some of the bedrooms.

Angareeb bed legs found in the storeroom of the expedition house at Amara West

Angareeb bed legs found in the storeroom of the expedition house at Amara West

These beds have a very long history in Sudan, going back to the ancient Kerma culture, where the dead were placed on low beds inside graves.

The Virgin Mary on a bed. Painted scene from Faras, Sudan National Museum

The Virgin Mary on a bed. Painted scene from Faras, Sudan National Museum

In the cemetery at Amara West, despite the actions of both robbers and termites, there is clear evidence that some of the burials featured similar beds. In some tombs, there is evidence for both beds of this type and Egyptian coffins, reflecting a mixture of different cultural traditions in the late second millennium BC.

But the form of the bed survived through historical, political and religious changes.

In a fifth century AD painting in the church at Faras, now in the Sudan National Museum, the Virgin Mary is shown upon a bed, while in the late nineteenth century, the wife of the ruling Mahdi owned a lavish example of an angareeb.

An angareeb decked out for a wedding

An angareeb decked out for a wedding

The beds follow people from birth to death: childbirth often takes place on such angareeb; circumcision rituals are performed; beds are used in Koranic khalwa-school, are adorned for wedding ceremonies, and are a feature of funeral processions.

Craftsman cutting legs for a new angareeb, in Omdurman market near Khartoum

Craftsman cutting legs for a new angareeb, in Omdurman market near Khartoum

The shape has not changed radically, and today one can visit craftsmen in the market to see the beams of acacia, mahogany or date palm being cut and joined (now with wire and metal nails), before the bed is strung – often with nylon string not rope.

If you would like to leave a comment click on the title

Filed under: Amara West, Archaeology

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 11,954 other followers

Categories

Follow @britishmuseum on Twitter

British Museum on Instagram

Here’s an illustration by Helen Binyon of the Bennett girls from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice #WorldBookDay #JaneAusten #PrideandPrejudice #author #books #illustration Many famous authors have studied in the Museum's Reading Room including Karl Marx, Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker! #WorldBookDay #history #author #museum #library This papyrus from the Book of the Dead of Ani is over 3,000 years old! #WorldBookDay #papyrus #books #history Today is #WorldBookDay, and we’re celebrating all things books! Beatrix Potter's endearing characters and stories are beloved the world over. Here’s an illustration to her book The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies (1909)
#BeatrixPotter #books #illustrations #drawing Our forthcoming exhibition ‪#‎IndigenousAustralia (opening 23 April) will include magnificent loans from Australia plus specially commissioned artworks. The National Museum of Australia will loan this masterpiece, titled Yumari. Find out more and book tickets at www.britishmuseum.org/indigenousaustralia
#exhibition #australia #history #art A bit of Tuesday fun: #woodpecker and #weasel by Thomas Bewick
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 11,954 other followers

%d bloggers like this: