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TANGIBLE -INTANGIBLE HERITAGE(S) -DESIGN, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL CRITIQUES ON THE PAST, PRESENT AND THE FUTURE RE-READING URBAN HISTORY, COSMIC HEROES IN TRADITIONAL COMMUNITIES

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This paper discusses the rule of vernacular thinking in urbanism through history. It is the vernacular thinking that creates a unique sense of place that forces the individual to recognize his own space as a sacred one and attaches it to all the
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    TANGIBLE  –   INTANGIBLE HERITAGE(S)   –   DESIGN, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL CRITIQUES ON THE PAST, PRESENT AND THE FUTURE   AMPS, Architecture_MPS; University of East London London: 13-15 June, 2018   RE-READING URBAN HISTORY, COSMIC HEROES IN TRADITIONAL COMMUNITIES.  Author: YASSMEIN HAMDY MOHAMED ABDALLA  Affiliation: INDEPENDENT RESEARCHER, Ph.D. INTRODUCTION, The rules that define vernacular/ Traditional urban settlements can be totally different from the  physical constrains that defines the modern ones. This is due to different aspects, one of them comes from the perception of space itself. As the modern urbanized world tends to perceive space as Conceptual  –   which is abstract, geometric and objectively measured, a context which places, people, and things exist within. (Dovey, 1985). The man in traditional community tends to think of space as a lived one Which is a pre-conceptual and meaningful spatial experience of what phenomenologist call “being in the world” (Heidegger, 1962). It is believed to be a concrete and meaning centered bodily experience. This space is not concerned with the setting (real or logical) of things are arranged, but the means whereby the positioning of things becomes possible. 1  The question that arises is why the Man needs to organize his space symbolically? In fact, Man can endure any obstacle intellectually and his imagination can cope with anything but Chaos. It is the man’s greatest fear to meet what he cannot interpret. Thus, to eliminate Chaos, the man uses inherited symbols of general orientation to assist him in organizing it. 2  In fact, the architectural space is only  perceived as places performing a function  –   either external or internal - and inhabiting a meaning. The surrounding environment is categorized, and the undefined space is transformed to a determined place  by symbols and cultural artifacts. 3   THE AIM Is to focus on th e role of “the sacred Hero” through history in working as a center of Urban orientations in traditional communities. How it influences the settlement’s development and how it can  be transformed to an urban language that can be used in the world today. METHODOLOGY Using an analytical approach to investigate “Sacred heroes” as intangible heritage and its interpretations and manifestations in the human mind and his space perception extracting the main  psychological factors that form indigenous urban patterns adapted in his physical environment and surrounding constrains. The analytical approach is used to examine how culture works, how the human mind thinks and acts within a society, and how its interpretations and manifestations can be the answer to summon “The Spirit of the Vernacular” needed by the new urban world to regain its sense of dwelling and stability. Then a comparative methodology is used to compare several case studies from the world urbanism. It aims to reach urban guidelines in dealing with the urban development in traditional communities today to reach a certain level of cultural sustainability.    TANGIBLE  –   INTANGIBLE HERITAGE(S)   –   DESIGN, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL CRITIQUES ON THE PAST, PRESENT AND THE FUTURE   AMPS, Architecture_MPS; University of East London London: 13-15 June, 2018   CULTURE AS A GENERATOR FOR TANGIBLE AND INTANGIBLE HERITAGE When combining the basic human natural factors, such as genes, race, and instinct which are a universal inheritance, with the cultural components of language, religion, and knowledge with all their symbols, rituals, norms and values, the result would be an individual with a personal behavior that depends consciously and unconsciously on the collective mind of his or her specific cultural group. Such an individual can create cultural products - either material or non-material - that are unique and significant with its creative individual soul and incredibly works within a collective frame of culture and universal inheritance at the same time (Fig.1). Fig (1) Cultural Components and its Relation to the Individual 4   HEROES AS A MANIFESTATION OF CULTURE Culture manifests itself in countless numbers of aspects as culture products themselves, either tangible or intangible can be recognized as cultural manifestation. However, some of these manifestations shape the minds of individuals within cultural groups and stimulate their collective behaviors to respond to the different life situations in a unique way that corresponds to their cultural heritage. These manifestations can be summarized in: 5  1.   Symbols:   words, images, signs and gestures that hold an underlying meaning recognized by a certain cultural group. These symbols are part of the inherited tradition and are passed from one generation to another. In some cases, they may demolish, disappear, or be replaced by newly developed symbols. In other cases, they may be transferred from one culture to another or even reach the state of universal recognition by the whole of different human cultures. 2.    Heroes:   are persons whose stories are remembered, told and passed from one generation to another within a cultural group. Such heroes are either real persons who present a part of the group’s cultural history or mythic persons whose acts deliver a sacred value rooted in the collective mind of the group and found the need to be passed  –   consciously or unconsciously - through generations to maintain such a value alive, or  –   in other several cases −  they are real  persons provided with mythic additional stories for all the previous reasons. Hero’s acts are “a model of behavior” that an individual in a cultural group follows to reach a    TANGIBLE  –   INTANGIBLE HERITAGE(S)   –   DESIGN, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL CRITIQUES ON THE PAST, PRESENT AND THE FUTURE   AMPS, Architecture_MPS; University of East London London: 13-15 June, 2018  higher value and feel connected to the sacred world of his own cultural community. According to Campbell (1949), the people, the tribes of the world and clans tend to preserve heroic myths and stories alive. As they are important to “the soul” to live. So, by trying to tell them and live them out in some way, wisdom and experience would be brought to the one’s life. 6  3.    