For Whom the Bell Tolls

Until 1842 Jerusalemites were unable to hear the sound of church bells. In fact, the Muslims had forbidden Christians to build new churches and to toll bells since the time of Saladin, in the twelfth century A.D.

In the absence of bells, churches and monasteries used another instrument to call the faithful to prayer. The nakus (Arabic) or simandron (Greek) was a wooden plank hanging from the ceiling by chains which was beaten with a small wooden or metal hammer.

Muslims allowed the use of the nakus because legend told that it was used by Noah to call the workers who built the ark. The nakus is still used today, together with church bells, of course. It can be found, for example, in Greek monasteries, both Catholic and Orthodox, where it is used to call monks to prayer and to meals.

A beautiful nakus can be heard every day in the courtyard of St. James's Church in the Armenian Quarter.



Edoardo Sanguineti

"Poetic Link"
(for italian readers only)

To see and hear the nakus, click here....