Luxor temple banquet, a photo by ibischild on Flickr.
Classical Egyptian music in front of the pylon of Luxor temple.
Sound technician in the shadows; then drum; tamborine and group leader; oud; flute; violin.
The red-felt tarboushes are a bit of history. A little like American men wearing fedora hats.
Does it get any better than this?
Dining al fresco, savoring the refreshing early-October breeze, near the entrance pylon of the great Luxor temple, the house of the wives of Amun.
The goddess Nut extends her star body like a canopy.
The moon? I can't remember whether there was a moon. A humid night. Hazy. Really not so good for stargazing. And the temple lit by artificial white light. The moon is an enigma here anyway. The moon is Djehuti, the ibis. The god of writing, and of scribes, and of storytelling. But around here--in Waset, the scepter city, capital of the land of the vulture Nekhbet, which is Upper Egypt--the moon is the god Khonsu. Take your pick!
So here we are at a dinner sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism. With traditional musicians. A skilled group playing classical music with a dancing rhythm. I suspect that, within the framework of each classic melody, there is some improvising going on. Some jazz riffs. After the sound technician makes some adjustments, the flute is hypnotic. And then we have a dancing beat again. No, the beat isn't set by the drum. The beat is set by the tambourine player, who sings in a decided yet sinuous fashion to show the other musicians the way. Oh, and the violinist is blind, by the way. Like the traditional blind harpist of ancient times.
Before dinner, I was able to amble among the colonnades and courtyards of the temple. Of the many temples around here, I have to say that Luxor is becoming my favorite. This temple is the architectural framework of the ancient boat procession from the opening pylon to the shrine at the southern end. I ride by the temple so often on the arabeya bus, observing what's happening in the plaza outside, in front of Abu el Haggag mosque. Children riding around in rented little pedal cars. Sweetmeat sellers and other vendors. The temple so familiar. Familiarity hasn't bred contempt. It's bred affection.
Fatigue and magic make me so relaxed. It's been an unexpected week. A conference sponsored by the South Asasif Conservation Project. Too wonderful to encapsulate in a blog post. So I've just given you the musicians and the dinner and the temple and this whimsical link to the South Asasif Project's supporters. Please have a look at the supporters. You'll go hahaha and awwww. And please consider assisting this project. It was thrilling to hear and see what they are doing to bring to light the glory days of the 25th/26th Dynasty Nubian Pharaohs.