Antarah ibn Shaddad al-Absi (525–608), also known as Antar, was a pre-Islamic Arab knight and poet, famous for both his poetry and his adventurous life. Stories of his heroic exploits have been circulating for centuries and were eventually written down in the eighth century. Set in pagan Arabia known as the jahiliya, “before the time of the prophet”, the events in the stories have their roots in the history of the Arabs.
The slave-son of an Arab prince, Antar fell in love with his high-born cousin Abla. He was born into tribe of Abs, one of the many tribes roaming the Arabian desert. His mother was an Ethiopian slave and his father was a prince of the tribe. He grew outside the accepted circle of the society and Antar spent his childhood pasturing the tribe’s flock of sheep and goats. On the desert plains he learned to ride skillfully, and practiced throwing his spear until he was better accomplished, stronger and more feared than any other slave. His father also did not recognize him as a son but he excelled and distinguished himself in battle. Antar became his tribe’s hero and poet.
The stories recount his heroic struggles to raise himself above the circumstances of his birth to gain his rightful position within his tribe and to become worthy of his beautiful cousin Abla. His poems to her are highly admired and widely quoted in the Arab world. More on Antar and Abla
Born in 1978 in Damascus, Syria, Boutros al-Maari obtained a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris in 2006, and a degree in Printmaking from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Damascus University, in 1991, where he is currently Professor of Fine Arts. Al-Maari has held several solo exhibitions in Paris and Damascus, and has participated in a large number of group exhibitions in Damascus, Beirut, Alexandria, Hanover and Paris.
In his paintings, Boutros al-Maari reflects the relationship between time and place, inspired by memories of lived experiences. Utilizing simple, yet strongly expressive characters, he projects his artistic vision by connecting figures from his life in Damascus and Paris. He lives and works in Damascus. More on Boutros al-Maari
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