Graduate Theological Union

Antar & Abla: An Ancient Bedouin Love Poem in a Time of War

Dates: 
Friday, July 19, 2013 - 8:00am to Monday, September 30, 2013 - 5:00pm

On display in the library are paintings depicting the story of Antar & Abla based on a pre-6th Century Epic Bedouin Poem.

The story extolls the virtues of valor and humanity to both friends and foes, as embodied by the heroic black slave/poet/warrior Antar in his pursuit to win the hand of his seemingly unattainable heart’s desire, the fair, wise and virtuous Princess Abla. This takes place amidst the vast and harshly beautiful desert oceans of the Middle East at time in which eloquence and integrity are prized above all possession, and the power of poetry, the spoken word reigned supreme.

The paintings are rendered from the imagination of Abu-Subhi Al Tenawi (1888-1973), a 20th Century Syrian master painter, well known for his traditional glass painting of epic Arabic Tales. He was trained by his father, who was himself a master glass painter of the late Ottoman period. Subhi’s children continue this tradition to this day. This series, painted with oil on canvas, was created at the end of his artistic career between 1960 and 1973.

These works are from the collection of Arthur R. Albrecht, a San Francisco Attorney, and a former board member of the GTU. The Jane Dillenberger Exhibition Fund makes this exhibition possible.