Cinderella, Sindbad & Sinuhe: Arabic-German Storytelling Traditions

18 April–18 August 2019

Exhibition Overview

Neues - Hieratic Limestone.jpg

Hieratic limestone ostracon from The Story of Sinuhe (handwritten by a school student), 19th Dynasty (1292-1186 BCE), provenance unknown © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung.

In an age in which social debates are increasingly characterised by exclusion, it is more important than ever to focus on the diverse, historical common ground of different cultures, and to make these accessible to an international audience.

This exhibition looks into the mutual influences and shared ideas of Arabic and German storytelling traditions. It presents the first written traditions of stories and fairy tales, the earliest known examples of which began in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. It investigates how they were adapted and interpreted through time and space, and points out the shared elements in these storytelling traditions.

For the first time in Germany, unmistakable masterpieces will be presented, such as:

  • the Ancient Egyptian Story of Sinuhe
  • The Eloquent Peasant
  • the oldest version of the Story of Ahikar, from Elephantine
  • the unknown manuscript of the oral epic Taghribat Bani Hilal, which is now recognised by UNSECO as part of the cultural heritage of humanity
  • Arabic-influenced works by the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • along with manuscripts and books by the Brothers Grimm and of One Thousand and One Nights.

To this day, these stories and histories have inspired writers, artists, film-makers and scholars, such as the Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz.

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