Wekalet Al Ghouri
Tannoura is an Egyptian, folkoric variation on the dance of the Sufi Derwishes of Turkey, a sect of Islam which emphasizes poetry and a more mystical, spiritual approach to the religion. The Wekalet in which the performances occur was built by Egypt’s medieval, Mamluke rulers. It is a multistory structure that perfectly illustrates the kinds of prestige, protection, and accommodations traveling merchants were afforded in Egypt following the Arab conquest.
From an architectural perspective, the Wekalet boasts 29 great examples of latticed window screens from the period of Mamluke rule of Egypt. Currently, the Wekalet Al Ghouri is one of four cultural centers in the immediate Al Azhar area. It should be noted that local Egyptians developed the unique Sufi whirling dance to create a show that is not quite related to spirituality, as is the case with more spiritual versions of Sufi dancing. Egyptian performers have added colorful costumes and rhythmic tones to the music, incorporating Egyptian folk traditions to the religious spiritual aspect.
In contrast, the Sufi mystic must be spinning in the direction corresponding with the direction of the sun. One hand must be pointed to the sky and the other toward the earth, which symbolizes establishing a connection between the two. The circular movements of the dancer represent the ridding of worldly burdens, until he reaches ecstasy through this attempt to reach heaven. The untying of the belt around the waist towards the end of the dance represents the beginning of his journey to heaven.
- Watch your step as you climb the many stairs of the building, as they are well-worn.
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