In medieval literature, symbols play a decisive role in the allegoric representation and delimitation of social communities. In marvellous literature of folkloric ascent in particular, natural elements such as water and forests are often depicted as the symbolic equivalent of human-established borders and frontiers, which allow the social groups who elaborate tales to represent themselves within the boundaries of their community and in clear differentiation with ‘the other’. The aim of this study is to analyse how the representation of water bodies in medieval marvellous tales from across Western Europe corresponds with reality-based borders of social representation.
Of Turkic ethnicity and governing Arab subjects, Mamluks have always taken care to distinguish themselves by developing particular practices and culture. It is for this purpose that they have used emblems, a visual system close to heraldry. Well placed on the many monuments that Mamluks have built, these emblems can enlighten the way sultans and emirs delimited the urban space. As demonstration of a domination, materialization of bonds of fidelity or rivalry or reminder of someone’s achievements, they can make it possible to understand how Mamluks spatialized their places of power.
The consecrated church was a material structure in the unredeemed world, the body of Christ, the community of the faithful, and the heavenly Jerusalem. Its portals bordered sacred-profane spaces, creating multifaceted meaningful messages. Besides the apocalyptic visions of God and the representation of the Last Judgement, secular and ecclesiastical legal business occurred under the statue of king-judge Solomon. It was also a place: (1) the Water Court over irrigation water (2) seeking asylum (3) signing contracts including wedding (4) trade agreements and (5) public rites of the sinner’s repentance. My paper discusses medieval church portals as an ambiguous border space.
The concept of a symbolic border marked by so-called ‘Iron gates’ constructed by Alexander the Great was a popular eschatological theme in Medieval Latin, Slavic, Byzantine Greek, Arabic, Hebrew and Judaeo-Arabic sources. One of the most popular common localizations of this mythological barrier was associated with the fortifications of Derbent/Bab al-Abwab – the main port of the Caspian Sea. In my lecture, I am going to examine some new evidences about Derbent/Bab al-Abwab in medieval Hebrew and Judaeo-Arabic biblical commentaries which are preserved as unpublished manuscripts in Firkovich’ collection in context of Christian and Muslim Eschatology.