Tag Archives: Sehwan Sharif

Book review: Five days and nights in Sehwan by Jürgen Wasim Frembgen

Jürgen Wasim Frembgen, Am Schrein des roten Sufi. Fünf Tage und Nächte auf Pilgerfahrt in Pakistan, Arles, Frauenfeld, Waldgut Verlag, 2008, 165 p.

The book by J. W. Frembgen, ethnologist Curator of the East State Museum of Ethnology in Munich, is a travel journal about five days and nights spent in Sehwan pilgrimage in 2002. Served by an excellent knowledge of Islam in Pakistan – since 1981 – and by the acuity of his observations, Frembgen’s book is a pleasant and colourful story, well done and well written. The bravura that retains the reader’s attention are the humorous stories of travelling by train from Lahore, and numerous portraits of the protagonists he met: pîrs, malangs, dancers, beggars, professional photographers, pilgrims from all persuasion, Shiite, Sunni, Hindu. The attention to material culture in general and to the “daily life” outside the usual daily life that is the pilgrimage is remarkable in its detail: the exhaustion of the pilgrim, how to drink a cup of tea, sleep under tent of pilgrims or how to urinate against a wall, close combat during the visit of the tomb or in shopping streets, spitting red betel brown or chewing tobacco, the movement of hashish or opium, showers at hairdressers. A real pedagogical concern led Frembgen to insert here and there some hagiographic stories or an explanation for the lay reader – for whom the book is basically designed. Therefore he explains how hagiographic stories circulate, the presence of many Hindus in the melâ, the liturgical rhythms of melâs, dances and trances practiced.

Some claims unfairly generalize the Indo-Pakistani Islam case to Islam in general, for example by taking shots at Kipling’s or Guenon’s styles on the materialistic West facing Mystical East (= India? The Islam?) – an opposition that the strong tensions within Pakistani Islam which is highlighted at the very end of the book itself. Frembgen seems more relevant when he said that the devotees of Sehwan are neither Islamic nor secular Muslims, and probably nothing that clearly corresponds to the inadequate categories of sociologists of religion. The book has also, inevitably, the look of a very “West Germany” German, very attentive to the ecology and highlights what is most interesting for him. He focuses on the “body” in the pilgrimage sometimes at the expense of proper spiritual aspects on which the book is ultimately more allusive. But incorporated religion is indeed the major characteristic of all pilgrimages.

One will enjoy reading a lively and successful book designed in the tradition of a certain German ethnographic culture that is carefully and thoroughly descriptive, and a long growing culture of the Wanderer that is renewed by globalization and which has been recently illustrated by the travel writings of an another well-known author, Wolfgang Büscher. Immersed into another world, Schrein Am roten Sufi can benefit a wide audience, not only to those who love Sehwan.

Catherine Mayeur-Jaouen (INALCO, Paris)

Other publications

Journey to God. Sufis and Dervishes in Islam, OUP, Karachi, 2009.

The Friends of God – Sufi Saints in Islam. Popular Poster Art from Pakistan, OUP, Karachi, 2006.

“Divine Madness and Cultural Otherness: Diwânas and Faqîrs in Northern Pakistan”, South Asia Research, 26: 235-248, 2006.

“From Dervish to Saint: Constructing Charisma in Contemporary Pakistani Sufism”, The Muslim World, 94/2: 245-257, 2004.

“Religious Folk Arts as an Expression of Identity: Muslim Tombstones in the Gangar Mountains of Pakistan”, in Muqarnas XV: An Annual on the Visual Culture of the Islamic World, Gülru Necipoglu (ed.), Leiden: E.J. Brill, 200-210, 1998.

PhD thesis: Material Culture from Southern Pakistan

Annabelle Collinet, Through Ceramics: Sindh and Islam. Material Culture from Southern Pakistan, 2nd-12th centuries AH/ 8th-18th centuries AD. PhD thesis in Archaeology, University of Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne, 22 MArch 2010.

“This dissertation introduces an unpublished material on ceramics, coming from the archaeological researches of the MAFS (The French Archaeological Mission in Sindh) directed by Monique Kervran from 1989 to 2002. The ceramics studied were found during the excavations of the Sehwan Sharif fortress in Central Sindh, the excavations of the port establishments of Lahori Bandar and Ratto Kot, and during the surveys of 23 sites in the Indus delta. This material led to drawing a first chronological sequence of ceramics from Sindh, from the early Islamic period (8th century) to the Moghol era. Besides this chronological view the study of this ceramic material also deals with the technologies of the ceramic wares, and the questions of their production, distribution and commercial exchanges. Ceramics from Sindh of the Islamic period are characterized by the combinations of common red wares with painted red wares, stamped and moulded red wares ; by grey and black wares and by glazed wares. These types are inherited from very ancient regional traditions, belong to the Indian cultural area and lastly, belong to the specific ceramic culture of Islam with the use of glazed wares.”

Keywords: Sindh, ceramic, ceramology, archaeology, excavations, surveys, Sehwan Sharif, Lahori Bandar, India, Islamic period.

