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Beirut, Lebanon
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Welcome to the Village of Kaftoun! Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 12 May 2004 02:00

Kaftoun is a small Lebanese village located along the north bank of the Nahr el Jaouz (Walnut River), in the District of Koura , North Lebanon [Kaftoun satellite map]. The houses of Kaftoun number seventy, and its inhabitants number about three hundred. They are mostly Greek Orthodox Christians, who are peaceful, respectful of others, and generally well educated. The name "Kaftoun" in the ancient Aramaic language means "dug from" or "sculpted from" a cliff. In the ancient Syriac language (Kftuna) it means "the domed". Both roots of the word lead us to believe that the village was named after the domed Theotokos Monastery which is carved in the red rock cliffs by the banks of the Jaouz River.

Kaftoun, 1996Kaftoun and its surroundings are steeped in history. This can be evidenced from the names of some of its families: Kanaan (canaan), after the Canaanites who dwelt in the region during the earlier Bronze Age (3000-1200 H.C.) and from which the Phoenicians of the Iron Age (first millennium B.C.) descended. The Semaan Family traces its roots to the Ghassanid dynasty. The Ghassanids were a group of South Arabian Christian tribes that emigrated in the early 3rd century from Yemen to the Hauran in southern Syria, Jordan and the Holy Land. It is said that the Ghassanids came from the city of Ma'rib in Yemen. There was a dam in this city, one year the dam was carried away by the ensuing flood. Thus the people there had to leave. The inhabitants emigrated and became scattered far and wide. The emigrants were from the southern Arab tribe of Al-Azd الأزد of the Kahlan branch of Qahtani tribes.

Mar Sarkis, Photo taken , winter 1996The Sarkis Family, takes its name from Saint Sergius (Mar Sarkis). Sergius an officer in the Roman army and Bacchus, an officer under him, were both friends of Emperor Maximian (284-305). They were scourged to death when they refused his orders to offer sacrifice to the pagan god Jupiter. For nearly a thousand years they were the official patrons of the Byzantine armies. Many Eastern Christians still continue to revere them as their special patron saints. Their feast day is October 7th. The old Mar Sarkis Church by the banks of the Jaouz River, which is presently being excavated, was erected in their honor (600-700 A.D.).
Last Updated on Monday, 28 December 2009 10:19
A Trail Of Promise Print E-mail
Written by Norbert Schiller   
Saturday, 13 February 2010 02:54

Image For centuries, Lebanon has lured travelers of all kinds, from literary icons to artists and photographers, and the country’s mountain ranges have proved especially appealing. The French poet Alphonse de Lamartine, who toured the region between 1832 and 1833, wrote so eloquently about it that there is at least one valley and one spectacular cedar tree in the Chouf Mountains that bear his name. Lebanon also left a deep impression on 19th-century artists David Roberts and William Henry Bartlett, as well as photographers Felix Bonfils and Frances Frith, all of whom produced volumes showcasing the land, its people and its antiquities.

Last Updated on Sunday, 17 April 2011 04:47
Church Frescoes in Lebanon Print E-mail
Written by Cedar Wings Magazine   
Friday, 25 April 2014 08:24

Arabic Book

This article in Arabic highlights the varied church frescoes in Lebanon including those of the Basilica of Saint Sergius and Bacchus (Mar-Sarkis) in Kaftoun. It was first published in MEA's Cedar Wings magazine in the issue of April-May 2014.

Last Updated on Friday, 25 April 2014 09:32
Medieval wall paintings in the Middle East Print E-mail
Written by Mat Immerzeel   
Friday, 05 February 2010 01:12

Image An impressive quantity of churches decorated with medieval wall paintings have been discovered in the mountainous regions of North Lebanon and Western Syria. Today over thirty sites with murals, unfortunately often in a poor state, are known in the area between Tripoli and Jbeil, in the Qadisha Valley and in Beirut, and about ten more are present in the Qalamun region north of Damascus, and in Homs. This is, however, only the tip of the iceberg as written sources report about the presence of many other, now vanished, embellished sanctuaries. Most of these buildings were used by indigenous Christian communities - Byzantine Orthodox (Melkite), Maronite and Syrian Orthodox - and witness of the prosperity of the local Christians and interaction with their Muslim and Latin neighbors. The Crusader element is disappointingly limited, though this is not very surprising since the surviving churches are mainly located in remote areas. The Latins had their churches in coastal cities, where urban renewal and renovations have erased almost all traces of painted decoration. Exceptions are the finds in the chapels of the defence forts Marqab Castle and Crac des Chevaliers in Syria, which, however, seem to have been embellished by local artists.

Last Updated on Sunday, 17 April 2011 04:49
Learning the Alphabet Print E-mail
Written by Bethany E. Chaney   
Thursday, 25 June 2009 02:53

Arabic BookOn the shelf in my study is a small, olive notebook dating from the 1930s, deep brown around the edges, its linen boards and Navy emblem shiny from handling and age. On the inside cover is a name, Rosalie Abraham, and her address, written over and over again in fountain ink as if to be sure there would be no mistake as to the rightful owner. In fact there was a second owner, Lillie Mae, Rosalie's younger sister and my grandmother, who told me in her later years that Aunt Rosalie always was the selfish type.

