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"Analyzing Literary and Cultural References: Identifying the Texts in the Souvenir of Egypt" examines the texts appearing in the imagery of a decorative silk called "Souvenir of Egypt," such as mottos and fragments of verse. The "Souvenir of Egypt" is a piece of ephemera included in the online Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA). In this module, part 2 of a six part course on the "Souvenir of Egypt," we will search for the meanings of each piece of text independent of and in relation to one another. In the process, we will demonstrate some of the methods used by historian to identify and analyze visual materials and their textual components.

Introduction

The Souvenir of Egypt , a decorative silk that is part of the Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA) , makes a number of visual and cultural references. It includes seven flags, six portraits, a landscape scene, and four sections of text.In this module, we will track down the origin and significance of the texts in this souvenir. In the upper left hand corner is a phrase in foreign characters, possibly Arabic. The upper right corner includesthe phrase "God Save the King," while what appears to be poem is centered at the bottom of the silk: "Heaven's light our guide/ Rule Britannia/ Evil be to him who evil thinks/ God Save theKing." The final bit of text, which we take to be the name of the silk, appears in the lower right in large cursive letters: "Souvenir of Egypt."The texts seem to set up some sort of implicit relationship between "Britannia" and Egypt, but what are we to make of it? Why is "God Save the King" repeated? As we categorize, identify, and historically locate the bits of text included inthe Souvenir of Egypt, we will also introduce you to a variety of research techniques and resources. We hope that you will learn as much about the process of research as you will about theobject we will be examining.

Souvenir of Egypt . From the collection of Dr. Paula Sanders, Rice University. Available online through the Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA) .

The texts of the souvenir of egypt

There are four bits of text on the silk. We will begin by collecting as much information about them as we can: the language they are written in, their sources if they are quotes, and theidentification of what is referenced by them. Since there are only four examples, let's separate and number them. Select the captions beneath the images to go directlyto our discussion of each text. You can also select the link in the discussions of each text below to return to these images later.

Text 1: Arabic (?) characters
Text 2: "Heaven's light our guide/ Rule Britanina/ Evil be to him who evil thinks/ God Save the King."
Text 3: "God Save the King."
Text 4: "Souvenir of Egypt"

The texts

Text 1: arabic (?) text

Arabic (?) text
Text 1 is clearly not in English. Based on our limited knowledge as well as our assumption that the silk must have something to do with Egypt, we assume that it is in Arabic.This means that we must translate it. If you have the skills to do this yourself, then you are already ahead ofthe game. If you do not, then we must find assistance from someone who does. Most universities will have departments of language instruction, which can alsobe valuable resources for researchers. We'll try to find someone who would be willing to translate this brief text for us. Since we are at Rice University, we will search for anexpert here, but the same process should work at other institutions.

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Source:  OpenStax, Understanding material culture: deciphering the imagery of the "souvenir of egypt". OpenStax CNX. Oct 08, 2006 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10301/1.7
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