Al-Kiritliya House in Cairo. Here Noah’s Ark moored and God changed to Moses

A square-cut book, striking in color and title: The Legends of the House of Cretilism, by Jair Anderson, upper left are white birds, and below is a frame of a carefully painted portrait of a woman in folk costume, reminds to folk biographies. The title, the clip and the cover will surely rush to get the book. After the basmala and on the margin on the back of the cover, is written: “And now, my dear friend, here are these stories, the stories of the Kiritliya house, an old family home.” The introduction that followed these words is undoubtedly a motive to see and visit the house.

From here the story begins
In 4 Ibn Tulun Square, in the Sayeda Zeinab neighborhood, in the heart of the Egyptian capital, the house is located next to the Ibn Tulun Mosque, but it bears a new name: “Gair Anderson Museum”.

After crossing the electronic gate, you will find a small wooden door to the right of it, and a sign above it, “The Mausoleum of Sheikh Suleiman al-Kiritli.” In front of you you will find a home garden of two. opposite houses. When you get there, a “narrator” welcomes you to tell you the story. The accompanying guide begins in an automatic way: “The museum consists of two houses, the house of Muhammad bin Salem and the house of Amna bint Salem, and Jair Anderson, an English officer, and the last owner of the house connected them with an arch, and they are considered Islamic monuments belonging to the Ottoman era.” The man in his forties continues, saying, “The first house was founded in 1540 AD by the master Abdel Qader Al-Haddad, and it was known as the House of Amna Salem, as she was the last to own it. Who however lived in it by a woman from the island of Crete, it was known as the Cretan house.” He added: “Due to neglect, the condition of the two houses deteriorated, but Jair Anderson submitted a request to the Egyptian government to furnish the house in the Ottoman style, and restore it, to its poor condition.”

Legends of the house of Kritl
The Book of Legends of the House of Al-Kiritliya, written by Anderson himself, and translated into Arabic by Tamer Al-Laithi, appeals to European readers, and this is an essential detail, because the story of the House is also the story of the relationship of the West, Britain, the Arab world and Egypt in particular. In the book, Anderson talks about the story of his ownership of the two houses: “I came to Cairo in 1906 to join the Egyptian army as a doctor, just as I had been in the English army.” And he continues: “It was not a few days before I took Tarjuman to see some archaeological monuments, including the Ibn Tulun Mosque. As I approached the mosque, I was fascinated by an excellent house, built of stone. And to add to the excitement and mystery, Anderson adds: “I was attracted to a beautiful Egyptian girl, who suddenly appeared from one of the bars, head bare, rocking and calling me, smiling and beckoning me to enter.” Then he says: “I tendered my resignation from all my official posts, in 1924 A.D., after a busy career in the service of Egypt, that country which I loved above every other country, including my motherland… I was on looking for an authentic Arab house in Cairo, away from the daily life of the neighborhood. European”.

On his return to the same place, Anderson says: “Suddenly I had the feeling that this house would become mine,…I wrote to the competent government body and requested that I be allowed to live in this house for the rest of my life, until it is returned to the Egyptian government after my death, Prepared and equipped with a large collection of Islamic artifacts …, the house of the Kritliyya became mine!”

From an ancient family residence, to a house wrapped in legends, to a museum of Islamic antiquities
The al-Kiritliya house, where Noah’s ark moored, Abraham sacrificed his son, and God changed for Moses

Home legends and stories
The accompanying guide did not mention the legends and stories of the house, but reading the book asks you to look for the traces engraved on copper by a maker named “Abdul Aziz Abdo” during your visit, who small copper dishes are. , on which words from the legends are written, and a drawing illustrating the legend. The original drawings are preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, according to the Book of Legends of the House of Creatillism. In the book, thirteen legends, Anderson tells them through a sheikh named Suleiman al-Kartli, regarding the last families that inhabited the house.

And about whom Anderson says: “Dear Sheikh Suleiman, I see him now in my imagination, with his long white kaftan, and his black jacket, on his head a thin red fez without the green turban that the saints of God usually wear around their fold. fez, and in his hands a set of silver and turquoise rings, his fingers stained with nicotine. He smoked cigarettes, drank coffee or drank cinnamon.” At first Suleiman al-Kiritli regarded these stories as legends, but it was Anderson’s enthusiasm for the idea that made him unequivocally tell. Here we must note that these stories specifically Anderson is told, and that in their narration they respond to some extent to his fascination with the local tradition.