Last Updated on Sunday, 17 April 2011 04:52
The Kaftoun Theotokos Monastery - a jewel of spirituality! Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 30 March 2005 20:09

By the edge of Kaftoun you turn right towards the Walnut River (Nahr el Jaouz) valley; on your right a vast expanse of olive groves and on your left the el Majdel Mountain dressed in its majestic green cover of scrub oak. As you approach a small pine forest perched above the river valley, turn left down the steep and winding road descending towards the river. On a spring morning you can observe the dawn mist lifting itself from the river as the sun's rays stream down gloriously from behind the majestic Lebanon mountain peaks. As the cool mist rises from the river you are engulfed by the aromatic fragrances it caries with it from the flowering orange trees in the valley below. The gushing waters of the el Jaouz River break over the large boulders in the valley on their final journey to the Mediterranean. They cry, as if lamenting their inevitable fate, their cries and moans amplified by the echo of the river valley. As you are mesmerized by the sights, smells and sounds of the river you become totally unaware of your purpose, savoring every moment, oblivious of what lies ahead. But then, suddenly, there it is! The Greek Orthodox Theotokos Monastery, nestled by the river's edge, a jewel of spirituality! Adorned and perfectly set within the red limestone cliff above, protected from prying eyes and sheltered from the elements. What a sight! What a find! You rush towards it with adoration and disbelief. Your sanctity restored!

Last Updated on Saturday, 08 June 2013 03:47
Id Saideh Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 12 May 2004 02:00

It was an evening like no other. Time for the seven year old boy stood still as he played with his friends at the Malaab [the playing field]. It was the evening of August 14, and all his friends would not stop talking about tomorrow! Yes, for tomorrow was not going to be any ordinary day! Tomorrow, none of them would have to pick and string tobacco leaves as they have done every day this summer. Instead they will be going on a picnic to the Monastery by Naher Al Jaouz where they can swim in the river. This is an opportunity for them to spend the money they have earned from [ta'fear]. Ta'fear is the activity of collecting stray almonds after the farmer's first pickings. Many of them earned several Lebanese Liras, twenty-five or thirty-five piasters at a time, by selling their pickings to the shopkeeper Afif.

Last Updated on Sunday, 17 April 2011 05:27
Emile Daher the Good Samaritan Print E-mail
Written by Aline Daher   
Tuesday, 05 April 2011 19:53

Image This article is about the life of Kaftoun's distinguished son Emile Daher, born to Georges Abdallah Daher and Alida Semaan on January, 25th, 1935. Emile was an enterprising individual and a good Samaritan who died tragically in 1989 while in the prime of his life. This article highlights his life and works and is written by his daughter Aline Daher.

Last Updated on Saturday, 24 February 2018 07:22
From Death Springs Life! - The life of Helene Mansour Chahine Print E-mail
Written by J. M. Fares   
Tuesday, 21 June 2005 02:00

Helene, a daughter to Mansour Chahine Chahine and Christine Karam, was born the year 1894 in Kaftoun during the period of the harsh Ottoman rule of Abdul Hamid II (1876-1909). This was a period generally characterized by a laissez-faire policy of corruption. Lebanese Christians were mainly restricted to the mountains by the mutasarrifiyah arrangement. They were unable to make a living, and thus many of them were forced to emigrate to Egypt and the Americas in search of a better life.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 March 2009 14:57
Kaftoun's Son Makes the World a Little Bit Safer! Print E-mail
Written by J. M. Fares   
Sunday, 07 June 2009 00:00

Image He was born the year 1932 in his father's typical stone village house with mud roof in Kaftoun. His house consisted of two large rooms for sleeping and living, a cooking and baking area, an outhouse, and most essentially a well to collect rain water for the family summer drinking and washing needs. His father Jurjus was a farmer and landowner of independent means. Jurjus and his brother Elias had orchards of Olives, and Tobaco Fields, and they used to harvest hard Grains which they processed on their own Baydar located then between Mekhael Fares' House and the Old Kaftoun School by the present Kaftoun main thruway.

Last Updated on Monday, 13 July 2015 07:08
My first visit to Kaftoun! Print E-mail
Written by Teresa Fares   
Wednesday, 12 May 2004 02:00
Speeding along the coastal highway in my cousin's Volvo with all of the windows wide open, I was immediately enthralled with North Lebanon. We had left behind the Beirut traffic and the worst of the heat. Commanding views of the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea filled my senses. Between the sea view and the steep mountains climbing to the interior of Lebanon, my head was spinning with the commanding natural beauty of this small country. When we finally turned off to head up the steep, winding road toward the village I was ready for a slower ride. We climbed toward what I have since learned is the mountain pass known as "The Doors of the Wind". No matter how many times I pass through this spot, with a spectacular view of the Med heading toward Tripoli and of the highway we had just turned off of, I still cannot quite figure out the geography.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 March 2009 14:56
Lebanon's medieval frescoes at risk Print E-mail
Written by Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, Daily Star   
Monday, 09 March 2009 05:43

Preservationists organize excursion to raise awareness (and funds) for endangered treasures -
May 30, 2006 Kaelen Wilson-Goldie-Daily Star

"A lot of these frescoes are discovered by accident," says historian Ray Mouawad, gingerly turning the pages of a doorstop-sized photography book documenting medieval churches in Lebanon. Mouawad is particularly interested in the wall paintings that adorn these structures, or rather, what is left of them.

Last Updated on Sunday, 17 April 2011 05:18
The Jouz River in Lebanon Print E-mail
Written by Cider Wings Magazine   
Friday, 25 April 2014 09:20

Arabic Book

This article highlights the varied features of the Jouz River, which passes in Kaftoun, and the villages of interest near on it's banks. It was first published in MEA's Cedar Wings magazine in the issue of April-May 2014.

Last Updated on Friday, 25 April 2014 09:30
The Arab Bridge Print E-mail
Written by Ron Bergquist   
Wednesday, 30 June 2004 02:00

T Transmission of thought plays no less significant a role in the development of culture than origination of thought. If the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the first surah of the Koran; if Homer, Dante and Shakespeare were not transmitted, what would they have availed anyone beyond a limited place and time? [Hitti, 1971, p. 92]

Last Updated on Friday, 13 August 2010 09:21
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