Weekly Lectures & Films

The NVIC organises weekly lectures (on Thursday) and films (on Sunday) on a variety of subjects. We are looking forward to welcoming you at the institute!


The NVIC organises weekly Thursday lectures on a variety of subjects. The lectures start at 6 pm sharp. The doors open at 5.30 pm. Please note that seating is limited. The lectures start as scheduled and late admissions are not allowed. After the lecture refreshments will be served in the hall of the Institute.  
Would you like to present your own academic research at NVIC? We are looking for professionals who would like to give a lecture about their research findings. Please email info@nvic.leidenuniv.nl for more information.

Keep an eye on our Facebook page or website for more information about our program.

Noor A. Noor: "Bird Hunting in Egypt"

Thursday 7 December

Full lecture title:
"Bird Hunting in Egypt: Balancing Cultural Heritage with Nature Conservation"

     Egypt lies at the heart of critical migratory routes for millions of birds that embark on a difficult journey between south and north every year. For thousands of years, Egyptians have been hunting migratory birds (specifically quail) as a seasonal autumn delicacy, using traditional hunting methods and techniques. However, in the last 15-20 years, hunting practices have intensified and become more widespread, using a wider variety of technologies that are fuelling unsustainable practices.

    Nature Conservation Egypt (NCE), Birdlife International’s partner in Egypt, has been conducting much needed research on the scale and technicalities of hunting practices along the northern Mediterranean coast, to fill the void of detailed research on the matter. Additionally, NCE conducted critical socioeconomic research to better understand the social and economic drivers behind bird hunting along the northern coast, to better guide the educational and awareness raising process.

 This event will provide cultural, socioeconomic and political context for the Mediterranean bird hunting issue, and shed light on the research that has been conducted.

Noor A. Noor is an environmentalist working in the field of biodiversity conservation and environmental education. Noor manages Nature Conservation Egypt (NCE), focusing on bridging conservation with economic development through promoting nature-friendly energy, responsible tourism and hunting management. Nature Conservation Egypt (NCE) is an Egyptian NGO established in 2005 by a number of Egypt’s leading conservationists, scientists, and nature lovers, with the aim of preserving Egypt’s natural heritage through scientific research, advocacy and policy, as well as education and awareness raising.

! attention !
The number of seats is limited. Our doors open at 5:30 and close at 6:15 or earlier in case the lecture room has reached its full capacity (out of safety considerations).

Jake Benson: "The Advent of Abrī: Paper Marbling in the Early Modern Islamic World"

Wednesday 7 February

While the advent and early history of the art of paper marbling in the Islamic world are enigmatic, this art of floating colours on liquid and capturing them with a sheet of paper has captivated people for centuries. While it is commonly called ebrû in Modern Turkish and abr ū bād in Iran today, marbled papers were historically known as kā ġaẕ -i abrī ("clouded paper" in Persian)— or more simply as abrī (clouded)—in more than seventy Persian, Ottoman, Chaghatai, and Urdu sources. While some claim this art to be very old, the earliest evidence dates to the late fifteenth-century. This suggests it emerged from a context of multifarious decorated paper production during the Timurid era, at the onset of the early modern period.

Simple drop-motifs are found on the earliest datable pair of marbled leaves, one bearing a note stati ng that they were a gift “from Iran” to Sultan Ghiyath al-Din Khalji of Mandu in AH 901/1496 CE. These leaves are contemporaneous with an attribution for the invention of abrī to a Timurid munshi, Abdullah Murvarid of Herat (d. AH 921/1515 CE). Another exa mple of bisected drop-motifs arranged rows arranged in alternating colours and rows are found on a practice sheet signed by Jamal al-Shirazi in AH 920/1514 CE. In addition to simple swirled and spotted designs, these examples prove that simple drop-motifs were produced by early marblers.

Similar styles of abrī were manufactured over a large geographic region, such as calligraphy specimens by Mir ‘Ali Haravi (d. AH 951/1544–45 CE), who frequently composed poems and riddles upon softly swirled patterns, a pr actice imitated his students and followers. Several manuscripts from the Ottoman period, such as a copy of the Sharḥ al-Wasī ṭ completed in Kütahya in the AH mid-Jumada al-Ulā 966/late-February 1559 CE, contains just one tipped-in sheet, indicates possible Anatolian manufacture. European travellers to Istanbul were captivated by marbled designs, and collected the curiously coloured sheets into alba amicorum (Latin: friendship books). Many of these early designs are similar to papers used by Shah Mahmud Nishapuri (d. 1566–67) in Mashhad, Iran and even a miscellany written between 1572–80 in Bijapur, India making it difficult to distinguish local from regional trends.

In circa 1600, marbled patterns seem to suddenly become more sophisticated, in a style called haft rang abrī (seven-colour abrī). The patterns are attributed to an enigmatic figure named Mir Muhammad Tahir, whom emigrated to the Deccan in India, where he attained mastery over the art. His patterning methods spread rapidly throughout the eastern Islamic world.

Jake Benson originally trained as a bookbinder and conservator and was formerly the Curator and Senior Conservator for the Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation & Dar al-Kutub Manuscript Project, assisting the National Library of Egypt from 2012–16. A student of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish languages, he is a graduate of the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies and Persian Flagship Program at the University of Maryland, College Park. Jake is currently completing his Ph.D. dissertation The Art of Abrī: Paper Marbling in the Early Modern Islamic World at the Leiden Institute for Area Studies in which he interprets more than 75 primary sources about the art in conjunction with surviving physical evidence to explain how marbling became technically advanced over time. His investigations shall hopefully enable manuscript scholars and professionals to better understand how technical knowledge about this art from the Islamic world influenced Europe.

Mystical Journey, Safavid Iran, ca. 1600–1650
Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Museums, 1950.135
URL: <https://www.harvardartmuseums.org/collections/object/4648?>

Films: NVICinema

On Sunday evenings the NVIC is presenting NVICinema. We bring a varied programme of Dutch or Flemish films, Egyptian classics as well as contemporary Egyptian feature films and short films from young talented directors, all with English subtitles.

Whenever possible we organise lively discussions with the films' directors after the screenings. 

All films start at 7.30pm – doors open from 7 pm.

Keep checking this website and our Facebook page for more information about the programme.  

Gaza Surf Club

Sunday 3 December

Philip Gnadt and Mickey Yamine | Germany | 2016

Trapped in “the world’s largest open-air prison” and ruled by war, a new generation is drawn to the beaches. Sick of occupation and political gridlock, they find their own personal freedom in the waves of the Mediterranean - they are the surfers of Gaza.

Duration: 87 minutes
Language : Arabic and English with English and Arabic subtitles


Sunday 10 December

Kim Beamish | Australia | 2017

OYSTER is a feature length documentary that captures the daily routines, chaos and drama of a lively, hard-working second generation oyster farming family on Merimbula Lake on the south- east coast of Australia, and their travails with officialdom, climate change, and the vagaries of small business survival.

OYSTER is both a romantic vision of tranquil beauty and a life close to nature, and also a thoroughly engaging story of human endeavor against odds that are slowly but surely escalating.

Language: English
Duration: 80 minutes

Finding Vivian Maier

Sunday 17 December

John Maloof, Charlie Siskel | USA | 2014

An intriguing documentary that shuttles from New York to France to Chicago as it traces the life story of the late Vivian Maier, a nanny whose previously unknown cache of 100,000 photographs earned her a posthumous reputation as one of the most accomplished street photographers.

Language: English
Duration: 84 minutes

Last Modified: 13-12-2017