Anderson says in his book: “I soon sensed the existence of a network of stories and legends surrounding Sidi Harun, his mausoleum in the house and his magical well, … and the sheikh spent his life trying to collected, even if he did not record it.” In the story of the house, as the book tells it, it also follows the fate of the popular story when it is documented and written, and how the written word controls its details, meaning and nature, according to who tells it, who writes it and who reads it. When Anderson began to ask about it, the sheikh first spoke of it as a myth, but, as Anderson says in his book, “When he noticed my seriousness and my interest, and I took a piece of paper and ‘ took out a pen to write. what he said, he trusted me more and showed enthusiasm.”

first legend
“Listen, my friend, to the stories of the old house, the house of the Krit, which my ancestors inherited from long ago. But before that I must begin with the history of the blessed neighborhood, a time before the building of the house and the Mosque of Ibn Tulun.” The first legend tells of the arrival of Noah’s Ark. It says that “Mount Thankful on which the House and the Great Mosque of Ibn Tulun were built. It was the highest mountain in Egypt in the early days of time, and here Noah’s Ark anchored after the flood, not on Mount Ararat , as some have thought.” . In that place, as the sheikh tells, after the great flood, “no one survived except Noah, his wife and his children, and their ark was anchored on Mount Shakir after the flood, therefore they built the first cities here built after the destruction of all. the lofty cities of the Pharaohs.”

Thus Anderson tells the story in the tongue of Sheikh Suleiman the Karelti, and the Sheikh did not forget to graft his inherited stories, or what some say he made up, with verses from the Holy Koran for the same story. According to the sheikh and his stories, Ibrahim’s sacrifice of his son was also on the mountain, as well as the story of Moses with the magicians of Pharaoh, and God’s transfiguration for Moses, peace be upon him.

Another legend
Among the stories mentioned in the book, and which people repeat around the house, is the story of the well, which bears the title “The Enchanted Well”. Suleiman Al-Kiritli says: “Listen, my friend, to the story of love and its connection with the bat pit.” Here Gayer says in his book that his quote for the context of that story came from several stories and he first read it in its present form at the wedding of King Farouk in 1938. The well itself, according to the book’s translator, Tamer Al-Laithi, appeared in a number of legends and other popular epics, such as the biography of Saif bin The Jason. Suleiman says, adapted from Jair Anderson: “I know that a rich widow, Lutfia, long ago in lived the house of Al-Kiritliya, with her beautiful daughter Lutfia, and in the opposite house lived a handsome young man named Amin. , who was like Lutfia, his only mother, who was also a widow.” The plot of the story is that the young man “refused to marry, and because of his shyness he had no experiences in love.” The mother planted aspiration and passion in her son towards Lutfia, until he fell in love with her.

“One day Lutfia’s mother called her daughter and ordered her to fetch some water from the well. Lutfia got up after a hesitation and put on her shawl and went through the house’s yard to the bat’s well.” Although she was afraid of the well and its magic, she was eager to see “its waters, which inspired poets… All who look closely [فيه] He saw a picture of his beloved. When she came to him, the well’s water, according to the story, could not withstand Jamal Lutfia, so it overflowed, causing Lutfia to flee from her house, to the opposite house where Amin was sitting thinking about Lutfia who inhabited his imagination. While the water was having its way, in what is known in the neighborhood as the bat well, Amin fell in love with the boys and asked his mother to betroth her to him, so they tied the knot and changed their fate through the water of the enchanted well.

Literary and artistic photography
There are other stories of the house, which have lived through the walls in imaginary stories and in artistic figurative scenes, and perhaps most of us have seen them in famous works, we did not know that they were for this house. For example, few people know that the al-Kiritliya house was the basis for the world woven by Naguib Mahfouz, where Sayyid Ahmed Abdel-Gawad, the hero of the famous Mahfuz trilogy, lived in it. The house was also an inspiration for Egyptian cinema, as it appeared in the films Saad Al-Yateem, Al-Harafish, Shahd Al-Maleka and the series Imam Al-Ghazali. He also presented the famous song “Banwa … Banwa” by Soad Hosni, which was filmed in the house’s festival hall, the same hall in which the movie Almaz and Abdo Al-Hamouli was filmed. The song “Banwa Banwa” by Soad Hosni: https://youtu.be/4Eu23iPhINE

Songs from the movie Almaz and Abdo Al-Hamouli:
This is what the guide mentioned, despite ignoring the myths of building the house, in the same mechanical way, before he mentioned the works of art and monuments that were carried from the East and West to settle there. Among them: a fake head of Nefertari, a real Egyptian sarcophagus, crosses and gospels from the Coptic era, here are pictures of some of them, in a special video.

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