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Deep Links Between Kerala’s Mappila Culture, Arabia Underexplored: Rolf Killius

In Kochi
January 10, 2019

Vibrant reciprocity exists between the musical expressions of Kerala’s Mappila culture and those of the Arabian Peninsula, but such give-and-take exercises remain largely underappreciated, according well-known ethnomusicologist Rolf Killius.

The Mappila culture of the peninsular state has left a lot of imprints on the art and music of the Persian Gulf region, yet much of it remains unnoticed in sociocultural and academic circuits, the London-based scholar noted at a talk under the aegis of Sahapedia, an open online multimedia knowledge resource on cultures.

The maritime trade and associated cultural exchanges between regions merit further study in order to unearth the influence of African as well as Indian music on the traditional performances and music of Gulf countries such Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Iraq and the UAE, he noted in the lecture delivered at Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady.

In the talk titled ‘Where The Sea Kisses the Desert ’, German-born Rolf further pointed out that the design of musical instruments and the rhythmic patterns of the choral music exhibit the cross-cultural connections that the east coast of Africa and west coast of India have with the Gulf region.

The event was organised on Friday in association with the Centre for Intangible Heritage and the Department of Music of the 1993-founded University in Kalady, 45 km northeast of Kochi.

Septuagenarian Rolf, who has curated several exhibitions on Indian and Arab-Persian music across premier museums of the world, is also a sound recordist, film producer and radio journalist with particular focus on the cultures of South Asia and Arabic States of the Gulf.