Tombstone for Anna

By July 18, 2016 Inspiration

There are countless examples in the art and architecture of Norman Sicily that show quite what an extraordinarily cosmopolitan environment there was during the short reign of the Norman kings.
I wanted the album to be multi-lingual like the island that inspired it and although I’ve written the bulk of the songs in English, there are two songs that I sing in the dialects of southern Italy. I also sing in French on one track and in another Malik Ziad sings a poem in Arabic by the 12th century Sicilian poet Ibn Hamdis.

The mix of western, Islamic and Byzantine cultures in 12th century Sicily created a unique multilingual state. In the capital Palermo, messages on public monuments were frequently written in two or three languages. Here’s a wonderful example of this: a tombstone commissioned by a Christian priest, for his mother Anna in AD 1149.

Her eulogy is written in Judaeo-Arabic (Arabic written in Hebrew script) on top, Latin on the left, Greek on the right, and Arabic below.

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