Rituals: are collective activities that are socially essential. They are performed by the members of the social groups to reach certain objectives. These can be simple rituals performed for their own sake, or they can be more complicated rituals that are associated with religious or cultural ceremonies and use a symbolical language to reach a higher value or a higher sacred state that is needed by a society. 4.   Values: are the core of culture. It is the broad tendency for the preference of a certain to other, such as good versus evil, right versus wrong. These values are usually unconscious. They are not directly comprehended consciously on intention, but they are more comprehended through the  people’s action under different circumstances.  If these manifestations were imagined as pyramid steps or layers, then symbols would present the outer and lower layer. Or, in other terms, the external layer cannot be understood without the folklore of the cultural and mythical heroes who use several acts to reach the higher value. Therefore, as shown in Fig (2), it can be noted that cultural groups practice culture by repeating the heroic actions symbolically through the collective rituals to reach the old wisdom. Fig (2). Cultural Manifestations 7   HERO’S LEGACY AND URBAN ORIENTATIONS, After understanding how heroes are a very strong cultural manifestation that is formulated in the collective unconscious of cultural groups it is much easier now to comprehend the consistently repetitive pattern of mythological and folk heroes/ saints with their astonishing journeys and their effect on the spatial order in urban settlements. Whether it is Indara killing the cosmic snake and founding the world in Indian mythology or Isis and her son Horus −  Great Mother Archetype −   collecting her husband’s b ody parts and avenging him from Set −  archetypes of Shadow/Chaos −  in Egyptian mythology, they all form the image of primordial cosmic heroes whose lives, journeys, and deaths are rooted in the collective thinking of cultural groups through history. they produce an urban language and a spatial order within space creating the sacred fixed center of “Hero/ Saint” for all future orientations.      TANGIBLE  –   INTANGIBLE HERITAGE(S)   –   DESIGN, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL CRITIQUES ON THE PAST, PRESENT AND THE FUTURE   AMPS, Architecture_MPS; University of East London London: 13-15 June, 2018  To a more comprehension of the importance of Cosmic heroes in the collective culture, the sketch drawn by Campbell (1 949) of The Hero’s Journey with its common factors that constitute repeatable  patterns is cosmic hero’s tales when compared with the sketch drawn by Jacobi (1942) in her analysis of “the self as the center of totality” based on Jung’s definitions. 8 (Table 1).A huge similarities would  be found. It explains how the sacred heroes transform to a sacred figure and a center of orientation. This is as much as what happens in the individual’s mind when he or she forces his or her unexplained needs to be connected to the sacred to go back through Ego −  as a threshold  −  and to connect and communicate with the archetypal images then emerging again through Ego with images and  procedures that can be accepted and realized to become a total reality in an endless conscious/unconscious processing cycle. Table (1). Comparison between Campbell & Jacobi sketches Fig (3) Hero’s Journey by Campbell 9  Fig (4) Self as a Center of Totality by Jacobi 10   The call for adventure The need to be attached to the sacred and self-realization in the personal conscious. The threshold crossing (the battle) Passing the ego sensors to be in contact with contents of the collective unconscious. The tests and fights in the underworld and the reaching of trophy/sacred marriage. Searching for the sacred through archetypal images and reaching the state of self-balance by uniting with Anima/Animus. The return/resurrection Reaching the balanced realization of the self and healthy behavior of the psyche after embracing the archetypal images of the collective unconscious and attaching oneself to the sacred realm of life. This importance of cosmic heroes manifest itself repeatedly in urban orientations in traditional social groups. As from the chaos of open land appears a sacred center which is associated with a hero tale, act, life or death. Therefore, to be connected to the sacred, people start to inhabit the surroundings and orient themselves around this sacred center physically through the orientations of their own houses and community. This sacred center usually connected to the sacred celestial realm with a vertical axe. a variety of festivals are usually held to celebrate and relive this sacred hero’s journey. These festivals    TANGIBLE  –   INTANGIBLE HERITAGE(S)   –   DESIGN, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL CRITIQUES ON THE PAST, PRESENT AND THE FUTURE   AMPS, Architecture_MPS; University of East London London: 13-15 June, 2018  are attended by the community members or extended to other devotees from the surrounding communities according to the hero’s/ saint’s popularity.  There are a huge number of cases that could be presented to demonstrate the concept of Orientation around sacred center. In this paper, four cases are presented. Those cases are chosen based on the concept of variation to demonstrate how this concept exist in almost every cultural and traditional group from small villages/ communities to large cities, even in a metropolitan one such as Paris. Case study (1): an urban city within a rural community (Islamic Beliefs), Tanta, Egypt Case study (2) a northern district a metropolitan city (Christian Beliefs) Saint- Denis, Paris, France. Case Study (3) an ancient regional trade Centre in the Sahara (Islamic Beliefs) Timbuktu, Mali. Case Study (4) a small village in Rajasthan (Hindu Beliefs), India. Table (2) Case Study (1) City/ Village Tanta Country Egypt Saint/ Hero Sidi Ahmed Al Sayed Al Badawi Historical Background Ahmed Bin Ali Bin Yahia, one of the four pillars of Sufi philosophy, was born in Fez 596 Hijri (1199AD) and died in 675 Hijri (1276 AD). Sidi Ahmed Al Badawy was also very famous for his miracles after he resided in the small village Tanta to spread his teachings among his students. Urban Settlement and Orientations After his death, the small village has grown around his tomb. and became a commercial hub that supports and accommodate thousands in devotees who attend his moulid (Annual Birth festival) in the middle of October and visit in Different times of the year. Fig (5) Tanta’s Urban Orientation around the Sacred Mosque of Sidi  Ahmed Al Badawi
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