Interview with Kishwar Rizvi, 2010

Kishwar Rizvi is Assistant Professor of Islamic Art History and Islamic Architecture at Yale University. She has recently completed a book: The Safavid Dynastic Shrine: History, religion and architecture in early modern Iran (London: British Institute for Persian Studies, I. B. Tauris, 2010). Dr Rizvi co-edited with Sandy Isenstadt another book, Modernism and the Middle East: Architecture and politics in the twentieth century (University of Washington Press, 2008). During her visit to Paris in December 2009, Annabelle Collinet (Louvre Museum), interviewed her about her work and projects. Continue reading Interview with Kishwar Rizvi, 2010

MA dissertation: De-centering Devotion in Sehwan Sharif

Omar F. Kasmani, De-centering Devotion: The Complex Subject of Sehwan Sharif, MA thesis in Anthropology, Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations, 27 September 2009.

“Anthropological studies on ritual in South Asia have tended to emphasize an all-pervasiveness of the sacred so much so, it is alleged, that the non-sacred is rendered nonexistent. As a consequence, the “devotee” is imagined as a homogenous subject constituted under a unitary desire for submissive devotion. Complicating essentialist portrayals of the South Asian subject, the aim of this research is to situate multiple desires including devotion amongst shrine-goers at Sehwan Sharif, Pakistan.

The central framework of this study is informed by Ewing’s idea of “multiple subjective modalities”. Data from the field has been co-constructed in the researcher’s interaction with subjects in and around the shrine. By speaking of personal narratives, conflicts and motivations, the four primary and several secondary informants have illustrated a shared nexus of desires and subject positions; finding themselves at the forefront of various ideological battles, shrine-goers dexterously hold, respond to, associate with, and shift between, a number of subject positions.

The evidence for polyvocal subjects at the shrine of La`l Shahbâz Qalandar as documented in this research makes a case for a more complex exploration of ritual practitioners’ desires. In other words, by situating, at the level of the individual, an intersection of conflicting desires, it is argued, that shrine-goers operate, and in fact oscillate between, “multiple subjective modalities”.”

Keywords: subject/subjectivity, devotion, desire, Sehwan, shrine, shrine-goers

Workshop on Sehwan, 27 January 2009, CEIAS-EHESS

Plurality of sources and interdisciplinary approach:

A case study of Sehwan Sharif in Sindh

Maison de l’Asie, Grand Salon (1st floor), 22 avenue du Président Wilson, 75016 Paris

 

As part of activity of the research team “History and Sufism in the Indus Valley” (CEIAS), led by Michel Boivin, a workshop will be held on 27 January 2009 at the EHESS in Paris. Several members of this team will focus on how to integrate the plurality of sources in comparison with the interdisciplinary approach of a Sufi pilgrimage, that of Sehwan Sharif located in the region of Sindh in Southern Pakistan. Beginning on the work of the French Archaeological Mission in Sindh (1989-2002), different sets of research materials will be presented by the speakers: epigraphical sources, colonial archives, cartographic representations, vernacular sources, etc. If the primary objective of this workshop is to make an inventory of sources and materials collected, and eventually to compose a typology by disciplines, it also aims at multiplying angles of approach to a specific site, between local history and regional history. At the end of the day, a brief account of the field mission in October 2008 will be presented and commented, as well as various parallel projects around issues of data management and sharing (archiving and cataloging, GIS, website).

Programme

9h30: Opening remarks by Michel Boivin, CNRS

Morning session

Chair: Véronique Bouiller (CNRS)

10h-10h30: Monique Kervran (CNRS), The archaeology of Sindh and Sehwan Sharif: the work of the French Archaeological Mission in Sindh

10h30-11h: Annabelle Collinet (Louvre Museum), Sehwan Sharif through the study of ceramics: 2nd-8th until 11th-17th centuries

Coffee break

11h15-11h45: Claude Markovits (CNRS), Sindh through colonial archives

11h45-12h15: Reza Dehghan (University of Aix-Marseille), Sindh and commercial trade between India and Baghdad

Afternoon session

Archives at the Mukhtyarkar office in Sehwan

Chair: Christophe Z. Guilmoto (IRD)

14h-14h30: Johanna Blayac (EPHE), Epigraphy and architecture in Sehwan and southern Sindh

14h30-15h00: Rémy Delage (CNRS), Sehwan Sharif and Sindh represented cartographically

Tea break

15h-15h50: Michel Boivin (CNRS), La’l Shahbâz Qalandar through vernacular sources; Annabelle Collinet (Louvre Museum): Commentary on the Qalandar’s begging bowl (kishtî)

15h50-16h20: Frédérique Pagani (Paris X-Nanterre), Studying the Sindhis in India

16h20-17h: Michel Boivin (CNRS) and Rémy Delage (CNRS), Brief account of the field mission in 2008, Parallel projects and Mission in Sehwan Sharif 2009

 

Interview with Monik Kervran, 2008

Monik Kervran, a researcher at CNRS, headed the French Archaeological Mission in Sindh (MAFS) between 1989 and 2002. We interviewed her in October 2008 to reconstruct the scientific itinerary that led her from the Persian Gulf to the Indus Valley and the region of Sindh, specifically the site of Sehwan Sharif.

On the excavation site, Sehwan Sharif

Can you describe us the steps that led you to open new sites of excavation in the Indus Valley? Continue reading Interview with Monik Kervran, 2008